Renovations are under way at the New Italy Museum complex.
Renovations are under way at the New Italy Museum complex. Samantha Elley

Major renovations planned for popular tourist attraction

AS VARIOUS towns on the Northern Rivers prepare for planned highway bypasses, operators of one tourist attraction have sought to maximise new business opportunities.

New Italy Museum president John Barnes said in a recent newsletter that the site, run by a non-profit organisation dedicated to the history of Italian settlers in northern NSW, would soon be in a "last man standing situation".

"In about three years the towns of Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell will be completely bypassed while ... our site will not," he said.

"It is logical to anticipate a considerable increase or a healthy growth rate in visitor numbers."

Mr Barnes detailed ongoing renovations of the museum and cafe building but said final costings were not yet available.

Museum group coordinator Lester Cooke said the organisation aimed "to keep the style and atmosphere of the New Italy settler community, working closely with a range of sources, descendants and community members, the Heritage Council, architect Heike Seubert with builders Jimmy Barnes and Pete Robinson".

Renovations are underway at New Italy Museum in northern NSW
Renovations are underway at New Italy Museum in northern NSW Courtesy of New Italy Museum

Car park expansion and overhaul in 18 months' time was also planned to "give us the opportunity to both cater for more short stops and to increase the number of overnight stays by caravans" said Mr Barnes.

Mr Barnes said the organisation had taken early steps towards business growth by increasing shopping hours in the lead up to Christmas and introducing live music on Sunday afternoons in the onsite piazza.

The museum gift shop featured a range of artisan wares from Italy including Murano jewellery, Nesti Dante soaps from Florence and linen from Umbria as well as a skincare line based on olive oil and made by an Italian family in Western Australia.

"A group of talented Australian indigenous artists have designed a fabulous, colourful range of gift ware that includes tea pots, mugs, tea towels, handy tote bags, iPad cases, bookmarks and more with part profit returning to the indigenous communities" also available in the gift shop, as outlined in the newsletter.

New Italy is becoming "not only a stop off point for long distance travellers but also a meeting place for locals" said Mr Barnes.

He said the New Italy Museum was "desperately short of willing hands to assist in the gift shop and/or museum and pavilion" and was seeking extra volunteers.



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