Tailem Bend's visitor information centre, railway museum seeks aid from Coorong council

Photo: Facebook/Tailem Info Station.

Photo: Facebook/Tailem Info Station.

Tailem Bend's visitor information centre and railway museum is at risk of closure unless the Coorong council, or another operator, agrees to take it on.

Dwindling volunteer numbers have led to opening hours being reduced at the Tailem Info Station over the past six months.

As a consequence, visitor numbers have fallen by 50 per cent since April, and revenue has decreased.

The issue came to a head at a meeting on August 21, at which no-one was willing to stand for any leadership position within the association which runs the station.

The association then wrote to the Coorong council, asking it to take control of the visitor information centre and museum, and to manage the station's finances and volunteer rostering.

"We feel that operations can continue with minimal impact or disruption," Margaret Jaensch said on behalf of the station's volunteers, in a letter published in the council's most recent agenda.

"The volunteers have been trained, inducted and are well versed in the operations, with the exception of financial management."

Other options considered by the Tailem Info Station Association included closing the station completely, turning the association into a council committee, and seeking another third-party operator who might take over.

Each was rejected as too risky.

Informal conversations suggested neither Tailem Bend Progress Association nor Tailem Business and Tourism was currently in a position to get involved, and the council's senior community and tourism officer suggested community organisations' problems could not be solved by establishing council committees.

At the council's meeting on Tuesday night, Councillor Brenton Qualmann said it was sad that the situation had got to this point.

"Council helped save this building and the railway history; now it looks like it may not be able to continue due to the common problem we have around here: (a lack of) volunteers," he said.

Councillors will discuss the options available to them at a workshop on November 19 and make a decision at a subsequent council meeting.

The Tailem Info Station Association has managed the visitor information centre and museum since 2014 with a cast of volunteers registered with the council.

The 106-year-old railway station was restored and managed by the Tailem Rail Committee between 1999 and 2014.

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