Preserve Hannan Street

Published on Friday, 25 February 2022 at 3:08:58 PM

Goldfielders are fiercely proud of where they come from and the attachment they have to Kalgoorlie and Boulder.

I say it that way, Kalgoorlie and Boulder, rather than Kalgoorlie-Boulder, because that love and patriotism is usually reserved for what part of the City they come from, though in my aunty Grace’s case it was neither, it was South Boulder.

Recently I have been thinking of what really defines our City and what evokes such loyalty and patriotism and I’m of the view that other than our personal memories the image most of us would have of our hometown would be Burt Street or Hannan Street.

Esperance has its bay and beaches; we have our very special streetscapes and when visitors come for the first time they are struck by the Victorian architecture and relatively high level of preservation of our two CBDs. Tourists are always impressed and I recall a former Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre manager says it’s not the two-up or the brothels or the Super Pit that stops the traveller but Hannan Street.

They are immediately charmed by what they see.

The trouble is that maintaining buildings that are now more than a century old is an expensive job.

As former councillor and Burt Street businessman Laurie Ayres often says: “Many of our old buildings are facing demolition by neglect.”

Current councillor Mick McKay was irate to the point of protest when the old Druids building in Burt Street was demolished and in hindsight it looks terrible and the thought of similar vacant blocks in the middle of Hannan Street leave me cold.

Burt Street got a fantastic facelift to the verandahs and façades a decade ago after the Boulder earthquake. I don’t want to risk another earthquake to get Hannan Street fixed up in a similar way but what I do want is many millions of dollars because that is what it will cost.

In the first instance owners should do up their buildings but when shops are not returning much profit it is hard to demand that at least the front of the building be restored.

The last time Boulder got funds from Royalties for Regions and the City and those should once again be two of the funding sources.

But if the Esperance foreshore – which I’ve said defines Esperance – can get federal funding, then why can’t the restoration and preservation of Hannan Street get the same?

I’ve already sounded out the State member for Kalgoorlie, Ali Kent about her next big election promise (albeit three years away) and will do the same with our Canberra representative Rick Wilson, to make such a project a priority.

Your Councillors will need to give serious thought to such an ambitious program of work because once it starts it will never end because our heritage buildings hopefully will never end.

I for one think it will be worthwhile.

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