Restoration works are set to begin on the Willards Farm homestead and outbuildings, marking the first stage of Redland City Council’s Birkdale Community Precinct development.
Redland-based company Baroque Group has been awarded a $5.06m contract to restore the 150-year-old property.
Mayor Karen Williams said restoring the farm was important to many residents and she was looking forward to sharing the site’s unique history with the world during the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
“The history of this property dates back many decades, but in 2016 it was facing demolition, prompting council to step in and buy it for $1.45m to protect its heritage for future generations.
“Since then, locals have shared some fascinating memories of the property and I know I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing new life breathed into these historically important buildings.”
Plans for the Birkdale Community Precinct include a public swimming lagoon, cultural centre and permanent outdoor stage, while 36 hectares will be protected as conservation.
Capital investment in the development is tipped to be about $300m, which includes commitments from the state and federal governments to fund the Olympic whitewater rafting facility.
Willards Farm is earmarked to anchor the precinct’s food hub and will be surrounded by a range of other attractions such as food pods, Victorian gardens and recreation space.
The hub is described in the master plan as a place where visitors will be able to learn about early settlement in Redlands, sample gourmet food and take cookery classes using local produce.
Both the Willards Farm homestead and outbuildings, and the US Army Radio Receiving Station, are included on the Queensland Heritage Register and Redlands Local Heritage Register.
Cr Paul Bishop said restoration works on the property would be completed using best practice state heritage principles overseen by technical experts.
“On behalf of residents who began working with council and the state government in 2015 to save the place from demolition, I am delighted to see council get this project under way,” Cr Bishop said.
“Over 150 years ago, the Willard pioneers arrived in frontier country, using local timbers to build one of the oldest remaining hand-hewn settlements in Queensland.
“Miraculously, their homestead and farm dwellings still anchor that former pastoral estate, which we now call the Birkdale Community Precinct.
“Future generations will be amazed about the history of this property and its legacy.”
Cr Williams said Willards Farm would act as a “welcome gate” for international tourists visiting Birkdale during the 2032 Olympics.
“I am excited to share our unique history with the world,” she said.
Works are expected to be completed in mid-2024.
“Restoring this fabulous homestead – along with the milking shed, creamery, garage, inground well and elevated water tank – to its former glory is a project dear to many Redlands Coast residents’ hearts,” Cr Williams said.