PINGELLY RECREATION AND CULTURAL CENTRE
The timber industry is showing signs of revival and the remarkable Pingelly Recreation and Cultural Centre is one example of this. The tiny wheatbelt town of Pingelly is now home to WA’s largest civic timber construction in nearly 80 years.
(Images provided by Peter Gunson)
The Shire built its new recreation and cultural centre in just over a year, at a total cost of $9.1 million, with the aim to produce a high-class facility, alike to those in large cities, enticing surrounding neighbours to come and use the facility. The initial cost estimates for the timber design of the new building came in around the same as brickwork and as timber would result in a much more striking end product, aging better over time, it was decided to use timber for construction. Before embarking on the project, the Shire investigated timber projects in Canada and Scandanavia as well as sending a delegation to Melbourne to view other high-profile timber constructions.
One thousand tonnes of yellow stringy bark, sourced from a plantation near Manjimup, created the walls, floor and decking, with the structural timber imported from New Zealand and constructed by Sime Building and Construction.
The Pingelly Recreation and Cultural Centre is being used by the WA Forest Communities Network, a timber industry group, as an example to encourage other local governments in WA to build with wood. However, it is not just the public sector showing interest in timber in WA. The construction of a $25 million timber-framed hotel is expected to begin in Northbridge next-year. It will consist of 10 storeys and aims to use locally sourced timber.
A PUSH FOR TIMBER
Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said that as new timber construction projects were approved in the state, the WA government would help to ensure suppliers in regional WA were able to benefit. This aligns with the push globally to use timber in medium to high-rise buildings.
The endorsement of timber can also be seen through the production of wood encouragement policies. To encourage the use of natural, timber-based products in construction, the Forest Industries Federation (WA) has joint with several WA councils to develop wood encouragement policies. Included councils are Boyup Brook, Dardanup, Fremantle, Manjimup and Nannup. Adoption of similar policies in Australia and around the world is growing steadily with Tasmania the first Australian state to adopt a state-wide wood encouragement policy.
With this increased use of timber, resource security is becoming important to ensure the industry is maintained. It is encouraging to see the Federal Government announce the National Forest Industries Plan to address this issue. Getting more of the right species of trees in the ground, in the right location and at the correct scale, is fundamental for the WA timber industry.
THE NANNUP TIMBER MILL
The Nannup timber mill in the state’s south west is trying to get back on its feet after reopening in May this year, following consolidation with competitor Auswest. The commercial arrangement is aimed at ensuring innovation and better penetration into the market. The Nannup mill provides mostly sawn jarrah to domestic and overseas markets, to be used as decking and flooring but plans to grow by supplying the demand for niche, decorative timbers, including exterior surface timbers.
Employing a staff of 42 in a town of only 1,328 people the mill is an example of the benefits the timber industry can have on the local economy.