Timber industry revival in WA

A tiny wheatbelt town has received the keys to the biggest civic timber construction in Western Australia in nearly 80 years, as the state's timber industry shows signs of revival. The Shire of Pingelly decided to build its new Recreation and Cultural Centre entirely out of timber — and the result is without a modern-day rival. Not since the Merredin aircraft hangars of World War II has any public organisation built with timber on such a large scale.

Shire of Pingelly President Bill Mulroney said cost estimates for the timber design of the new building came in around the same as brickwork. "We decided we would have something really good, and we went for timber … the timber will make it a longer life and make it better looking than bricks and mortar, which can age over years," he said.

The shire built its new recreation and cultural centre in just over a year, at a total cost of $9.1 million. 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.

"When you see so much timber in this building, it provides a very calming sort of feel, a very warm and homely atmosphere," Sime director Stephen Sime said. The new facility will be used primarily to host a range of local sporting and social activities.

Before the Pingelly facility was built, a shire delegation travelled to Melbourne to inspect first hand some of the high-profile timber constructions on the east coast. The shire says its new social hub will be 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.

But 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. Developer ADC said the 10-storey, 126-room hotel would be the tallest timber hotel in Australia, and is proposed to use locally-sourced timber.

Source: ABC Great Southern

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