Former farmer Tom Fearby says the historic Gunnedah Showground sheep yards are in good condition and should be saved.
Mr Fearby said the core structure of the sheep yards, made from Ironbbark and Cyprus Pine, was in remarkably good condition, especially given its age which is thought to date back to early last century.
His comments follow a front page article in the Gunnedah Times which detailed how Gunnedah Shire Council was presented two options for the facility – repair or replace.
A structural engineer engaged by Gunnedah Shire Council deemed the sheep shed to be in a “very poor condition” and the separate judging building represented a public hazard.
A report to council estimated the cost to maintain the existing sheep shed building and render it safe for the public to be up to $267,000.
A separate report was also provided which listed costs to replace the shed altogether with a modern construction built to current standard. Quotations received for this option ranged from $241,000 to $313,000, according to council’s business paper.
But Mr Fearby said replacement was not necessary as the Ironbark upright posts, for example, were in “excellent condition” and in no danger of collapse.
“The white ants don’t like Ironbark,” he said.
Mr Fearby said the iron roof sheets may need replacing and the small mesh fencing around the sheep yard’s perimeter would also need attention. The roof would also require new guttering but aside from that, he said the base structure was in good order.
“I think it can be saved and it could do another 50 years at least,” he said.
Mr Fearby, whose father ran sheep and sold wool “a pound for a pound” in the 1950s, said the Gunnedah area had a rich sheep heritage.
He said sheep studs from were once prolific in the region at a time when “wool was king”.
Gunnedah’s Ed Wall said not many people would be aware how the Gunnedah district has served with distinction at the sheep industry’s highest level, including big wins at agricultural shows like the Sydney Royal.
While Mr Wall was also interested in protecting the sheep shed and the shire’s history – he said price must be also be a consideration.
“I would like to see it preserved but at what cost?” he asked.
Gunnedah Shire Council endorsed a recommendation at its August meeting that the future of the sheep shed and rotunda at the Gunnedah Showground be considered in the Showground Master Plan process.To order photos from this page click here