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20 March, 2021

Church moves towards heritage listing.

Heritage listing for the Uniting Church on Walsh Street in Mareeba has moved a step closer after the Mareeba Shire Council (MSC) agreed in principle with a submission from the Department of Environment and Science at last Wednesday councils meeting.

By Phil Brandel

The last service at the Eddie Oribin designed Uniting Church in Mareeba, which is now one step closer to being Heritage listed.

Heritage listing for the Uniting Church on Walsh Street in Mareeba has moved a step closer after the Mareeba Shire Council (MSC) agreed in principle with a submission from the Department of Environment and Science at last Wednesday councils meeting.

According to council documents “An application has been made to the Department of Environment and Science (DES) proposing the entry of the Mareeba Uniting Church at 189 Walsh Street, Mareeba into the Queensland Heritage Register,”

“The application covers all of Lots 4, 5 and 6 (church, hall and dwelling house), and a substantial part of the adjoining Walsh and Rankin Street road reserves.

“DES seeks Council's views on the proposed entry.”

Last Wednesday councillors voted unanimously to agree with the officer’s recommendation which was “To offer no objection to the application to enter the Mareeba Uniting Church building on Lots 5 and 6 at 189 Walsh Street, Mareeba, in the Queensland Heritage Register, subject to the owners not objecting but sees no value in the listing of the church hall and house on Lots 4, 5 and 6 at 189 Walsh Street, Mareeba, in the Queensland Heritage Register; and objects to any listing of the Walsh Street and Rankin Street road reserves, as these reserves do not meet any cultural heritage criteria.”

This means the church is now one step closer to being heritage listed, whereas the adjoining house, church hall and reserve will not be heritage listed.

The Australian Institute of Architects made the submission to the DES to heritage list the church as it was designed by internationally renowned Cairns Architect Eddie Oribin.

Queensland President of the Australian Institute of Architects Dr Michael Lavery said that Mr Oribin was a innovate architect and that his innovation stretched across structure and details in terms of dealing with the local climate.

“His buildings were beautifully detailed and always well built, Eddie Oribin brought some of the best work out to the regional areas,” he said.

Mr Lavery said there were several reasons why the church was so unique.

“It’s an outstanding example of his (Oribin’s) work within it, is a series of characteristics that were specifically exclusive to his work,” he said.

“It has fantastic craftsmanship, he used quite complex geometry in this building and his use of natural light makes this of extremely high value.”

"The building is made from incredible handmade bricks and timber from the local area it is beautifully crafted."

Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin said she would support any move to have the building protected but there were no plans for the council to buy the property.

"It is a beautiful building, but It's unfair to expect the ratepayer to purchase this site," Cr Toppin said.

"We are a small council, but we are very keen to see that the right buyer purchases this iconic piece of architecture."

According to a Department of Environment & Science spokesperson:

“The public submission period for the application closes on 26 March 2021,” they said.

“The Department of Environment and Science will then make its heritage recommendation on the application and submissions will be published on the Queensland Government website.

“Owning a place listed on the Queensland Heritage Register does not stop owners from making changes or additions.

“Any proposed changes are assessed against the impact on the heritage values of the place.

“The General Exemption Certificate provides upfront approval for ongoing maintenance and minor work for all places on the Register.

“The Queensland Heritage Council is the independent statutory body who decides what places are entered into the Register and it is anticipated they will consider this application at a mid-year meeting.”

The Uniting Church said in a statement that the decision to close the church and sell the land and adjoining buildings was prompted by several factors, including the expansion of a nearby roundabout, noise and changes in gatherings due to COVID.


 


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