Former Gunns woodchip mill in Triabunna, Tasmania, will not reopen, owners confirm, release development plans for site including lodge, marina, cruise ship wharf

HOBART, Australia , December 3, 2013 () – A MONA-inspired retreat will give new life to the Triabunna woodchip mill.

Wotif founder and philanthropist Graeme Wood promises the development will be like nothing before seen in Tasmania.

The old mill site will have a lodge, botanic gardens, culinary school, marina and education facilities offering TAFE-style courses.

The Spring Bay Mill project, to be officially launched today, is expected to create employment opportunities in the struggling East Coast community with Mr Wood predicting it would also spark spin-off businesses in Triabunna.

Mr Wood's plan effectively ends the forestry era and any hope that the Triabunna woodchip mill will reopen.

``It's important that the renewal of the mill also works towards the renewal of the social fabric for the people there,'' Mr Wood said.

Mr Wood and Kathmandu retail chain founder Jan Cameron controversially bought the mill in 2011, shutting down its woodchip operations.

The pair will bankroll the new project until they can secure investors.

Mr Wood said industrial infrastructure on the site, including large towering conveyors, would be incorporated into the retreat's design.

He said it would be a shift away from luxury projects that have characterised recent tourism developments.

``I'm keen to differentiate this from anything else on the East Coast and in Tasmania,'' he said. ``I guess I'm taking a leaf out of MONA's book here . . . and look what a success that's been.''

Mr Woods said he had been consulting with the MONA team, which were ``buzzing with ideas'' about the project.

More details were expected to be released today.

The collaboration has already sparked plans to stage a MONA FOMA music event in a large shed at the mill in January.

Mr Wood hoped the blend of activities on offer would drive year-round visitation.

He said they were in talks with TasPorts to build a replacement wharf, in the hope of luring cruise ships.

Gardening experts from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens were contributing to a landscape design for the site, with plans to also develop a kitchen garden.

``We want to develop an extensive food garden here and off that run a cooking school,'' Mr Wood said.

(c) 2013 News Limited

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