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Plans for a rail museum at Bathurst in central-west New South Wales are being touted as an important step to cement the city's status as a major cultural and education hub.
Bathurst Regional Council has lodged plans for the $2.4 million museum, which will feature a model train layout of the Bathurst to Lithgow line as its centrepiece.
It will be housed in the old Railway Institute building, where the former prime minister Ben Chifley lectured as a train driving instructor.
The council is in the final stages of securing a long-term lease for the site, and has earmarked funding in its current budget for the project.
Mayor Gary Rush said the museum would bring to life Bathurst's story as an important rail centre.
"We thought we could put the model within that building, and create a railway museum," Cr Rush said.
"Now, that is very significant because Bathurst was a railway town; it was a working man's, working woman's town.
"It will do as museums do, and that is to give people a sense of the history, and what it meant to a growing town like Bathurst and what it really did mean to the economic development of New South Wales."
Transport for New South Wales will help with funding to refurbish the building.
Museum to complement city's other cultural facilitiesBathurst is Australia's oldest inland settlement, and is home to the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum and the National Motor Racing Museum.
The council is also seeking grant funding, and Councillor Rush said it would complement other museums and cultural sites in the region.
"I could best describe Bathurst today as being a regional centre of educational excellence," Cr Rush said.
"To recognise our past and where we have progressed and what we're now known for, and to make the use of this model, I think it will be a great addition to our cultural facilities here in Bathurst.
"To recreate some of this history, to enable current day Bathurstians, and particularly school children, to understand a bit more about how this place developed and what was key to its development (ie the railway), I think it's going to be a tremendous addition to the cultural facilities that we have here."
The council has also applied for state and federal government funding and is hoping it will be designed and ready for construction in the next 12 months.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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