Demolition of the prawn complex, including the former petrol station near where the famous crustacean looms, has begun, to make way for a Bunnings Warehouse.
Demolition of the prawn complex, including the former petrol station near where the famous crustacean looms, has begun, to make way for a Bunnings Warehouse. Patrick Gorbunovs

The Big Prawn ready for makeover

THE buildings are coming down around it but Ballina's big prawn still stands proud.

Demolition of the prawn complex, including the former petrol station near where the famous crustacean looms, has begun, to make way for a Bunnings Warehouse.

The iconic prawn, which was also set for demolition, was last year spared when the hardware chain said it would save the prawn by incorporating it into the design of the new warehouse.

Bunnings said the prawn was staying because it meant so much to the people of Ballina.

Not only that, Bunnings will give the prawn a makeover, although yesterday staff were tight lipped about exactly what the nip and tuck would entail.

Bunnings confirmed the $31 million development was on schedule and due to open in mid 2013.

Bunnings has a smaller store in the Ballina industrial estate, employing 44 people.

The new warehouse would see another 70 jobs created while 180 people would be employed during the construction phase, the company said.

Ballina residents will have the opportunity to apply for jobs at the new warehouse early in the new year.

Originally approved by Ballina Shire Council in 1988 and built in 1990 at a cost of $500,000, the six-metre by nine-metre fibreglass crustacean quickly became one of Australia's best-loved "big things".

In its heyday, the prawn complex had a seafood market, souvenir shop and restaurants and was a popular traveller rest spot on the Pacific Hwy, which now bypasses the town.

But as time passed, the prawn began to lose its lustre and in 2009, the council approved plans for its demolition. The prawn's fate generated national interest and prompted a wave of support, including a Facebook page campaigning for it to be saved.



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