Barcaldine’s Main Street featured on Healthy Active By Design
Following the death of the politically significant Tree of Knowledge, the Barcaldine Regional Council approached Brian Hooper Architect and architectural firm m3architecture to design a memorial in acknowledgement of the tree and its historical value. This project was implemented as part of a larger revitalisation of the Barcaldine Main Street precinct, which aimed to create a destination for future projects with heritage and cultural value.
Activating Barcaldine’s commercial heart
Barcaldine’s Main Street rethinks the functional relationships between pedestrians, the national highway, the railway station and the town’s heritage attractions. Individual projects include the renovation of the Globe Hotel, a new tourist information centre, new interpretive works and facilities to enable public markets. A new project, including relocation of the region’s library to the main street, is currently being developed.
Barcaldine is built on the Southern side of Oak Street (a national highway), with only the railway station, a park and the Tree of Knowledge (a nationally listed heritage site) on the highway’s north edge. Previously, many visitors to Barcaldine have stopped just long enough to take a photograph of the Tree of Knowledge and left without engaging with the town or local businesses on the opposite side of the street.
To address this, a Masterplan was developed which included several alterations to the site that aimed to prioritise pedestrian movement and destination engagement. Amendments included the relocation of a carpark, the redirection and narrowing of the the national highway and reduced vehicle speeds. It additionally opened view lines to the Tree, created safer places for pedestrians to cross, and reinstated a generous public plaza beneath a new shaded canopy.
The re-design of the space means that visitors are now required to park their vehicles farther away from the Tree of Knowledge, in the town centre. This counter-intuitive strategy ensures that visitors now interact as pedestrians within the town’s commercial heart.
For Barcaldine, its two main tourist attractions (The Tree of Knowledge and the Visitor Information Centre) are treated as ‘anchor tenants’, separated by a four-minute walk. Subsequently, the local businesses in between these two attractions have been transformed into specialty stores.
The strategy applied has been borrowed from “retail theory”. At an urban scale this is the equivalent of placing the bread and milk at the back of the shop, making those who enter pass by everything else the shopkeeper has to offer.