Old Dubbo Gaol Public Heritage Plaza



Development of a new public plaza in front of the State Heritage listed Old Dubbo Gaol located in the heart of Dubbo’s Central Business District, comprising:

  • Landscaping and artworks that recreate and interpret former historic structures which occupied the site, including the watchtower and judge’s bench/seating,
  • A skeletal steel and timber shade ‘ghost building’ structure – signifying the form, location and materials of the original 1847 timber slab courthouse and lockup
  • Kinetic Artwork Screen projecting images onto the façade of the Telstra Telephone Exchange that forms the southern side of the plaza.

The plaza will open up clear views of the Gaol’s gatehouse entrance and Gaol wall as well as the ornate Post Office colonnade and its iconic clock tower, creating a civic space in Dubbo’s justice precinct. The construction of tourism infrastructure will deliver economic growth and productivity for both the Dubbo Region with flow-on effects across the NSW economy.

The preparation in project planning for the Old Dubbo Gaol Heritage Plaza has commenced and includes completion of a project plan mapping session with internal and heritage planning stakeholders along with the completion of a detailed project scope document. Stakeholder Engagement completed for the Heritage Plaza includes but is not exclusive to the following:

  • Internal Stakeholder engagement meetings
  • Meeting with owner and team at The Exchange
  • Contact with Telstra’s Head of Rural & Regional Affairs
  • Meeting with Councils Heritage Advisor to discuss preliminary plans and idea

 A $5,010,000 investment will see the reclamation and development of a public heritage plaza at Old Dubbo Gaol, Dubbo’s second most popular attraction.

Status: Consultation / Design

Funding: NSW Government - Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund

Timeline: The Destination Dubbo project aligns with the requirements of the NSW Restart Fund and, in turn, the Regional Growth: Environment and Tourism Fund timelines. Estimated delivery date will be mid 2022

Contractor: TBA

Plans: In development 

Project Update: Extensive community consultation on detailed draft concept designs of the Heritage Plaza was undertaken over a five week period to ensure thorough feedback was received from all facets of community.
Public Exhibition and community engagement has been inclusive of but not exclusive to the following activities; meetings with the Police regarding safer by design concepts, invitation sent to 200 CBD businesses to attend exclusive information evening, one-on-one interviews held with 35 business owners surrounding the precinct, hosted public exhibition event at Old Dubbo Gaol for CBD businesses, presentation to the Dubbo Accommodation Network Group, presentation at a Council Workshop, along with 30 days of website displays and social media posts.
Extensive feedback was received from business owners, CBD business employees, community members, market stall holders, performers, event industry representatives, Council representatives and heritage experts.

Strong themes and examples of the extensive feedback received is inclusive of but not exclusive to the following:
• Creates visual interest – variety of textures, finishes and colours.
• Lighting – modern, softer lighting will encourage visitation at night, Catenary lighting.
• Art wall – Love that art is featured.
• Cubes on footpath – modern look that helps define the Plaza precinct.
• Shade structure – Fantastic concept that makes the space feel innovative and light.
• Activation – Incorporation of area for bands etc. Art installation. Night activation. All positive.
• Seating design: proposed curvilinear lines to help draw the eye.
• Heat –Large expanse of unshaded dark pavers to north and east may act as a heat sink.
• Drought Proof - Water Sensitive Urban Design element that harvests, stores, and reuses stormwater.
• Smart features, Sensors record the temperature within the plaza, track numbers, free WIFI, smart bins, bike racks.
• Plants and Vegetation, local native species of plants, would add character and cultural significance.
• Water fill points / bubblers need to be provided
• Cultural Elements
• Safer by Design
• Accessible Access
• Vandalism proof

Close to 70 individual responses to the public exhibition of the Heritage Plaza have been received. Feedback from the Community has been largely complimentary, constructive and insightful. There has been a repeated concern regarding the starling’s impact on the plaza, security for the precinct at night and potential vandalism of the public space.
All concerns and highlighted issues will inform the final design and development of the Heritage Plaza.

Concept 1a     Concept 2    Concept 3    Concept 4

Kinetic Artwork

Project Update: Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi (Sunshine Coast) Wiradjuri (NSW) woman, Dr Bianca Beetson has been named as the winner of Dubbo Regional Council’s (DRC’s) Kinetic Art competition – a nationwide search to find an Indigenous artist with a strong connection to the Wiradjuri nation to design one of the largest public art piece in regional New South Wales. Dr Beetson is a visual artist who works in a diverse range of media including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and public art.

Bianca Beetson

It was a tough judging process, with outstanding candidates. The judging panel was made up of:

• Wiradjuri Technical Advisory Panel/Dubbo Aboriginal Community Working Party
• Department of Premier and Cabinet/Department of Regional NSW
• Dubbo Regional Council - Councillor/Mayor
• Indigenous Curator – Art Gallery of NSW
• Telstra, Senior Specialist, Indigenous Affairs, Sustainability, External Affairs and Legal (SEAL)
• Cultural Development Coordinator, Regional Experiences - Dubbo Regional Council
• Curator of Public Art – City of Sydney or member of the City of Sydney Public Art Advisory Panel

Project timelines are aiming for fabrication to begin May 2021 and installation by February 2022.

All artists were required to adhere to a theme of community, country, connection: finding common ground, and through her winning concept, Dr Beetson says she contemplated the process of asking permission to enter Country. Her proposed work uses imagery expressive of Country, cultural knowledge and communities. The unique design was developed through Cyanotyping, a process using sun – the giver of life – to develop the image. Using kangaroo grass seeds, which are native seeds that grow along the three Dubbo rivers, Dr Beetson created a pattern representative of a river.

Bianca Beetson concept Bianca Beetson concept 2

Additional activities completed for the Heritage Plaza includes but is not exclusive to the following:
• An internal Heritage Plaza project control group has been developed to collaborate in the multifaceted project management of the site.
• Introduction to UAP Principal/Head of Design - Daniel Clifford.
• Weekly project planning meeting with UAP regarding Public Artwork and prize.
• Tender process for graphic artists and architect for Heritage Plaza concept constructions.
• Solicited Crime Prevention by Environmental Design assessment by NSW Police on the draft concept.
• Budget review of Delivery Program and Operational Plan.
• Settlement on purchase of 92 Macquarie Street. Exchange of property is planned for 1 July 2021.
• Planning currently underway for DA process of demolition to open the plaza space.
• Lease agreement development with Telstra regarding building and wall.
• Lighting Infrastructure Master Plan meeting to align project plans.
• Soil Survey investigations ongoing regarding footings and foundation for the kinetic artwork.


Fly through 3D concept:


Media releases (most recent at the top)

Dr Bianca Beetson wins kinetic art competition

Top three kinetic art finalists revealed

Local artists invited to attend Kinetic Art competition workshop.

Nation-wide Indigenous art competition launched in Dubbo.

Dubbo one step closer to becoming 'International Ready'

Last Edited: 19 Aug 2021

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