The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT [9.15 p.m.]: I am delighted that the Treasurer is in the Chamber this evening on the adjournment debate as well as the Special Minister of State, who represents the Minister for Tourism.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: I heard a whisper that you were going to speak.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: I wish to speak about what is known as the corner country, that area in the north-west of New South Wales that is north of Fowler’s Gap and west of Wanaaring, and the fabulous Hungerford, which was made famous by Henry Lawson, but particularly the thriving village of Tibooburra and the township of Milparinka. Of course, Milparinka is an historic administrative centre that was set up in the hope that the small gold deposits that were found around Milparinka would continue, like some of the other major deposits in Australia, but it moved on into the granite. Milparinka was left to have its name imprinted on such significant administrative units as the Rural Lands Protection Board, and I am sure it was the centre of a very important police district.
Built at Milparinka were a very famous courthouse, a police residence and a police station. Back in the eighties, people on one of those bashes, as they used to be called—when a group of people would travel out by road to look at the outback—came across the courthouse at Milparinka and were rather shocked by its dilapidated state, considering the historic significance and architectural beauty of the building. A grant was obtained to renovate the courthouse but I regret to say that not enough money was allocated for the necessary repairs to the sergeant’s residence and the police station and stables alongside. They continued to deteriorate. For a while they were the residence of a local identity, who sadly has since died, but he—Harry Blau—was a citizen who had great hopes for Milparinka and worked very hard to get a permanent water supply, which the village at present lacks.
Milparinka has many other attributes. It has a thriving hotel and a couple of other small residences for people working in the district in the kangaroo industry, and so on. Local residents have rallied to the cause. They want to turn the courthouse into a living museum for pioneers—not only as a mining exhibit but also to exhibit the relics of the establishment of the pastoral industry and, to a degree, to give a montage of what is happening in the district at the present time. I think it would be a wonderful thing, otherwise the restoration that took place to the Milparinka courthouse will be utterly wasted. It is a place one can visit, but it is mostly locked up. It is occasionally used by the Country Women's Association for their meetings but they found it a little inconvenient and draughty. Sadly, because of the lack of work on the surrounds of the building, the strong westerly winds were eroding even the foundations of this wonderful stone building. It is important that we focus some attention on the building and support local residents, who are headed by Ruth Sandow, who formed a committee to do something about the Milparinka courthouse.
The courthouse stands as a memorial to the foresight and courage of the people who went out there. This is the country that the Burke and Wills expedition went through, not long before the mining people straggled up from the Broken Hill area looking for the elusive gold. Not far between Milparinka and Tibooburra is Poole’s grave and the depot of stores that was set up there for the Burke and Wills expedition. So, it is a very important and historic place. The people of Tibooburra are very conscious of that. It is said that Milparinka, which is about 60 kilometres to the south—I am always bad at converting miles to kilometres but it is something of that order—is divorced from the facilities in Tibooburra, but we should all join together to ensure that this project comes to a successful conclusion.