Gunnedah Shire Council has endorsed public safety works for an area on Pensioners Hill.

In a letter to council last year, Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group sought approval for a cultural project for a mural on the hill’s concrete water tank and the area surrounding it.

The tank was installed during the steam train era and was later used as water supply for the residents of the hill.

The concerns arose when council officers visited the proposed site and found several public safety issues that will now be addressed, regardless of whether the cultural project continues.

The work will be funded within existing budget allocations and cost approximately $30,000.

Council also endorsed providing a letter of support to GULG for their proposed cultural project. The project’s final approval may depend on the development application process and the final scope and design.

The land is Gunnedah Shire Council owned, however, GULG and Rotary Club of Gunnedah West maintain Pensioners Hill.

The Gunnedah Times spoke with GULG chairperson George Truman about the group’s plans which he said were in early stages and a part of a concept with a few components.

“We were trying to increase the walking opportunities on Pensioners Hill rather than just up at the top. In order to make it a bigger loop, the track would sort of come down past the water tank,” he said.

“In conjunction with some of the Elders and indigenous community in Gunnedah, we were aware of the early history and, as the name puts it, Pensioners Hill. There were a lot of shanties up on the hill that were both inhabited by the indigenous community as well as Europeans.”

The idea of a mural came from talking with people about how the area could be better utilised as the tank holds historical significance to the hill.

Among those people he continued to speak with was Dianne Law, who is a part of the Historical Society along with Col Rosewell (Historical Society and Rotary West).

The mural would depict the hill’s early history to the present and could be viewed from the top. It was also suggested to put a viewing platform where the eagle statue is to look down into the tank.

A potential table and chair, a monument with previous resident’s names, and a walking track were also considered.

“We do not want to distract that [Pensioners Hill] is a natural area but it is certainly getting well utilised now that we have got the playground up there as well … and [looking over the northern slope] all you sort of look down onto is this concrete water tank and lots of weeds and rubbish,” Mr Truman said.

“[We were thinking] to try to make that area a bit more appealing than what it currently is.

“We just need to have some stages and some plans in the pipeline so we can start to work out what we can do and the sort of funding we might need to source for the different components of it.”

Mr Truman stated the tank and area are mostly unused other than people using it as a dumping ground.

“People have obviously been climbing into the tank because there are broken bottles and things,” he said.

He stated that because the group would be encouraging people to look at the mural, it makes sense safety measures would need to be in place.

“I guess there are some issues there but it has always been open and people have been going around there up until now anyway but certainly if you are going to increase public [access] in that area, [safety precautions need to be made],” he said.

“The issue of concern would be people climbing in and falling in the tank.”

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