The Australian Horse Centre @ Scone
See: Featured image of front cover of full report
The Australian Horse Centre, Scone NSW is a shared vision for the Upper Hunter horse industry to celebrate the region as the premier Equine epicentre and ‘Horse Capital of Australia’.
Scone and its surrounding areas are renowned as being one of the world’s largest and most respected thoroughbred breeding centres second only to Kentucky, USA. The region also boasts the headquarters of the Australian Stock Horse Society, the largest horse breed association in Australia with over 170,000 registered horses.
Building onto these two great cornerstones of the equine industry in Australia, a national symbol or monument in the form of a tourism destination, information and interpretive centre and museum facility has been proposed to firmly cast the nations’ attention on this unique and important place in Australian culture and tradition.
The horse is synonymous with Australian history, from the arrival of the first fleet in 1788 to the exploits of stock men, pioneers, explorers and bushrangers through travel, transport, business and pleasure. The adaptability of man to this continent was made possible on horseback and has now become folklore through stories such as ‘The Man from Snowy River’ and ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ by A.B. Patterson. The stockhorse ‘Walers’ that proved to be the finest military horses in the world for their intelligence, stamina and determination, have long been exported to the world whilst Australia has proven to be a fertile equine nursery for sustaining all other breeds with some 70 horse breed societies now flourishing across the country.
It is with this knowledge of our rich history and long established industries that we begin to determine the best way forward to planning, designing and procuring a National Horse Centre.
A key spokesperson for the proposal, Dr Bill Howey described his vision for the centre in the February edition of Racing & Breeding News 2009:
“… nigh on two centuries of breeding, not only thoroughbreds, has sparked a move by a group of industry leaders in the area to establish an Australian Horse Heritage Centre at Scone, representing the history, evolution and progress of the horse in Australia and its impact on national development, identity, sport, work, recreation, leisure and culture”.
Plans for the Centre are for it to emulate world’s best practice and be established as a major regional, national and international tourist, cultural, social and education facility. The Centre is to embrace all aspects of the history of horses in Australia and include interactive displays as well as memorabilia, works of art and iconic totems.
A steering committee comprising of three very experienced people in the horse industry in the Scone district, Dr Judy White, W.P. ‘Bill’ Howey and Helen Sinclair, has been formed.”
Dr Judy White is an eminent author who has chronicled the history in the Scone district of the White family of Belltrees, icons of Australian horse sport and also a branch of the family which in the late 1800’s owned Segenhoe and who played a huge role in the development of the Australian thoroughbred.
Bill Howey, a former leading Upper Hunter veterinarian, has had a big input into Scone racing and breeding, including being Race Club President for a number of years, while Helen Sinclair is a former manager of a small Scone stud who is now a long-time secretary of the Race Club. She has also been secretary of the Equine Centre.
This initial steering committee sought assistance from a Newcastle based professional master planning and architectural consultant, Schreiber Hamilton Architecture. With recent experience in the national iconic Slim Dusty Centre, the newly completed Cessnock Performing Arts Complex as well as major public and commercial experience, SHA were invited to assist the committee to develop a strategy for the logical way forward through the first planning steps for a project of this nature.
Through discussions and correspondence with the committee and input from Mary Spora, Scone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a simple questionnaire was developed to capture the vision for the project from likely stakeholders, local residents, authorities and potential sponsors. The results and feedback from this questionnaire have been included in this report to aid in understanding the community’s perceptions and ideas towards the concept for a National Horse Centre.
Once the questionnaire was collated and analysed, the second step led to a public gathering of the participants to enable each stakeholder to voice their ideas and opinions in an open forum. This forum was chaired by Dr Bill Howey and facilitated by SHA with the attendees, agenda, discussion and outcomes of this workshop outlined in the following document.
“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence” Pam Brown