Like a phoenix, Bowra's Hill Top Store begins its new phase of life

Like a phoenix, Bowra's Hill Top Store begins its new phase of life

The Hill Top Store, perched at the crown of Bowraville's historic conservation area and built in 1930, has a rich and meaningful history for the former capital of the Nambucca Shire.

Back in the day it was a thriving store run by the Busteeds, and then later by the Blackman family.

Photo courtesy of the Bowraville Folk Museum

Photo courtesy of the Bowraville Folk Museum

According to the Nambucca Valley Council's 'History Walk' literature, it still retains its original shopfront and leadlight skylights to this day.

Much later on it was used by Nambucca Valley Phoenix as an art gallery and op shop, providing a space for people with a disability to create and sell unique pieces of art and craft, and work behind the counter.

But the proud building has stood idle for a couple of years now. Until this week...

Work has just started on transforming the old edifice into a new HealthOne centre for the Bowraville community.

The HealthOne centre is a fulfilment of a commitment made by the State Government through the Bowraville Brokerage Solutions - as part of the recommendations passed down from the State Inquiry into the Bowraville murders.

"It is part of a commitment by the NSW Government funding the HealthOne NSW program to develop an integrated approach to the provision of primary and community health services," Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said.

Ms Pavey said the HealthOne centres aimed to create a stronger and more efficient primary health care system by bringing general practice and a range of community health care services together as a 'one stop shop'.

According to NSW Health, services currently being provided by the Mid North Coast Local Health District in rented premises at Bowraville will eventually be moved to the HealthOne facility. And local GPs will also relocate to the new HealthOne centre.

The building was earmarked by the State Government last year, but COVID-19 has delayed the start of construction until now.

Port Macquarie-based company Reeman Constructions Pty Ltd was recently awarded the tender.

And according to workmen on site today, the build is expected to take around nine months with an anticipated finish by July - the need to work around the existing facade instead of building an entirely new building from scratch has led to a longer project timeframe.

The George St house directly beside the Hill Top Store will be carefully pulled down (as it contains asbestos) to make room for a carpark.

The design mock-up. Photo contributed by NSW Government

The design mock-up. Photo contributed by NSW Government

While noone Guardian News has spoken with has objected to a HealthOne centre being built in Bowraville, some have quietly expressed concern at the chosen location since the announcement was made by NSW Health last year.

Some in the community were hopeful the building might eventually be used to house an art and culture centre - a place to show the richness of local Indigenous traditions and heritage.

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