Martindale Hall was gifted to the South Australian government by its former owner, the 1880s building near Mintaro remains open to the public, but at a financial impost to the government.
“The current arrangement was that we were basically subsidising a private business to the tune of $100,000 dollars a year,” Craig Nixon from the Environment, Water and Natural Resources Department told the ABC North and West Mornings program.
After the tourism lease for Martindale Hall ended last week, a caretaker has been appointed to continue operating the hall as a museum.
“We’ve been able to finalise some caretakers to manage Martindale Hall for at least the short-term,” Mr Nixon said.
“We had hoped to get a sustainable business model, which we could continue to run for some years through that process but unfortunately we were not able to.”
He revealed the current owners of the Mintaro Maze attraction, Sharon and Michael Morris, would take on the caretaker responsibility while the government considered options for the building’s future.
“We’re intending to use this caretaker arrangement for the next year or so,” Mr Nixon said.
“In the long term we need to find a more equitable and fairer arrangement that isn’t quite such a burden on the taxpayer, but continues to have the hall open to the public.”
He said the use of Martindale Hall for accommodation had put a strain of the building’s services, and removing overnight stays should help reduce maintenance costs.
“An old building always requires a fair bit of maintenance…and the house is full of antique furniture that was never designed to have a constant stream of people through them.”
National Trust spokesperson Darren Peacock recently told the South Australian 7:30 program he was fearful the hall might fall into private hands.
“Everyone knows Martindale Hall. It’s one of those iconic places and I think people would be horrified to think that it’s no longer going to be available to the public to access.”
Mr Nixon said rumours that there were plans to sell Martindale Hall were untrue, but he did not rule it out as a future possibility.
“There’s no decision to sell Martindale at this time,” he said.
“It would have to be an option for government to consider if it was an arrangement that would continue to have the place open to the public as a viable business.
“It would have to have a lot of caveats around it, I would think, for that to happen.”
Clare and Gilbert Valley councillor Ned Golding told ABC News he was worried the property could be sold to pay off State Government debt.
“The community want to know which way we’re going forward,” he said.
“It’s a little bit scary not knowing it – it looks like there isn’t a plan. Without a plan it just puts uncertainty within our community.”
First seen on www.abc.net.au