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5 November, 2021

Old Molasses tank to finally go

YEARS after negotiations first started to knock down the Babinda molasses tank, the landmark structure at the side of the Bruce Highway will now finally be taken down.

By David Gardiner

THE TANK'S owner Aurizon has decided that it will be dismantled and removed after discussions with Cairns Regional Council and the Babinda community. 

The news has brought delight and relief to the Babinda Chamber of Commerce, which along with others in the community have endured years of painstaking and varying campaigns over the old tank’s future. 

“The Chamber is obviously happy with the decision as this is what we have been aiming for for quite a while,” Chamber President Rodney Edwards said. 

What to do with the tank – previously used to store molasses from the long-gone Babinda Sugar Mill – has been the subject of raging debate, ranging from proposals for new painted motifs or murals on the tank’s sides, to general cleaning and restoration, and finally to demolition. 

Next to the railway line and visible to thousands of travellers on the Highway each day, the tank has become more of an eyesore and deteriorated further with time dragging on and negotiations about its future By David Gardiner breaking down over and over again. 

Aurizon once floated the idea of handing over the molasses tank to the community and letting it decide what to do with the structure but the proposal was rejected, largely because of prohibitive costs.

Finally the company, the country’s largest rail freight operator, has decided the tank should go. 

“Following the completion of an engineering report on the condition of the Babinda tank and consultations with Cairns Regional Council and Babinda community representatives, Aurizon has taken a decision to proceed with the dismantling and removal of the Babinda tank,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to Cairns Local News. 

“Aurizon is currently preparing scope of works to obtain tenders for the demolition of the tank. We expect to conduct a tender process in the coming weeks and proceed to have the tank removed in the near future. 

“We will keep the Babinda community informed regarding the timing for commencement of the work to dismantle and remove the tank.” 

At this point Aurizon’s decision is only about removal of the tank itself. But Mr Edwards says they believe Aurizon should also remove disused “peripheral infrastructure” around the tank as well, because it would be more economical to tidy up the whole area in one hit. 

Babinda has also not given up on the idea of having some sort of iconic tank with a mural as an eye-catching landmark to encourage tourists to come into the town. The Chamber says if located strategically, a new large water tank – to reflect the area’s high rainfall - could attract visitors into the town to have a closer look, take photos, and explore and appreciate further what Babinda and it’s surrounds has to offer. 

Pictured below, Chamber of Commerce members inspect the old tank, soon to be demolished.

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