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Bush to the bay journey underway – Wynnum Fringe revives forgotten outback Spiegeltent

Wynnum Fringe 4 mins read
Tom Oliver, founder of the Wynnum Fringe at The Augathella Spiegeltent in Augathella

800km away from Brisbane under a spectacular Outback sky, The Augathella Spiegeltent in Augathella (previously known as the The Q150 Shed) is being packed down and onto a semi-trailer to make the long trip to it new home in Wynnum, on Brisbane’s bayside.

 

 

The relocation is the brainchild of Tom Oliver, founder of the Wynnum Fringe - Queensland’s trailblazing bayside arts festival. He is reviving this forgotten piece of Queensland’s cultural history and giving it new life, and at the same time, giving arts and community organisations in Brisbane a new place to call home! Images here

 

“From Augathella to The Bay, Spiegeltent journey a response to the national live entertainment crisis.”

 

At the same time, a groundbreaking community crowdfund is underway to make this relocation and refurbishment happen.  The campaign seeks to raise $500,000 to restore the run-down Spiegeltent from the regional town of Augathella to provide a new semi-permanent performance venue for the Brisbane region and other parts of Australia. The first milestone of $100,000 was raised in just three weeks!!!

 

Tom Oliver said the crowdfunding campaign was an urgent response to the national live entertainment crisis which has seen several major festival cancellations and high-profile venue closures over the past 12 months.

 

“This project will provide a much-needed platform to nurture emerging talent, bring communities together, increase capacity-building across the sector and create year-round jobs for creative workers,” Oliver said.  “It not only revitalises a forgotten gem in Queensland’s cultural history but gives the Brisbane region a new live performance venue of similar capacity to the recently shuttered The Zoo. 

 

Tom and his team started the 800km journey from Augathella to Brisbane this week, after an official Presentation of the Keys. It will take the team of five people, five days to deconstruct the Spiegeltent in Augathella, before the actual trip east, and its reconstruction.

 

Designed by world famous fourth-generation Belgian tent-building family The Klessens, The Augathella Spiegeltent was originally commissioned in 2008 by the Queensland Government as part of Queensland’s 150th anniversary celebrations. It toured across the state before settling in Augathella, nine-hours’ drive West of Brisbane. The venue was a community function and entertainment centre until it fell into disrepair many years ago and now deemed not useable by The Murweh Shire Council. 

 

With its uniquely Queensland design, blending traditional 19th century Belgian construction techniques with a quintessential Australian shearing shed aesthetic, The Augathella Spiegeltent is regarded as Australia’s first Spiegeltent of its kind.

 

Cr Shaun Radnedge, Mayor of Murweh Shire Council, enthusiastically endorsed the ambitious crowdfunding project.

 

“We are extremely proud to partner with Wynnum Fringe to revitalise and restore this great asset, to honour Queensland’s history and immortalise one of our great regional towns,” Cr Radnedge said.

 

Since its inception in 2020, Wynnum Fringe has grown to become one of Australia’s most vital annual festivals, employing more than 2,500 creative workers, championing local artists, welcoming over 100,000 visitors and injecting more than $3 million into the local economy.

 

“Wynnum Fringe has been creating shows and experiences in similar Spiegeltents for the past three years and now we have an opportunity to create an engine room of our own for Queensland-made product to get up and ready to tour the world,” Oliver said. “We invite crowdfund donors to come on this epic journey with us and be part of this history-making creative venture. Donations over $1,000 secure a name on the floorboards of The Augathella Spiegeltent, the literal foundation of the venue.

 

All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible and both corporations and community members are invited to support this vital initiative. For more information, visit www.augathellaspiegeltent.com 

Crowdfunding link - Australian Cultural Fund

 

 

HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?

 

“I remember thinking in 2021 ‘gosh we need a professional venue of our own out here (in Wynnum). Imagine if Wynnum became the ‘off-broadway' of Brisbane, and a Spiegeltent in suburbia created shows that then toured to London or New York. It could happen,” said Tom. 

 

In early 2023, Tom's parents were on a regional driving trip and stopped for lunch in Augathella, some 748 km’s west of Brisbane. There sat a seemingly abandoned Spiegeltent. It was the start of an idea.

In late 2023, Mayor Zorro, of Murweh Shire Council and Tom agreed that Wynnum Fringe would acquire this piece of history from the town, rename it ‘The Augathella’, and celebrate the regional QLD town wherever it plays in the world.

 

A brief overview of Wynnum Fringe momentum:

 

2020 - Tom Oliver’s international performing career comes to a halt as the pandemic hits.  He founded Wynnum Fringe in two months while freeloading in his parents' spare room in his home town of Wynnum. A three day Festival. 10,000 attendees.

 

2021 - The pandemic continues, Wynnum Fringe doubles in size and adds household names to their program of local artists. A seven day festival. 21,000 attendees.

 

2022 - Wynnum Fringe triples in size and co-produces a season of Velvet Rewired starring Marcia Hines in a Belgian Spiegeltent + other headline artists and local artists. A three week festival. 30,000 attendees.

 

2023 - Tom Oliver & Wynnum Fringe win Gold Matilda Award for outstanding contribution to Arts & Entertainment in Queensland. A three week festival. 36,000 attendees.

 

2024 - The economic crisis impacts the cost of living in Australia. 1,300 music venues close across the country. Festivals announce closure. Wynnum Fringe decides to bring a historic Spiegeltent back to life and plan for the future.

 

Images here

 

Media Contact:

Kath Rose

kath@kathrose.com or 0416 291 493

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