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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Trade
Federal Member for Lyne
The Hon. Mark Vaile MP
27 October 2003
One of Australia's oldest churches will continue to be a major landmark in Port Macquarie's townscape thanks to restoration works undertaken with the support of the Federal Government.
Inspecting progress of the works today, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said the restoration of the heritage-listed St Thomas Anglican Church was an important step in ensuring the church would remain for future generations of Australians.
The Federal Government has contributed more than $120,000 in recent years towards work at the church, this year contributing $76,871 from its Cultural Heritage Projects program, which is helping to fund damp proofing, brick work and other repairs. The restoration project is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
"St Thomas' was built by convict labour with the foundation stone being laid in 1824 and more than 365,000 hand-made bricks being used to form the walls," Dr Kemp said.
"It houses many unique and valuable fittings including cedar Victorian Box pews, a three metre high cedar pulpit and an 1856 Walker pipe and barrel organ which I understand is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere."
Dr Kemp said the church had many layers of significance across the community, the State and Australia. Because of its historical significance, St Thomas' church is listed on the Register of National Estate.
"There is no doubt that this church, overlooking the town, river and coastline, is one of the most important features of Port Macquarie's built history and has enormous significance to the local community," Federal Member for Lyne, Mark Vaile, said.
"It also has significance to NSW as one of the early buildings erected in the oldest penal settlement outside of Sydney, older even than that of Port Arthur in Tasmania, and played a key role in the establishment of the Anglican Church in NSW.
"From an Australian perspective, it has some importance as one of the few remaining early colonial churches."
Dr Kemp said the St Thomas restoration project was an excellent example of heritage protection through cooperation of parties from Federal, State and community levels.
Dr Kemp also commended the Hastings Council for its support in making this important joint project possible.