$1 million awarded at first ever Heritage PitchFest event

History has been made as the historic Windy Station Woolshed, south of Tamworth, was awarded $1 million in matched funding after winning the first ever NSW Government Heritage PitchFest in Sydney.

Windy Station Woolshed

Windy Station Woolshed was one of 4 finalists that went head-to-head at the Heritage PitchFest – the first event of its kind in 44 years of the NSW Government's Heritage Grants program, which is currently worth $5 million in total.

The historic Windy Station Woolshed was built at the turn of the Century in 1901 and has not been used for many decades.

The $1 million matched funding grant will support the owners to conserve the State Heritage Listed site, turning it into a multifunctional event space and making it accessible to the community and visitors to regional NSW.

Heritage NSW Executive Director Sam Kidman said the four applicants were selected to compete after submitting proposals on how they would use the $1 million funding to revitalise State Heritage Listed sites and bring them back to life.

"All of the applicants presented great proposals and I congratulate them for their vision and tenacity in getting to this point," Mr Kidman said.

"Our first ever Heritage PitchFest was a fantastic opportunity for the public to contribute in a meaningful way to our State's rich heritage.

"Heritage NSW received an overwhelmingly positive response to our first Heritage NSW PitchFest from applicants and the general public, who are excited about engaging with heritage in NSW and having their say on the projects that will have a direct benefit to the community.

"The $1 million in matched funding from the Heritage PitchFest, is part of the larger $5 million 2023–2025 NSW Heritage Grants program, announced in September."

Windy Station Manager Agritourism Clare Lee was part of the successful pitching team and said the team was thrilled to have won the inaugural Pitchfest.

"We're so proud to have received this award. It's an incredible opportunity that demonstrates what can be done with regional heritage, and I hope it helps and encourages others who might like to re-activate their empty spaces," Ms Lee said.

"With this funding, we're hoping to create a vibrant conferencing and educational facility, a space for creative production that takes advantage of the spectacular use of light and texture within the woolshed, and a wedding and social venue that celebrates our rich history and exciting future."

The team has great hopes for this heritage space because it is truly unique and Tamworth doesn't have anything else quite like it.

The other 3 proposals that pitched included:

  • a new museum in Bondi that celebrates Australia's history of Surf Lifesaving
  • an innovative readaptation of a disused coal powerplant at Corrimal
  • a multipurpose hospitality precinct at a Western Sydney historic estate.

The judging panel, comprised of heritage experts, reviewed and ranked the finalists based on their application and pitch. Their scores were then considered alongside an audience vote.

The audience vote offered a new opportunity to the citizens of New South Wales to engage in a meaningful way, help generate and inspire interest in heritage preservation and activation, and a way to have a say on projects that will have a direct benefit to the community.

The event was recorded and will be publicly available soon.

For more information on other grants still open for applications (open until 2 December), including guidelines and applications, visit Heritage grants.