IT CAN BE MOVED: The Big Prawn, pictured under construction in 1990, can be moved according to the builders, Glenn Industries.
IT CAN BE MOVED: The Big Prawn, pictured under construction in 1990, can be moved according to the builders, Glenn Industries.

Facebookers say save the Prawn

WHILE it doesn’t count in the formal submission process, Facebookers have got behind Ballina’s Big Prawn.

There were on Tuesday four online petitions to save the Prawn from demolition, with a total of about 3800 people putting their names to the campaign.

The supporters come from around the world.

The development application to demolish the Big Prawn was lodged just over a fortnight ago by Dojoo Pty Ltd, Santo Pennisi’s company, and is currently on public exhibition and open to comment.

Ballina Shire Council’s general manager, Paul Hickey, said the application by the private landowner had to be considered within the NSW Planning framework, but social and community value is part of the criteria that would be used to assess the demolition application.

If the development application is approved, the Prawn could be gone as early as January next year.

Meanwhile, Tony Grosset, the technical manager and founder of the company that built the Big Prawn, Glenn Industries, said it was possible to move the Prawn.

The process would be similar to what many people do when they eat a not-so-big prawn – separate the head and tail from the body.

He estimated it would cost several hundred thousand dollars to move the Prawn, and, once the shell was separated, could be done in a day.

But that cost, he said, would be much cheaper than building a new Prawn – it cost $500,000 to construct the current Prawn in 1990.

Glenn Industries also built the Big Merino at Goulburn, and they were involved in moving to a new position on the Hume Highway late last year.

“Big things are part of the Australian landscape,” Mr Grosset said.

“Love them or hate them, they have now become part of what Australia is all about – pushing the boundaries, not taking life too seriously and giving things a go.”

He said the Big Merino had been a success due to the heritage display on the sheep industry within its structure, and said the Prawn could also be used to pay tribute to the local fishing industry, and other local history, within its structure.

Mr Grosset said he last visited the Prawn five years ago, and said he was confident the glass-reinforced cement was still in good repair.

“It would have shown visible signs of deterioration five years ago it if it wasn’t,” he said.

He said advances in paint technology since the Prawn was built meant there now were products which could give the Prawn a gloss, wet look with a lifespan of more than 30 years.

It took six months to build the Prawn.

Glenn Industries still have the designs for the Prawn, and Mr Grosset said they could be adjusted to suit any structure.

Lennox Head developer Chris Condon, who proposed building a new Big Prawn at a big service centre planned for the Teven Interchange on the Ballina bypass route, said he was keen to talk to Glenn Industries, and the current owner of the Prawn Santo Pennisi, about moving the Prawn.

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