27 October 2009

Save our... something, someday

| moneypenny2612
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Last weekend, the National Trust announced this year’s nominations for Our Heritage at Risk. It’s an annual ‘name and shame’ exercise to raise awareness about Australian places, objects and collections that it considers historically significant but urgently in need of conservation.

This year’s ACT nomination was led by the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore (also shortlisted last year). The Trust noted with particular alarm the proposed Immigration footbridge and the Kingston/Eastlake development, and indicated concern about the creeping privatisation of the open public spaces and vistas on the shore line, contrary to Walter Burley Griffin’s original plan. (Last year, the Trust complained about the construction of the car park off Commonwealth Ave.)

Sometimes it is easy to dismiss the National Trust as a bunch of NIMBYs and nostalgic busy bodies. Plus whatever you think about the heritage value of each nomination, the Trust has a pretty low success rate with shaming people into action. Previous ACT nominees have been substantially demolished, redeveloped beyond recognition, or merely neglected. The Yarralumla Brickworks is an example of the latter. The brickworks was has been on the risk list for the last three years (ranks with SA’s Coorong wetlands for dishonorable mentions).

Does heritage risk nomination suitably ‘name and shame’ into action the people who matter? Not really. We seem to approach heritage conservation with the same sense of urgency and purpose as climate change…

The 2008 citation for the brickworks was acknowledged by the ACT Government, which was in the midst of an request for proposals to restore and re-use the site. Much like previous years. A couple of months ago that approach to market was cancelled.

So the brickworks (among others) continue to rot. The next steps are not clear. There’s always another at-risk nomination to strive for next year.

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Weston Park, train included, might not seem that “culturally” significant – but in terms of the number of kids who have played there as they grew up over the years, it would seem part of Canberra’s heritage to me.

Probably not arty farty or culturally diverse enough though.

barking toad1:17 pm 27 Oct 09

I would have liked to nominate other cultural heritage sites in Phillip (that’s next to Woden for those on the dark side).

Places like the Elbow Room, Clean Living Clive’s, the Texas Tavern/Henry Gratten/O’Shea’s.

Sadly, all gone.

Why, oh why, don’t we protect our heritage?

I think they have let it deteriorate beyond repair. (Or they say they have.)

It is such a pity about the brickworks.

I am also sad about Canberry Fair (corner of Watson on the Federal Hwy). It had gorgeous old buildings and some nice green spaces, and would be a lovely tourist spot for inner north dwellers. all it needs is a few cafes, a pub and some trinket shops. Much nicer than Gold Greek, which attracts zillions of people. yet it is going to be yet more units.

don’t they ever wonder what all these people in wall-to-wall units are going to do with themselves, once all available space has been coverted into units?

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