A place of pride, peace and people – Casino Drill Hall Precinct is officially open

A MAGNIFICENT granite monument honouring our Diggers is the centrepiece of the final stage of the Casino Drill Hall Precinct upgrade project, which was officially opened today by Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan.

The $5.4 million redevelopment was made possible thanks to the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund, where Council was successful in obtaining $2.7 million for the first stage, followed by $885,000 to build a memorial walk and a further $405,000 for much-needed upgrades at Coronation Park.

The project also received $252,000 from the NSW Government’s ClubGRANTS scheme, which helped fund the construction of the Casino Visitor Information Centre, and a $1.2 million contribution from Richmond Valley Council.

Opened in 2019, the first stage included the restoration and expansion of the Drill Hall proper, now home to the Visitor Information Centre and the Northern Rivers Military Museum, creating an important site for community events with the nearby amphitheatre, and added much-needed parking and landscaping.

This final stage has completed the project by adding the memorial walk, reflection pool and beautiful granite monument, which will stand alone as a major feature of the site, while also integrating the Drill Hall with the newly completed Coronation Park.

The unique poppy-themed playground at Coronation Park is complemented by a shaded picnic and BBQ area, new landscaping, boardwalk and a viewing platform set above the banks of the Richmond River.

In developing a theme for the proposed playground, the master plan took into consideration the history and use of the surrounding site, hence the use of the poppy, which is a powerful symbol of war remembrance.

The poppy-themed playground is the first of its kind, having been designed especially for this site and its important links to our Anzac history.

The 114-year-old Drill Hall’s future was placed in doubt when the Department of Defence listed the site for auction in 2014, causing angst in the community.

A management committee made up of representatives from the Casino RSL Sub-branch, City of Lismore RSL Sub-branch, Kyogle RSL Sub-branch, and the 41st BN Association joined with Richmond Valley Council to call for the sale to be deferred to allow for greater community consultation. This resulted in Council making an offer to obtain title to the property.

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the renewed space was a boon for Casino and the Richmond Valley, providing both an attractive destination for passing travellers, and a unique hub for community events.

“In 2015 I helped keep the Casino Drill Hall in community hands by giving Richmond Valley Council the opportunity to purchase it from the Department of Defence before going to auction,” Mr Hogan said.

“The community then approached me with a compelling vision to transform the site into a space that would encourage visitors to stop and spend time in Casino, while also creating a place where the whole community could come together.

“Fortunately, I was able to secure funding to help make that vision a reality – well done to all involved.”

Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow said it was a moment of great pride for him to be part of today’s official opening, saying the revitalised site was something the whole community could be proud of.

Cr Mustow said Council recognised it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a lasting community asset a stone’s throw from the beautiful Richmond River.

He said the community could be very proud of what had been achieved.

“We faced many challenges with this project over the past year because of the impacts of the COVID pandemic and persistent wet weather, but it is wonderful to be here today to see the end result – a true community asset for residents and visitors to enjoy all year round,” Cr Mustow said.

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