Sunday, 29 June 2008

Why the Yachtie must be preserved

Brinsmead resident Wendy Richardson has been a staunch supporter of preserving the Cairns Yacht Club building for many years.

She contested the State seat of Cairns in 2006 and the recent Council elections on the Tablelands, where she polled second, missing by only 18 votes. Wendy lives in Cairns and works throughout the Far North as a Private Speech Pathologist but also manages her property near Topaz, which features cattle breeding, a large rainforest nature refuge and a budding tourism venture.

As the Liberal candidate for Cairns in the last state election, I became involved in the bid to save this building in its current location.
Before committing myself I thoroughly researched the issue and visited the building for a close inspection and interpretation of the historical aspects of its architecture and usage. If I am pre-selected to stand next time, AND if the building is still there, I would continue to vigorously support it’s retention.
As Lawrence Springborg will confirm, the Coalition’s Shadow Cabinet agreed to fund the restoration and modernisation of the building in the lead-up to the 2006 election, if it could be retained. I have recently contacted Mark McArdle’s office (Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Parliamentary Leader) to request that he discuss this matter with Lawrence Springborg again and re-affirm their support.
A small group of people including, Ray Taylor, have valiantly continued the fight locally to have reason prevail on this topic; no mean feat given they have been calling for the building to be preserved for over 5 years now.
However, I am writing to assure you that in my many conversations with people in Far North Queensland, THEY ARE NOT A MINORITY GROUP.
This issue is about more than the building; it is also about the wishes of the Far North Queensland community being ignored.
Those people in authority, who have taken the position that the building is expendable, like to consider the objectors are just a small bunch of emotional old yachties. This is far from the truth.
Tourism operators, local residents young and old, and visitors to our region are all adamant they want it preserved and enhanced so that the links to our past are better known. In fact one remarkable conversation I had was with an English couple I met while holidaying in Tasmania.
They had visited the Cairns Yacht Club only weeks before, heard of its plight and were horrified that it could be moved or demolished. They wished me well in the fight to save it.
This is nothing unusual.
I would estimate I have had hundreds of conversations on this topic with almost everyone expressing the same sentiments. Most people are able to see the history in this, one of the oldest buildings in Cairns, re-built after a cyclone in 1920 by the actual hands of several of our first civic leaders, and the ongoing value it would have when brought up to modern day standards.
The few adverse comments I have had from members of the public, have been from people who did not know about the building. Once its history and current use have been explained, together with the vast improvement that restoration and curating of items of interest would make, they almost always change their minds.
There is an abundance of information on the topic, too much to include here, but I would be only too happy to share this with you if that would be helpful.
In closing, I can say nothing more eloquently than Ray Taylor's own comment below, extracted from his letter to the head of the Queensland Heritage Council in 2004.
..... the Cairns Yacht Club provides an insight into the Australian pioneering spirit. It is an example of how people, having gained a toe hold on what was then a remote, difficult and hostile environment, addressed and sustained the social and sporting needs of a fledgling township.

The Cairns Yacht Club is a historic yardstick that shows the effects of worldly, economic and climatic events over the last century when viewed through its sporting and social activities, starting from the earliest days of Cairns to the present day.

It is a historical local link that enables one to trace the source of that unique Australian attitude to sport and fair play that is recognised throughout the world, and in this lies its significance, not only to Queensland but to the nation as a whole.

I urge you to lend your support in whatever way you can, to reversing the plan to remove this building from its location, or worse still its demolition.
Once gone it will be too late to re-consider or regret the mistake.
It’s still where it belongs – just. I ask for your help.

4 comments:

Sandie said...

I agree with you fully on this subject & also have many friends who do not wish to see this beautiful old building pulled down. 100 to 1 says that IF they do pull it down which many are also gleefully predicting, are there any plans as to what will be done with the tiny parcel of land?
Will it like so many other eye sores we've had then stay vacant for years whilst the greedy ones argue over who's going to what to make more money for themselves & their cronies.
We all know that is the only factor driving the "Sell it off" sector of the State government.
When the Yacht Club & directors all move to their new state of the art money spinner why can't we still have a pub with a beautiful view & great reasonably priced restaurant in the building? Then we can continue to show our visitors what Cairns used to be like?
What can we do to try yet again to save the place??

Thersites said...

Well done Wendy!

The Yacht Club page on your old State election political website was some of the best web info available on the building. From a google search I gather this has now gone to cyber heaven? Maybe this could be rejuvenated somewhere?

I still find it amazing how blinkered some people can be on the merits of the building and why such stubborn determination to get rid of it. It could be a brilliant icon for Cairns if refurbished.

Are memories so short that people don't recall the Sydney 2000 Olympic opening with the stadium filled with waving galvanised iron as a symbol of our frontier development and architecture?

The conflicts here are interesting particularly as I believe the 'independent' feasibility study on the new development in the marina was done by Chris White at KPMG who had an interest as a participant at the time via his involvement with another aquatric club, and was also a good mate of the then Port Authority boss Brad Geatches.

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for Wendy!!!

Anonymous said...

I remember the boat ramp just up from the Yacht Club tourists use to stand there and watch locals launch their boats, lets not see the Yacht Club knocked down like everthing else in this town. Who needs another wing tacked onto a hotel let the yacht club live.
Richard Gibbins