It has taken almost two-and-a-half years, but the plans for the Cobargo Bushfire Resilience Centre (CBRC) are close to being finalised.
Designers TAKT Studio expect to submit the DA in coming weeks, and then proceed to tender later this year so that construction can begin on filling one of the glaring gaps on the historic main street.
Plans and the model for the centre were presented during a community engagement afternoon recently at Cobargo School of Arts Hall.
Rhonda Ayliffe, vice-chair of CBRC, said there was "a lot of excitement about what will be going up in the main street".
"The community has been involved in lots of the decision-making and percolating and sifting of ideas since we got the funding," Ms Ayliffe said.
"This is the diamond from all of that coal."
The community group secured $4.8million funding for the project in July 2021.
Marking the community's resilience and recovery
Ms Ayliffe said the plans were quite different from what CBRC submitted to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.
Originally the thinking was that the CBRC would be a museum, then it became a cultural centre, she said.
The centre will be both a gathering place for the community and a unique tourism offering for the region with a permanent collection of material honouring the RFS and the region's recovery and resilience journey.
The centre will contain a state-of-the-art theatrette, a flexible exhibition/display space, a commemorative courtyard and contemplation area and a small street front café with retail shop.
Ms Ayliffe said the theatrette will tell the story of the recovery.
Another stream of CBRC's work is an oral history of the Badja Forest Road Fire in partnership with the National Library of Australia. The project is funded through the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund.
Representatives from the library will hold an information day in Cobargo and Quaama on Sunday, August 14.
Masters of their own destiny
The centre will also develop and deliver educational programs, exhibitions, and events that connect to other fire and disaster endangered communities worldwide, while supporting the economic and social revival of the local region.
"The world has been really paying attention to our recovery because what we did was unusual," Ms Ayliffe said.
"Lismore groups reached out to us through Facebook pages after their first flood and we all gave them the same message - community cohesion and togetherness, and there is something to hope for."
In Cobargo's case, Ms Ayliffe's parents, Brian and Mary Ayliffe, donated their land at 70 Princes Highway to the community project.
"If you don't have people willing to do things like that, you don't have a place to start," Ms Ayliffe said.
"My father said 'what about us donating our land to the community to make something from all this mess'."