AWU Shearers’ Hall – Australian Workers Heritage Centre Barcaldine
Client: Autralian Worker’s Heritage Centre
The AWU Shearers’ Hall exhibition tells the story of a building and its period in history which earmarks the beginning of the Union movement in Australia. It also explains the series of events surrounding Australia’s Shearer’s Strike.
Completed in 2013, the restoration and exhibit is part of a group of heritage exhibits Brandi Projects have completed for the Australian Workers Heritage Centre (AWHC). The AWHC is an exhibition space showcasing the historical workplaces of yesteryear. Where historical buildings are given a place as part of immersive historical storytelling.
About the Shearer’s Hall building
The Shearer’s Hall is recognised as Australia’s oldest office and meeting hall. It was built in Blackall sometime after the formation of the Queensland Shearers’ Union in 1887. It was built to be the office and meeting hall of the Amalgamated Workers’ Union. During the 1891 Shearers’ Strike, the building was, of course, a hub of activity as one of the headquarters of AWU. This means there is a rich history connected to it.
The building was cut in half and moved from Longreach on the back of a horse and dray after the strike, where it remained as the offices of the AWU.
About the Exhibit
Starting with a bare shell, we designed and produced an exhibition which would complement the fabric of this historical building. Working closely with local builders we were able to repurpose this building into a state of the art exhibition.
The exhibition interprets both the building and core themes relevant to the place of Barcaldine and the Australian Worker’s Union. As well as the significance of this building being the birthplace of the Australian Labor Movement.
- Museum Historical and Heritage Consultants – Crozier Schutt Associates
- Exhibit Designers – Brandi Projects
- Production – Brandi Projects
- Exhibit Installation – Brandi Projects
- Project Management – Brandi Projects
Features of the exhibit at a glance
- A shearing diorama with audio
- 2 PAC display plinths with interpretive graphic panels and artefacts in showcases
- Reproduction of Shearer’s Strike painting series
- Suspended banners with large iconic imagery
- Multimedia screen with Jack Thompson poetry reading
- Mock of St Helena prison cell
The technical interactives were subcontracted through EConnect
Comments about this Project
“It [the union hall] has got a huge amount of history to it and it tells a very good story,” Bob Gleeson ABC
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss, said in a joint statement that the Shearers’ Hall and the Kunwarara Railway Station were important displays about the nation’s past.
“The Australian Workers Heritage Centre each year contributes to regional and national tourism, boosts local employment and helps to sustain rural life,” Mr Truss said.
“It is one of the major drawcards on the Matilda Tourist route, with about 25,000 visitors a year, and it is a strong link in the chain of some 33 Queensland Heritage Trail Network attractions.”
The Shearers’ Hall is Australia’s oldest union hall and played a role in the great Shearers’ Strike of 1891…,”he said.