VOICES SHARED: A crowd gathers at Mount Chalmers State School for a public meeting with councillors on the possible sale of the school.
VOICES SHARED: A crowd gathers at Mount Chalmers State School for a public meeting with councillors on the possible sale of the school. Allan Reinikka ROK030319achalmer

Historic building's future in limbo amid community concerns

A SMALL crowd of spirited locals gathered at the site of the Mount Chalmers State School yesterday morning to discuss the future of the historic buildings.

Livingstone Shire Councillors Tom Wyatt, Adam Belot, Pat Eastwood and Glenda Mather were in attendance at the public meeting along with about 12 other locals.

The meeting discussed the community's stance on the issue and the councillors shared what would happen from their point of view.

Cr Mather explained the school buildings have not been sold but the council is simply looking at options and is in the expressions of interest stage.

Because of the run-down condition and serious concerns about asbestos and lead paint traces, the council has estimated it could cost $250,000 to $500,000 to repair the premises in the first year and then an ongoing cost of $80,000 each year for maintenance.

Maggie and Cassie Inglis with Cr Adam Belot at the public meeting Sunday March 3 at the Mount Chalmers School.
Maggie and Cassie Inglis with Cr Adam Belot. The Inglises said the school provides a corridor for the animals. Allan Reinikka ROK030319achalmer

The purchase price for the property had been estimated to be $325,000, however money would need to be spent to bring it back to a reasonable standard.

The council is considering whether to demolish some of the buildings as this would cost only $200,000.

Local residents would like to see the buildings used for the community, suggesting the oval be delegated for helicopter access or the land become a camping area for grey nomads.

Among the crowd were mother and daughter Maggie and Cassie Inglis who are concerned about the environmental aspect.

The family is renting in town and like the area because of the "nature refuge” it provides.

May pole dancing in Mount Chalmers, unknown date.
Maypole dancing in Mount Chalmers, unknown date. Historical Society

"Lots of birds come here and it's nice to get away from the areas on the coast that don't have it,” Maggie said.

The school acts like a "stepping stone” for the many animals and wildlife of the region.

They have both documented all kinds of animals living in the bush from wallabies, scrub turkeys and sugargliders, along with the "rich birdlife”.

"It allows animals to come across and have some small kind of habitat,” Cassie said.

Another significant factor is the school has been part of the town for so long and holds historical value.

"It's a source of cultural recognition for the town and important,” Cassie said.

Jimmy Crawford at a public meeting Sunday March 3 at the Mount Chalmers School.
Emu Park resident Jimmy Crawford said the school should belong to the community. Allan Reinikka ROK030319achalmer

Jimmy Crawford drove down to the old gold mining town from Emu Park to support the public meeting and community in the fight.

He said Mount Chalmers is a beautiful area and he often liked going for a drive to look at the countryside.

Mr Crawford believes assets like the school shouldn't be sold.

"They should stay with the community and they can utilise them,” he said.

The opportunities are endless for what could be done at the school, he said.

"You could do anything here, the buildings are absolutely beautiful,” he said.

Mount Chalmers State School class photo in 1937.
Mount Chalmers State School class photo in 1937. Historical Society

"It has to stay. The community has to get behind it and come up with ideas, it's just historical.

"There is too many things that shouldn't be sold and I don't want to see it get sold.”

It also could be resurrected on a small budget, Mr Crawford said.

"I don't think it would cost a lot of money to keep it historical,

"I just think they can utilise it somehow.”