Tourism receives boost

The Southern Downs Steam Railway Association Volunteers (Supplied).

By Lucy Waldron

Five tourist attractions on the Southern Downs have been granted funding through the Building Bush Tourism (BBT) initiative to enhance their facilities and continue leading in the tourism sector.

The $10 million BBT Fund provides financial support to eligible Queensland tourism operators, not-for-profit organizations, and local governments.

Sancerre Estate were very excited to hear that they had been approved with Owner Stacey Allan saying they are grateful for the opportunity.

“We are putting the money towards our grape-to-glass centre, so the new cellar door and learning experiences that we will be offering for our wine table, view wine,” Ms Allan said.

After making wine for the past eight years Sancerre Estate decided it was time to open the door to their journey.

“A lot of our guests that stay with us are really interested in our story and the journey of growing grapes into making wine,” Ms Allan said.

“So we thought that there was an opportunity there to explore that further and offer it to the public as well.”

With all things considered this new venture for Sancerre Estate plans to be opened by the October long weekend.

The Warwick Railway Station also received funding. Southern Downs Steam Railway Association Inc Chairman Kelvin Hutchinson believes the funded upgrades will revitalize the eastern sector of Warwick Township.

“Warwick has always been a railway town, and we are bringing that back to life,” Mr Hutchinson said.

The plan for the Railway Station includes improving its heritage buildings and increasing foot traffic with the addition of a café, a steam rail tour base, ballroom renovations, and an events space in the courtyard. The association is also working with the council to potentially move the Visitor Information Center to the Railway.

“We are looking to periodically open components of the station, the rooms with commercial elements with a hope to have it all completed in under a year,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“However we are only volunteers who can only do so much, we are always looking for people to get involved and participate.”

Get in touch with the Southern Downs Steam Railway Association Inc to become a part of the team bringing the benefits of the railway back to the town.

Other recipients of the funding include Bents Road Winery, which plans to create a School of Wine and Spirits immersive and educational hub. Ballandean Estate Wines will use their funds to enhance their facilities, and Diamondvale Estate plans to extend and add accessible pathways to make their winery a more welcoming space.

This fund aims to deliver new or improved tourism-related infrastructure, enhance amenities, and increase the accessibility of social, community, and tourism infrastructure. The initiative is expected to attract and grow regional participation and visitors to the area.