The Old Fairbridgians' Association is celebrating an 'absolute triumph' after the Fairbridge Children's Park was revealed among the National Trust Heritage Award winners, being crowned in the Education and Interpretation category.
David and Dudley Hill accepted the award on behalf of the Old Fairbridgians' Association at Thursday's ceremony at Dolton House in Sydney, the latter saying the success 'makes all the hard work worth it'.
He went on to label the victory 'a real David versus Goliath story' considering projects entered by the Sydney Opera House, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Sydney Living Museum were among the category's shortlist.
We were up against some real heavy-hitters in that category so we are very excited about the award.Old Fairbridgians' Association's Dudley Hill
"We're incredibly proud of what we've been able to achieve," Mr Hill said.
"We were up against some real heavy-hitters in that category so we are very excited about the award. Stoked is a very good way to put it.
"We simply cannot over-emphasise how grateful we are to all of our close friends in Orange, Molong, the Central West and beyond who supported us."
Clouston Associates nominated Fairbridge Children's Park for the 2021 National Trust Heritage Awards, with leading architect Leonard Lynch and Aaron Driver both on hand at Thursday's ceremony too.
Mr Hill thanked Clouston Associates specifically, with the initial design work for the park undertaken as a pro-bono project as the Old Fairbridgians' Association sought to preserve the history of the farm.
Almost 1,000 poor British children were sent to Australia without their parents between 1938 and 1974 to live and work at Fairbridge Farm, near Molong, where they were met with a tough and sometimes abusive upbringing.
Below the decaying village, the park now conveys Fairbridge's history through landscape spaces, artefacts and new art installations. Clouston Associates calls it 'an antidote to the hardship and isolation of former residents'.
The $1.5 million project was opened in March of 2020, followed by the construction of a war memorial to the 95 Fairbridgians who joined the armed services which was opened earlier this year.
"We were acutely aware the only way to preserve the legacy of the 1,000 or so children who passed through Fairbridge Farm was to do something like we've done, so we are incredibly proud," Mr Hill said.
Once again thanking all those involved, Mr Hill mentioned a few 'leading lights' in Orange mayor Reg Kidd, Cabonne mayor Kevin Beatty, NSW deputy premier John Barilaro, Wade Marlow and Doctor Des Mulcahy.
"We cannot emphasise how grateful we are too everyone who supported the project," he said.
The National Trust Heritage Awards are in their 27th year and recognise projects, initiatives and individuals that demonstrate excellence in the conservation, protection, and interpretation of Aboriginal, built, natural and cultural heritage.
The restoration of the Cathedral of St Michael and St John in Bathurst also won an award in the Conservation: Built Heritage category.
Orange Regional Museum's 'Inherit: Old and New Histories' was also shortlisted in the Heritage Events, Exhibitions and Tours section.
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