Caltex service station employee Treaci Ashcroft refelects on her last shift at the site. The iconic Big Prawn may now be just days away from demolition.
Caltex service station employee Treaci Ashcroft refelects on her last shift at the site. The iconic Big Prawn may now be just days away from demolition. Doug Eaton

Ballina bids Big Prawn adieu

DEMOLITION of Ballina’s famous Big Prawn could start any day now, after the Caltex complex stopped trading on Monday morning.

Every shop in the complex has been vacated and Ballina is now without a 24-hour service station.

The whole situation is a ‘real shame’, according to Treaci Ashcroft, who worked the final shift at the Caltex before they closed their doors.

“It’s really sad because I loved the work,” the Ballina woman said.

“The truckies and the bus people and tourists were all great.

“But I had to keep reminding people, especially the truckies, that we were closing up for ever.

“They were coming in and saying, ‘so when do you close?’ And I was like, ‘6am today’.

“We had to keep telling them and telling them, and hoping they would pass the message on, because you don’t want them planning to be able to rest here and fuel up.

“So a lot of them are planning to stop at Chinderah now.

“The bus drivers reckon they’ll have their meal breaks up there, too, and only do pick-ups and drop-offs at Tamar Street.

“But I think there does need to be something here in Ballina.”

Owner of the site, Santo Pennisi, has not yet revealed his plans for the block, and has also refused to say when demolition work will begin.

However, it is understood work will start this month.

Ballina man Murray Perrin was one of the last people to get fuel from the Caltex Big Prawn.

He said it was the ‘end of an era’.

“The Big Prawn’s been around a long time,” he said.

“I used to come here with my boys when they were in nappies.

“We’d go up and look out through the eyes.

“I think it’s a real shame that it’s all coming to an end.

“The Big Prawn is what Ballina is all about.”

Ballina Shire Council gave Mr Pennisi approval to demolish the Big Prawn in August last year.

Since then, the giant crustacean has received world-wide attention, with various campaigns being launched in an attempt to save it.

But Lennox Head developer Chris Condon says he will build a new Big Prawn at his proposed service centre on the Teven Road interchange of the Ballina bypass.



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