The evening of the 16th December 2020 opening of the refurbished Cairns Courthouse is an event to be remembered. The dignitaries including the Queensland Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, State MP’s, the Mayor of Cairns, Bob Manning OAM, and many other distinguished guests attended to illuminate the completion and opening of this splendid building with so much history.
The First Nations people were there in force with a number having mixed emotions due to the prominence of this small parcel of Cairns land having been a Police lockup for their ancestors and the cause of sorry times.
The conflict between the First Nations people and modern Cairns was beautifully articulated by Associate Professor Henrietta Marrie AM, who pointed out aspects of painful memories from the sorry times on the site and how despite many tens of thousands of years of occupation by First Nations peoples, the modern settlers from the UK had never reached any accords or settlements concerning the dispossession of First Nations peoples from their land.
Continuing on from the sadness of early settlement, the future of the site was generously acknowledged by Associate Professor Henrietta Marrie AM and embraced by the Indigenous community as a place where all people could come together to appreciate the arts and learn from each other.
This speech was powerfully put by the gentle woman and respectfully followed by all attending the Opening Ceremony.
The Queensland Governor’s speech covered many fascinating aspects of the building’s legal history and his personal involvement in hearings there as a Judge.
Our very own Mayor Manning then delivered acknowledgement of the many people and organizations responsible for the funding and delivery of the refurbished Court House by the 16th December 2020 and how the Arts Precinct with the Court House as its jewel will open up the Cairns region to visitors from Australia, the Pacific and the World with future exhibitions and performances.
Cairns is coming of age with this and a number of other civic buildings now completed and with the dreadful scourge of COVID-19 hopefully under control in Australia, every resident of Cairns will have the opportunity to enjoy these wonderful facilities.
As the ceremonies reached completion, the writer had an opportunity to interview Mayor Manning OAM briefly and congratulated the Mayor on this wonderful achievement in the opening of the Court House. While the acquisition and refurbishment building works cost $14M, the benefits of attracting many people from far and wide to enjoy exhibitions, art shows, and performances in the halls of the Court House, will deliver benefits across the community and region, it is interesting the Court House has not yet been formally valued by Council.
Valuations may seem like a dry old subject when compared to the celebrations of the project’s completion, they are vital to the community as it is rate payers, government State and Federal funds that has allowed for the refurbishment of the Court House to be completed, and now that it is ready to begin its new life as an Arts Center, it is equally important for the public to understand the value of this completed project by the provision of a formal Valuation.
The Eacham Times www.eachamtimes.com.au and the Cairns Times www.cairnstimes.com.au congratulates Mayor Manning for the vision and foresight to undertake this key redevelopment of the Court House and for the beautiful finishes of the building. We are sure that residents and visitors to Cairns for generations to come will appreciate this colonial building.