HMAS Darwin push a boon for East Coast

The HMAS Darwin, which was decommissioned in 2007. Picture: LSIS Kayla Hayes
The HMAS Darwin, which was decommissioned in 2007. Picture: LSIS Kayla Hayes

The diligence of a Tasmanian community has paid off.

The federal government on Thursday announced St Helens on the state’s East Coast had beat other sites across the country, to secure the wreck of the HMAS Darwin.

Normally, there is not usually a fight over a hunk of scrap metal. But the HMAS Darwin is different.

Its scuttling at St Helens is still to be fully approved by the state government, which stated it is still in finance and logistical negotiations before the deal is sealed.

While we wait for the final boxes to be ticked off, there is the time to appreciate the efforts of the East Coast community.

The community has not given up. Its dedication to securing a wreck has spanned years.

The precursor was the Tassie 4 Tobruk push, which involved lobbying and petitioning for the HMAS Tobruk to be scuttled at Skeleton Bay.

Ultimately, Queensland got the Tobruk over Tasmania. But, the proponents on the East Coast did not give up.

Dive operator Peter Paulsen has been at the forefront of the fight for a dive wreck for more than 15 years.

He says securing a wreck for the area would put them on the map as a “destination” in Tasmania.

It’s envisaged by proponents that the wreck would attract divers and their associated tourism from interstate and overseas.

As Tasmania’s tourism drawcard continues to grow, this would add another reason for visitors to choose the state over somewhere else.

Those who have visited the East Coast know the town can turn a little sleepy in the winter months.

But it seems the region is on a bit of a roll lately – securing triple j’s One Night Stand concert for September, and work forging ahead on the East Coast link of the Blue Derby Trails network.

While we wait for the final decision on HMAS Darwin, there’s no doubt that the East Coast has a community passionate about its future.

And that alone is a big enough win.