Heritage listing for Hotel Australasia

A piece of Eden’s history will be preserved, after Bega Valley Shire councillors voted 6-2 in favour of a motion to heritage list the iconic Hotel Australasia at a council meeting on Wednesday.

On a busy day at Council, Cr Ann Mawhinney proposed not to list the hotel, telling the meeting that the only certain elements of the site are worthy of heritage listing, and that the building “does not fit with the future aesthetics of Eden”.

Despite support from Cr Kristy McBain, the motion was lost, and Cr Sharon Tapscott foreshadowed that the building be heritage listed; a motion that was eventually passed 6-2 in the absence of Cr Mike Britten.

Cr Tapscott said she was pleased with the outcome, and admitted she was surprised that a motion against the listing was proposed.

“I was a bit amazed that we were even debating the issue,” she said on Thursday morning.

“I don’t know if there’s a push coming from Eden to have it (the hotel) demolished, but they’re certainly not exposing themselves, whoever is behind it.

“The building is very distinctive of its time and is involved in the town’s maritime history.

“I’ve just come from Broken Hill where I’ve seen a lot of buildings of the same type, and they’ve got that iconic look about them whether they were built in a fishing town or elsewhere.”

The hotel will now be included in Schedule 5 of the Comprehensive Local Environment Plan 2013 as a heritage item.

Cr Mawhinney said on Thursday morning that she was disappointed at what she saw as a move away from the planned future direction of Eden.

“It doesn’t comply with the development control plan adopted in 2007, where Eden’s vision was clearly articulated,” she said.

“That vision was a move towards a more contemporary look for the town.

“I understand that it’s an important issue for people in Eden, but there was a 20-year plan decided upon nearly 10 years ago, and it doesn’t comply.”

Eden designer and builder Peter Whiter made the trip to Bega and was in the gallery for Wednesday’s meeting.

He said he is “very happy” with Council’s decision, and said the listing does not spell the end for development on the site.

“When anything is proposed in terms of development, you look at the heritage listing and see what is described,” he said.

“If the listing goes on to describe the rooms upstairs or what’s behind the façade (from the 1960s retrofit), then those are things that the developer would have to pay respect to and address in any plans.

“But it doesn’t mean that everything on the site is untouchable.

“If it doesn’t refer to a 1972 Toyota Landcruiser parked out the back, or if it does refer to it and says it’s not something that’s significant, then it’s not something the developer needs to be concerned about.”

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