Fiona Gardiner: it’s your birthday!

Saturday 8 November 2003

Which prompts me to scan and share this newspaper clipping from The Australian of 15 November 1974. On the left is a story about a campaign by Fiona Gardiner and Helen Wilson to con­serve the works of the South Brisbane Gas Co. On the right is a piece about the area that would later become Cooloola National Park.

Back then Jo Bjelke-Petersen was the staunchly pro-devel­op­ment Premier of Queensland. Gough Whitlam was the Prime Minister and the National Estate Inquiry had recently reported. The Australian Heritage Commission Act was still in the future. To suggest conserving a gas works was the business of ratbags.

Now it’s become — like us perhaps — respectable, sort of.

Newspaper clipping

Here’s the text of the gasworks piece:

$1.5m gasworks dream: Girls plan novel museum

Queensland University architecture students, Helen Wilson, 20, and Fiona Gardiner, 21, aren’t asking for much at Christ­mas — just $1.5 million to convert an old gas works into Australia’s biggest industrial museum.

But they would settle initially for $430,000 to buy the South Brisbane Gasworks from a developer who intends to demolish the buildings at Christ­mas and replace them with warehouses.


And the prospect of raising the finance doesn’t daunt them at all.

“It’s not really a lot of money, not these days,” said Helen Wilson.

The gasworks, on the banks of the Brisbane River, comprise twin 24m (80 feet) high buildings. They were shut down in 1969.

Helen and Fiona became interested in the works as a third-year project this year, but now confess its value to their career is a poor second to their campaign to save the building.

“People don’t see the beauty in these buildings, but they would if they saw the huge spaces they create,” Fiona said.

[picture caption: Helen Wilson, 20 (left) and Fiona Gardiner, 21, in front of their $1.5 million crumbling dream.]

filed under Conservation + Ratbags

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