Novak's bold equine vision for Grafton
HORSE statues along the main street of Grafton and a national horse museum within the walls of the old Grafton jail are just a few ways that the Clarence Valley could capitalise on its rich history and attract people to the region.
Independent candidate Debrah Novak raised the idea at last week's candidates forum and has since outlined her plan that invokes the spirit of the early pioneers in Grafton.
"We were very bold and visionary in those days and the legacy of that we can see all around us in Grafton,” she said.
"After the Grafton Jail is decommissioned I would like to turn it into the National Horse Museum and put horse statues throughout the main streets of Grafton.
"This would be in honour of the rich horse heritage here in the region and across Australia.”
Ms Novak has been passionate about the museum since she heard it mentioned a number of years ago and believes that was the type of bold idea that could boost tourism in the area.
"Here in the Clarence we rely on 'hand-of-god tourism', which means we are reliant on people randomly visiting and if there is a cloud in the sky or a drop of rain that can be enough to stop them coming.” she said.
"We need to look at what sets us apart and we need to offer more than just the river or the beach.
"Our strength is our extraordinary cultural history as the first city on the North Coast and this cultural legacy is the envy of many and we need to develop some more civic pride around that.”
The rich history to which Ms Novak refers was the role horse breeders in the Clarence Valley area played in providing war horses for conflicts such as the Boer War and World War I, along with breeding horses for racing.
"Back in early Clarence history, many farmers' value-add crop was breeding horses.”
"Charles Tindall was regarded as one of the best colonial-era thoroughbred breeders in Australia at Ramornie Station, which was about 20 minutes out of Grafton.”
The museum plan was part of a broad strategy to leverage the Clarence Valley's historic significance and Ms Novak envisaged historic drives incorporating the Summerland way, linking Grafton and Casino.
"Not only could we have statues of horses around the town, they could be along the Summerland Way,” she said.
"This would create a real incentive for people to come inland and experience what the Clarence and Richmond Valleys have to offer.
Ms Novak said the old jail site had cultural significance, having been built in 1893 and recognised that the site could be developed in a diverse way.
"At the end of the day it's not just about building the museum for the sake of it, you could have state of the art exhibits and accommodation within the site too.
"The museum has to make money and have a sustainable business model.”
"This plan is about capitalising on the cultural tourism sector which governments have identified as a clear economic driver.”