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Tuesday 31 August, 6.00pm
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The Independent Weekly
August 20 - 26, 2010
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Publication Date: August 20, 2010. Recommended and maximum price only.
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Barossa rails against train station demolition
To the casual observer, the once-
bustling Nuriootpa Railway
Station is nothing more than
a beat-up, graffiti-covered eyesore,
but it is the last remaining example
of the temporary wooden buildings
which dotted the SA countryside
100 years ago.
Built in 1911, it was the social hub
of Nuriootpa and after just one year
the station was expanded to keep up
It even played an important role
in SA s wine economy. Penfolds
Nuriootpa Winery was one of the
largest wineries in the world, and
it was through the station s freight
doors that the world got a taste of
the renowned wines.
These are just a few reasons why
the station is on the Local Heritage
Place list, yet the Barossa Council
and Adelaide-based rail freight
operator Genesee and Wyoming
Australia (GWA) plan to tear it
The demolition wheels have been
set in motion, but local resident
Kim Michelmore, who has fond
memories of the working station,
is fighting in court to save it. "The
only grounds that can be used for
demolition for a heritage-listed
building is that the building is
grossly unsound and cannot be
rehabilitated," he said. "While it is
unsound, it s certainly not grossly
unsound, and it can be rehabilitated
The Barossa Council has
a different view. "One of the
council s building surveyors did
an independent assessment on the
structural integrity and indicated
the building was not structurally
sound," council planning services
manager Louis Monteduro said. "A
heritage architect had a look at it as
well and agreed it was going to be
difficult to restore."
Mr Michelmore argues there is
a conflict of interest, as Barossa
Council is already in negotiations
with GWA over development of the
land. "At this stage the only reports
we have seen are those from council
staff. They have a vested interest
in it because the council wants to
develop the area as a recreational
park," he alleges.
The council rejects this claim. Its
heritage advisor stated in an email
on April 13, 2010: "This building
is listed as Local Heritage Place
and ideally should be conserved.
However, it appears the building is
currently unsafe, in poor condition
and has little hope of being restored
by its owners. Due to the safety risk
issues associated with its condition,
there appears to be little option
other than demolition. The costs
of restoration would also now be
Yet the building was ageing
gracefully until 2004, when it was
still in use. Once vacant, however, it
became a vandals paradise and was
allowed to fall into disrepair.
It was not until June 2008 that
GWA lodged its application for
demolition, which was approved
in June this year. Yet GWA, which
is leasing the site from the SA
Government, is responsible for
keeping buildings on the land clean
and in good condition.
The Barossa Council said it had
been lobbying since 2008 for GWA to
maintain the building. "Buildings
that are being leased by GWA are
being allowed to go to ruin. We re
still struggling to get a straight
answer from them," Mr Monteduro
Mr Michelmore said community
use of Tanunda railway station
was an example of what could be
possible at Nuriootpa.
"There is a men s group in
Nuriootpa that are desperate for
a place and they would really love
to have it. That would be an ideal
use for it because you have a group
of people who would be able to
maintain the building and who
would utilise it."
This could be a chance for the
community to turn an eyesore back
into the bustling social hub it once
Anameless drug, developed in
Adelaide to stop the brain
swelling after major trauma,
might also have the potential
to revolutionise the way spinal
injuries are treated.
Adelaide University Professor
Robert Vink, who heads the
Adelaide Centre for Neuroscience
Research, has overseen the drug s
development for eight years.
"When a brain swells after major
injury, enormous pressure is built
up. This cuts off blood flow to the
area, which cuts off the supply of
oxygen and nutrients," Professor
A similar phenomenon occurs
when a spinal cord is injured.
Swelling restricts the supply of
oxygen and nutrients, making the
injury far worse.
"The drug stops that swelling and
we think it could do the same thing
for spinal injuries," he said.
The drug is yet to be tested on
spinal injury models and a testing
program would cost $5 million.
"If it works on a spinal injury
model, it would ensure a lot of
people save a lot of their function,"
Professor Vink said.
It was never his team s aim to
develop the drug for use with spinal
injury. It was only after Professor
Vink was approached by the Neil
Sachse Foundation that its potential
alternate use was mentioned.
The Neil Sachse Foundation was
established by former champion
footballer Neil Sachse and is
dedicated to finding a cure for
spinal injury. A sporting accident
suffered during his second match
for Footscray in 1975 left Sachse a
The incident is widely recognised
as the worst injury suffered at the
highest level of Australian football.
"We made first contact with
Robert about three years ago," said
Jay Richards, general manager of
the Neil Sachse Foundation.
"You can sustain up to 80 per
cent damage to your spinal cord
and retain full mobility. If that was
all that happened, the body could
recover on its own merits ... but it s
"The swelling around the affected
area very quickly increases that
damage to 85 or 90 per cent and
beyond. That s when you get
Mr Richards said that if the drug
worked on spinal injury models,
it would be hard to calculate how
significant it would be for people
here and around the globe. "You
can t measure the impact this drug
could have on the individual," he
"There are 400 cases of
significant spinal injury in this
country each year. Australia spends
approximately $1 billion annually
on spinal injury care.
"The lifetime care costs for a
paraplegic are estimated at around
$5 million -- it s almost double that
for a quadriplegic.
"We re talking about the
opportunity to keep someone out
of a chair, rather than a lifetime of
paralysis. The benefit of that for
the individual, their family, their
community -- you can t put a price
The drug has been licensed out to
Eustralis Pharmaceuticals, which
is looking for a pharmaceutical
partner to commercialise it before
it goes on the market to treat brain
Mr Richards said it was one
of the Neil Sachse Foundation s
primary goals to raise the necessary
funds to begin testing on spinal
Drug puts backs on track
The once-bustling Nuriootpa Railway Station is set to be demolished.
Quadriplegic Neil Sachse and Neil Sachse Foundation general manager Jay Richards
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