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50 Local jobs will be created as a result of construction works associated with the Australian Workers Heritage Centre's - NEW ENTRANCE BUILDING.

We are pleased to announce some positive news which will benefit the community and region in the midst of the challenging and uncertain times facing us all.

After many frustrating delays with our New Entrance Building Project, works will finally begin in the coming weeks. Following an independent and stringent tendering process undertaken by our Project Design Team - designtek, we are pleased to advise the tender will be awarded to a Barcaldine building company who will utlilise a local workforce within the outback region to undertake the project construction works.

Locals and travellers who have visited the Australian Workers Heritage Centre have entered our grounds and exhibitions via our entrance on Ash Street, and that's all about to change. Planning is well underway for a brand new entrance building on the MAIN (Oak) Street of Barcaldine, which is also the Capricorn Highway.

The Centre's site is already large - two hectares, but improved access via Oak Street is now possible following the purchase of an adjoining block of land from Barcaldine Regional Council some two years ago.

Our plan will involve local contractors, and the 'new' business on the main street will make a big contribution to the visitor experience in Barcaldine. After the long drought in our region and now the COVID-19 pandemic impacting everyone, the positive flow-on benefits to the local economy and community will be very welcome.

Members Brief

News / Events


News / Events


Visit the New

"Working for Health” Exhibition


Celebrating the Contribution and Heritage of our Health Workers


The "Working for Health" Exhibition honours and celebrates the outstanding contributions made by the wide ranging talented and committed health workers, who in the past, the present and the future, will continue to deliver a world class health system for the benefit of all Australians in this vital area of service to our community.


The aim of the exhibition is for visitors to go away with a coherent and gripping story of the evolution of our healthcare system, the contribution of particular outstanding individuals and key events within the development of our health system, and to the health of the Australian community.


View the "Medicine from the Bush Film" featuring members of the Central Western Queensland Aboriginal Corporation.  The film explores the historical significance of the indigenous medicine man, bush medicine in general and the future role of bush medicines in the wider community.    Ancient wisdoms have turned full circle and will now and in the future provide valuable medical relief for the benefit of the broader community.

A separate education room for students is included within the display / exhibition, ensuring an enjoyable learning experience for the whole family.

Against a backdrop of the evolution of the Australian health system since Federation, including the experience of health workers and the state of health in the community, the exhibition will tell a number of key stories about milestone events and significant individuals in the history of Australian health.

The general overview will evoke the experience of health workers and tell the story, celebrate and honour the contributions of health workers and others to the health of the community.  It will encompass the experience of workers in hospitals and in the community, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, paramedical and allied health workers.

Against this backdrop, the exhibition will tell some of the most heroic stories in the history of the Australian healthcare system.

The exhibition upgrade is part of a redevelopment of Australian Workers Heritage Centre's exhibitions to focus more directly on the experience of Australian Workers. 

Projects in this redevelopment have already been completed in the Kunwarara Railway Station (on railway workers) and the Shearers’ Hall (on the 1891 Shearers’ Strike and its consequences).

CEO of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre Bob Gleeson said, “The Project has come at a crucial time for our region.  The continuing severe crippling drought affecting our communities over the last 3 years has impacted on our organisation along with the total outback region due to decline in the local population, tourism numbers and the serious problems being experienced by graziers, business owners and residents alike. And it will take an extended period of time to overcome the serious effects of the current drought.

Our intention is to stage the upgrade works to ensure the maximum benefit stays in the community, providing a much needed boost in local employment and an ongoing economic stimulus for the outback.”

AWHC CEO Bob Gleeson said "the health and ambulance display would be a comprehensive display with a strong education component.

The centre has seen increased visitation from tourists and school groups who take advantage of ’Wanpa-rda Matilda’ our on-site Outback Education Centre." 

The Workers Heritage Centre site – a museum styled attraction celebrating our nation’s working history provides unique educational opportunities right on ‘Wanpa-rda’s’ doorstep.

Mr. Gleeson said , “we have been promoting educational tourism since our opening in 1991 and played a lead role in making the Outback Education Tour Subsidy Scheme a reality when it was introduced in 2011."

With the introduction of the Government’s Outback Education Tour Subsidy Scheme and the aim of encouraging teachers to take their students to outback Queensland and integrate its rich history and heritage into school learning; the scheme has provided the opportunity for students to learn from and give back to outback communities by supporting the local tourism industry.

The redevelopment will give tourists and students another reason to come back to Barcaldine and experience Queensland’s vibrant outback. 

Please click to view Initial Concept Design - 'Working for Health'



The Shearers Hall was opened in late 2013

The AWU National Executive at the historic union office at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre.

Barcaldine - a central Queensland town with impeccable working class credentials, this location was the ideal place to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the AWU in 1886.

Please click here to view photo's of our new display

Statement of Support - Paul Howes - Bill Ludwig (click here)

ETU - Visit 2012

In 2012 the Electical Trades Union Qld-NT Branch Executive travelled to Barcaldine, visited the Australian Workers Heritage Centre to hold their April 2012 Executive Meeting

ETU visit

A message from Peter Simpson - State Secretary ETU - Qld & NT

The 'Young-Un' - the only direct descendant of the Tree of Knowledge planted on-site at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre in 2005

Signage erected in November 2010 with the generous support of the Electrical Trades Union

The Young-Un 2014

{2014 - look how it has grown}

Click to read more about the 'Young-Un'


July 2009 - Goat Museum


Worlds's first Goat Museum planned for Queensland

The Australian Worker’s Heritage Centre at Barcaldine today announced a campaign to attract sponsorship to establish the world’s first Goat Museum.

The museum will celebrate the role of goats in the settlement of Australia’s outback.  Themes of its exhibitions will include the role of goats in supporting rural families with milk, meat, skins and transport, as companions for children, in commerce, and in recreation through goat races.

As goat historian Faye Schutt points out, “Goats supplied milk, meat and skins in places where it was impossible to keep sheep.  They also provided small scale transport.  Usually driven by children, goat carts would take milk to the farm gate, and collect firewood and water.  Teams of up to 20 goats would haul large loads – in one case, they were even used to haul a car out of a creek.  There’s no doubt that many working families owed their survival in tough times to goats.”

“Goats were also used in racing and attracted keen betting interest in many Queensland centres, including Brisbane.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre Bob Gleeson said that the museum will tell an essential story about life in the bush for generations of people.  “Just about anyone who lived in the bush up to about the 1950s has a story about goats, and can tell you how important they were for many people”, he says.

He would like to make special mention of the work of Dr John de Groot of Brisbane, a past resident of Barcaldine.  Dr de Groot, a Patron Member of The Australian Worker’s Heritage Centre, has generously agreed to be a Foundation Sponsor for the proposed goat museum.

Mr Gleeson announced the project team established to develop Australia’s first Goat Museum will be:

  • The Australian Workers Heritage Centre – co-ordination, direction and negotiation

  • Crozier Schutt Associates – historical research and concept development

  • Brandi Projects – exhibition design, construction and installation

  • Brothers Darcy & David Kerrigan – honorary Project Officers

Mr Gleeson said the project team, in close collaboration with sponsors, will bring the vision of the world’s first Goat Museum to reality.  Ensuring this project combined with a number of other planned initiatives in progress at The Australian Worker’s Heritage Centre will significantly add to the critical mass of outstanding attractions in Outback Queensland. 

Lining up for the start of the Barcoo Cup, Barcaldine (date unknown) (Courtesy Rockhampton and District Historical Society)

Further information

Mr Bob Gleeson, CEO, The Australian Worker’s Heritage Centre

M: 0419 181 940 (project information)


Ms Faye Schutt, historian (Crozier Schutt Associates)

P: 07 3355 9023 (history of goats in Queensland)


Queensland Needs a Goat Museum


February 2008 - The Matilda Series

The exhibition of fifteen oil paintings has been acquired by the Australian Workers Heritage Centre at Barcaldine Queensland.

The story behind the birth of Waltzing Matilda (based on the writings of the late Richard Macgoffin)

Over the Christmas period of 1894 in north west Queensland, Banjo Paterson wrote the ballad 'Waltzing Matilda' to the music of an old Scottish tune 'Craigielee'. Banjo was staying at 'Dagworth Station' where in the previous September a series of events took place that helped shape Australia's most famous ballad.

The paintings will be the centrepiece of an exhibition that will be opening at the Workers Heritage Centre in 2009 - the year that Queensland celebrates it's 150th Birthday.

The Matilda Series


In September 2005, 14 Sudanese and Liberian refugee teenagers were given a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Queensland's Outback.  CEO Bob Gleeson's original concept came to fruition after a generous donation from Dr. John Skala of the Brisbane Travellers Medical Service.  The African teenagers stayed at Wanpa-rda Matilda Outback Education Centre and they enjoyed a full itinerary which included sheep shearing, a campfire on Longreach's Thomson River and trips to other attractions such as the Blackall Woolscour, and Longreach Hall of Fame.


The 'Young-Un'

During the Labor Day weekend in May 2005, the 'Tree of Knowledge' offspring was planted at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre site.  Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, Hon Henry Palaszczuk officially planted the offspring.  Hon Chris Cummings - Minister for Emergency Services officially opened the revamped Emergency Services Display.  Milton Dick, State Secretary of the ALP officially launched a new display - Labor House.

Young Planting


Opening of Stage One - Women in Australia’s Working History project

The Australian Workers Heritage Centre celebrated the opening of Stage One of its national project - Women in Australia’s Working History - on 20th July 2002. Locals and visitors celebrated throughout the day, with festivities continuing into the evening, culminating in the official opening by Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie.




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