Adaptive Reuse: Using Australia’s Past to Better the Future

7 February, 2024

Port Arthur is one of Australia’s most significant heritage convict sites and one of the state’s most visited tourist destinations. Located almost 100 kilometres from the nearest city, Hobart, the site’s activities have always had a significant impact on the fortunes of the nearby towns, so when Hansen Yuncken tendered for the conservation project contract in 2014, the potential for investment in local communities and businesses was immediately on the company’s radar.

“Port Arthur was a terrific project. We really tried to provide as much opportunity as we could for local people. The Tasman Peninsula rarely has major construction projects, so we need to make the most of it and provide opportunities for the people and businesses in the area.”

— Bruce Maher, Former Tasmanian State Manager

‘Port Arthur has a small-town feel and most people have a sense of ownership over the Port Arthur ruins. On the Port Arthur Penitentiary and Bakehouse Conservation Project, we engaged the local community wherever possible, knowing that the Peninsula and particularly the area around Port Arthur, Nubeena White Beach, has had some rough times in recent history.

There were plenty of things we could do to work with the community. We targeted local employees, used local contractors, purchased materials from the local hardware store, sourced road base materials from the local quarry, and so on. At the end of the project we also gave back to the community wherever we could.

During the tender period we sought to support local subcontractors and suppliers by seeking tender prices and by meeting with locals and discussing the prospect of the works on the project. Once we were awarded the contract as managing contractor for the project, we intentionally employed local employees to undertake trade works.

Throughout the process of works we created relationships through subletting and employing the services of hydraulic, timber machining works, electrical trade, transport/courier, sewer pumping services and civil contract works within the local community contractors. We also employed five local carpenters and labourers, of different ages, throughout the duration of works. The new employees included one man in his mid-20s who had never had a tax file number before this employment. Another has been offered full-time work with Hansen Yuncken into the future.

On completion, we donated materials to the community. Waste earth spoil, excavated fill and road base materials no longer needed on site were donated to nearby farmlands for use as clean fill or road base. Some of the original celery top pine timber and steel walkways that were dismantled and removed from the ruin site were recycled into the community – celery top pine was donated to schools for arts and craft, and site manager Scott Coombs used some to trim a newly built skiff! Even more materials were stored for recycling at a later time.’

— Julian Proud, Construction Manager

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