ARTHURS Seat’s historic lookout tower is no more. The 78-year-old concrete and steel tower was demolished last Wednesday by Parks Victoria’s contractors Guilfoyle Australasia.
The company used a high-reach excavator that reminded onlookers of a mechanical Tyrannosaurus rex. It chewed through the tower in a matter of hours.
On Monday and Tuesday, the contractors salvaged a number of items from the tower, which Dromana and District Historical Society president Peter Holloway hopes will be displayed in an interpretative centre.
The centre would either be a small building on the footprint of the tower or part of the top station of the new chairlift, being built by a consortium led by 2011 Australian of the Year Simon McKeon, a senior executive with Macquarie Bank.
Items rescued included all three iron gates from the tower’s base; the Captain Matthew Flinders commemorative stone plaque; the Shire of Flinders plaque commemorating the tower’s builder, the engineer G W Brown; all six directional brass plaques that point to distant landmarks such as Melbourne, Mt Macedon and Mt Dandenong; and parts of some of the lattice windows.
Mr Holloway said it was a sad day for the peninsula’s history.
“The demolition of the tower needs to motivate the peninsula community as soon as possible to the next step in commemorating this most significant part of the history of Arthurs Seat,” he said.
Mr Holloway said he hoped the building of a museum to house the salvaged items and tell the history of Arthurs Seat would be supported by local heritage groups, Parks Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Shire, local businesses, philanthropists and the chairlift consortium.
He said an interpretative centre could tell the story of Arthurs Seat, which was a significant site for Aborigines as well as Europeans over more than 200 years.
Explorer Matthew Flinders climbed the 300-metre mountain in 1803 during his survey of Port Phillip.
The tower was erected by the Shire of Flinders in 1934-35 for the centenary of Victoria 1834-1934.
Its removal opens the way for a new chairlift, which will have a top station behind the tower’s footprint. The $5 million plus chairlift project will include a 360-degree viewing tower as well as a bottom station with cafe and large car park.
It will replace the chairlift built in 1961 that has not operated since mid-2006 when mechanical failure stranded about 12 people.