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Tech & Science Flying cars: Some that left the ground and many that did not

04:15  14 october  2019
04:15  14 october  2019 Source:   msn.com

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a group of people crossing a street in front of a building: The Hunters Hotel in Tasmania has seen better days. (ABC Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation The Hunters Hotel in Tasmania has seen better days. (ABC Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)

In the heart of Queenstown on Tasmania's remote west coast stands a forest green hotel, framed with gold trimmings and a grand wooden balcony that overlooks the township.

The Hunters Hotel has a historic past, with its balcony serving as a stage for many speeches throughout its life.

In the early 1900s, workers' rights advocate and Labor MP King O'Malley spoke from the balcony to the people in the street below.

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A look at some of the attempts at the vehicles that can soar over traffic.

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Then in 1912, amidst the tragedy of the North Lyell mine fire where 42 men lost their lives, the community was given updates from the balcony.

But now this piece of history is facing the possibility of destruction.

The West Coast Council has issued an emergency order for the owners to dismantle the sagging balcony due to safety concerns.

West Coast Mayor, Phil Vickers said the owners have 28 days to make a decision.

"It's a private property that has a verandah that is built over the top of a council footpath," he said.

"It's heritage-listed and we've had an engineers report that demonstrates that it needs to be either re-engineered and fixed up or dismantled."

The owners and concerned members of the community are desperately trying to save the balcony.

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One resident has started a crowdfunding page, but only $1,800 of the required $35,000 has been raised so far.

Hotel owner Ralph Wildenauer said he was planning to fix the balcony next year after the rest of the hotel had been opened for business to raise the necessary funds.

"I was doing most of the work and last year I had a major stroke, so I'm not able to do work anymore and it means we have to employ people to finish everything off, which is very expensive," Mr Wildenauer said.

"I know the balcony inside and out, it's not going to fall, I'll jump up and down on it all day long."

Heritage sites held together with 'sticky tape and glue'

Tasmania has the highest concentration of heritage sites of anywhere in Australia.

"Anyone that owns a heritage site knows that you just keep throwing buckets of money at it and that's just the nature of the beast," Matthew Smithies of the National Trust said.

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In Tasmania, the National Trust has eight sites ranging from Home Hill, the family home of former Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, to Hobart's Convict Penitentiary.

However, the cost to maintain and preserve these heritage assets is huge.

Mr Smithies said the National Trust has a bit of a legacy at the moment of maintenance and conservation works that are well overdue.

"We've got about $3.5 million worth of conservation works that we need to carry out immediately, and raising that funding is difficult," he said.

Clarendon House, in the north of the state, is in desperate need of maintenance and restoration — some of the building's walls being reduced to rubble, issues with the staircase that is no longer straight and a basement that is cracked from a flood that occurred five years ago.

"From an engineers report that we've received, we're actually going to lose the front face of Clarendon in the not-too-distant future," Mr Smithies said.

"At this stage, we haven't lost any heritage assets, we're holding them together with sticky tape and glue at the moment."

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The Tasmanian Branch of the National Trust has found its priority list is constantly changing due to the rapid rate their heritage sites have been deteriorating.

Last year, the Launceston City Council told them to close the Franklin House site to the public due to safety issues with a wall.

"The convict-built, brick boundary wall at Franklin House was at the brink of toppling over, causing a lot of occupational health and safety concerns as it was a boundary wall with our neighbours and at the eleventh hour we did manage to get some funding from both Launceston Council and the State Government," Mr Smithies said.

To minimise the loss of heritage during the wall dismantlement, each brick was numbered, catalogued and photographed as it was removed.

Contemporary foundations were then laid before the wall was rebuilt, with each brick placed in its original spot.

'Mould everywhere, mushrooms growing on the floors'

The owners of the Hunters Hotel have faced the same problem when it came to the maintenance and preservation of their heritage-listed building.

Mr Wildenauer and his wife took over the hotel more than two years ago, but before that, it had been abandoned for almost 20 years.

"You know, twenty years of leaking roofs and missing windows, there was mould growing everywhere, there were mushrooms growing on the floors, it was really, really bad," he said.

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"If we hadn't started working on it, by now huge sections would have collapsed, you know ceilings would have come down, roofs would have come down."

Mr Wildenauer believes if he had used professionals to work on the structure, it would have cost close to $1 million.

He tried to obtain multiple grants to help fund the needed work restorations but has been unsuccessful so far.

Cr Vickers said that small councils could not afford to help everyone, especially when the building is private property.

"It's a historic building and we have lots of historic buildings that are in private ownership within our district, we can't help everyone," he said.

But the National Trust said it was a challenge for people who were custodians of heritage in both the private and public sectors.

"There is a bigger discussion that needs to be had around how we can keep our heritage assets standing," Mr Smithies said.

What's worth saving?

Due to limited funding, maintainers of heritage sites within the state have to decide which assets should be maintained.

Mr Smithies said it was hard to put a price on heritage.

"It's what makes towns and cities and villages different from one another," he said.

"I'm from Sydney, so the greater western suburbs, where they've just built these matchbox houses side by side, they're absolutely soulless and I don't think people particularly want to live like that."

Those within heritage management asses value by looking at what stories are linked to the asset.

Mr Smithies said there were some wonderful collections at the National Trust that would fetch a high price at auction, with some even gaining international interest.

But his favourite heritage asset is a 120-year-old kerosene tin that he believes is worth about 50 cents.

"Someone's cut the front out and put a candle in … it comes from a farm of a well-known agricultural family and it was the kerosene tin that they used to go down to the dairy when there was calving," he said.

"How do you measure significance? Is it the stories behind it or is it the bean counter? What is its commercial value?"

For Mr Wildenauer, although the Hunters Hotel is expensive to maintain, its history is priceless.

"Once that balcony is gone, it will be gone forever, the history will be gone with it," he said.

"OK, they might have saved a few beams and a few bits and pieces, but it's not going to be the same balcony if they rebuild it and the cost of rebuilding is going to be way, way more than the cost of repairing it.

"It's not always a viable thing to restore these buildings, but to let them collapse is even worse."

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