REAL AUSTRALIA

The Voice of Real Australia: It was a bloody eyesore but I'm sad now it's gone

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by the Burnie-based Lachlan Bennett.

FAREWELL: Seth, 7, and Zara Hawkins, 9, of Devonport and Charlotte Richards, 4, of Sunnyside wave goodbye to the iconic Burnie portainer crane. Picture: Brodie Weeding

FAREWELL: Seth, 7, and Zara Hawkins, 9, of Devonport and Charlotte Richards, 4, of Sunnyside wave goodbye to the iconic Burnie portainer crane. Picture: Brodie Weeding

It only took 12 seconds for my town to be changed forever.

In that fleeting moment, a 90 metre portainer crane that had dominated the Burnie skyline for 25 years crashed down onto the docks.

Hundreds of Tasmanians gathered to farewell this 680 tonne beast but not just to witness the carnage of a planned demolition.

Those who don't live in Burnie may not understand why anyone would mourn the loss of an unused, utilitarian contraption that affronts the beauty of our coastline.

But they probably didn't see 'The Emu' dazzle with fairy lights during Christmas or feel reassured to see it still standing guard despite all the changes in our world.

So even though that crane was a bloody eyesore, I'm sad now that it's gone.

Many experienced a similar rush of nostalgia when they tore down an industrial landmark synonymous with Burnie: the APPM pulp mill.

And while I'm delighted that land has been used for two noble enterprises (a Bunnings Warehouse and a distillery with the largest collection of whiskies in the southern hemisphere) it's hard to forget the casualities in the march towards progress.

Communities like Burnie are losing the pantheons of their industrial heritage: the factories that made us and the raw jobs that made the beer taste sweeter.

They're swept away for new opportunities in industries such as tourism, urban renewal projects with more vibrant public spaces and a cleaner, greener community.

And while these rustbelt transitions are a positive path forward, I cannot help lament what is lost in the process.

ICONIC: The crane was an imposing part of the Burnie skyline for 25 years. Picture: Supplied

ICONIC: The crane was an imposing part of the Burnie skyline for 25 years. Picture: Supplied

Part of me wishes they could have kept that crane in Burnie, perhaps re-purposing it as a permanent light installation, an Airbnb for thrill seekers or a diabolical jungle gym.

These are ludicrous suggestions, but there are plenty of practical examples of historical architecture gaining a new lease on life.

And towns can embrace the future while staying true to their industrious roots. Just look at Wodonga, which will be home to a new factory producing meat-free burgers for Hungry Jacks.

Change is a relentless force and communities must either adapt or die.

But before we destroy the old for new, let's at least take a moment to say goodbye to our old industrial friends.

GONE: Burnie's iconic portainer crane was demolished last month after staning guard for 25 years. Picture: Brodie Weeding

GONE: Burnie's iconic portainer crane was demolished last month after staning guard for 25 years. Picture: Brodie Weeding

Lachlan Bennett, journalist at The Advocate

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