Burnie is an ex-industrial hub of Tasmania. It was facing the slow, gradual demise that many Australian towns & suburbs have experienced as we gradually loose our manufacturing base to other countries where labour is cheaper, and we are left the some how live with the industrial waste of manufacturing. Burnie is Tasmania’s commercial port & produce, timber & minerals were often transported from her port. Sadly the subsequent environmental impact on the town was significant & after some of the larger corporates pulled out of Burnie during Australia’s economic recession of the early 1990’s. Bascially they needed to ‘re-invent’ themselves & create new ‘industries’ to take them into the future.
We discovered a place called CREATIVE PAPER in Burnie. Creative Paper is a boutique paper making company that makes coloured & natural toned paper from all sorts of natural ingredients like plants & fibres. It started as a subsidized unemployment project (Work for the Dole) & it is still evolving. It is housed in old 50’s style factory buildings (Burnie once mass produced ‘Reflex’ brand paper), however is to be relocated in 2007. What I found there was delicious handmade papers, beautiful handmade journals & delicious cardstock (a paper junkies’ dream). Some resident ‘paper artists’ make these amazing life sized statues which are so real, you see children touching them & eying them with wonder. There is interpretive signage to show you how everything is done & you can also participate in workshops (unforturnately not while we were there) Apparently there is quite a story to the lady now running the place as she moved from Scotland to be there. & recently won an award for her contribution. I think in the future this will be a real Tasmanian success story, what they are doing already is wonderful.
When I read the ‘meet the MAKERS of BURNIE tasmania’ brochure, I was really impressed at what a pro-active approach the people had taken to what must have been an impending future of doom & gloom. We drove 3 1/2 hours through mountains & highways to get there & to be honest, there was alot more promotion, than there was town……….it was just a dirty industrial town with not alot around to see or do, and pretty short on tourist facilities (aka a clean toilet & somewhere nice for breakfast). I think that with the attitude that they have about developing their current natural assets & abilities though, it will certainly be an interesting place to visit in the future………..like the saying goes…
Rome wasn’t built in a day!