THE former Mildura Powerhouse Station is about to undergo a transformation which will see it turned into a vibrant cultural, community and commercial hub for locals and visitors to enjoy.

The Powerhouse operated from the 1920s through to the 1950s providing power to the town until the SEC – State Electricity Commission – took over Mildura’s electricity supply.

The $7 million project is being funded by the Federal and State governments and the Mildura Rural City Council.

Construction will commence once a building company has been appointed which is expected to be confirmed shortly.

The funding breakdown includes $500,000 from the Victorian Government Regional Infrastructure Fund, $5 million from the Victorian Government Crisis Committee of Cabinet – Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, $1 million from the Federal Government Murray Darling Basin Economic Development Program, a further $196,000 from Sustainability Victoria and council is contributing $500,000.

Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria, Danielle Green, visited Mildura last Friday to tour the Powerhouse and to meet with the council to get a first-hand briefing on the project’s plans.

The project is set to create 34 jobs and include upgrades to the existing Powerhouse building and the creation of a Village Square, featuring an in-depth digital information platform, cafe, outdoor area, public amenities and car park.

“I think this is going to be brilliant!” Ms Green said.

“It’s great to be back in Mildura, whether it’s sports or recreation when I attended the opening of the Mildura Sporting Precinct, and now to see a project involving the creative industries and the activation of the next stage of the Riverfront Development is wonderful.

“I was delighted to have opened Stage One and so to see the next iteration of this project is tremendous.

“Having lived here some years ago, to see this area with a fresh set of eyes is what it is like for a visitor coming here and also for locals.

“And now to have a quality facility like this Powerhouse development will be a wonderful asset for the community.”

Ms Green said that her government realises the importance of the creative industries to regional areas.

“We are proud as a government to not have an arts portfolio − we have a creative industries portfolio − and that is really to illustrate to people that the creative industries are a really good pursuit to be involved in,” she said.

“There are jobs created through it and the arts are not just something we do for fun, it can provide a career path for a young person working in the creative industries.

“I think that is a great message to young people and great for our indigenous community too.

“As someone who lived in this region, I am still learning so much about the local Indigenous people. They are the longest living culture on the planet and everyone worldwide wants to know about our First Nations people.

“Their involvement with the Powerhouse will be an absolute draw card for people to come to Mildura and hear these stories in what will be a wonderful space.”

Ms Green praised the Mildura Rural City Council for their work in bringing the project to fruition and the way in which they had consulted the community.

“It’s a credit to the council that they have involved more than 1000 locals in their consultations in regard to the project,” she said.

“As the Victorian Government, we are really happy to have been able to contribute from our Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund to support the development.

“One of the upsides from the pandemic is that we have put more money into help regional communities recover and you can see that this is money well spent.”

The interior of the new space will utilise the building’s original exposed red brick walls which are being cleaned and then painted with a clear sealant. The walls will also undergo some acoustic treatment to enhance the ambience of the venue which will host intimate, bespoke theatre performances in a basement area.

A mezzanine level will be built and will be accessible from the first foyer area enabling people to see down into the basement event space.

A variety of events will be able to be held in the new venue, which will have a kitchen to enable catering to be supplied for the events.

Some of the key features of the project include: flexible indoor and outdoor event spaces, transformation of the former Powerhouse basement space into a new purpose-built venue, a visitor interpretation and inspiration spaces and large outdoor shade structure.

The entire precinct will sit within new landscaping, matching the rest of the redeveloped riverfront area.

To learn about the history of the Powerhouse and follow the transformation visit: www.mildurariverfront.com.au/updates.

– JOHN DOOLEY