Sunday 26 October 2008

Cairns cultural heritage defended

Jonathan Strauss of the Green Left Weekly writes about those who have stepped up their blockade actions over recent weeks to stop the demolition of the Cairns Yacht Club building and its removal from the Trinity waterfront.

Several activists have been arrested after scaling ladders to sit on the building’s roof or while blocking truck movements. Those arrested include Wendy Davie, Bryan Law and Terry Spackman, and Cairns councillor Di Forsyth.

The campaign against the demolition has registered massive local support. After a large organising meeting in early August a petition with 11,000 signatures was collected. Two rallies, each attracting more than 100 people, have also been held. A motion put to the Cairns Regional Council by Forsyth opposing the demolition was successful.

The building is one of the few remaining older buildings in the city centre. It is an outstanding example of the city’s heritage.

The building, with its renowned sprung floor, has been an important meeting place and dance hall for many decades. The Yacht Club’s wharves served as the docks for much of the local boating traffic, including the former ferry serving the Indigenous Yarrabah community.

Local activists have previously sought heritage listing for the building, only to have these efforts stymied by state governments and the former local council. They propose the building be the site of a heritage museum.

However, the Cairns Port Authority, which owns the site and has the support of the state government, has been determined to get rid of the building and replace it with a high-rise hotel or apartment development largely inaccessible to the public.

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