The Triabunna Wood Chip Mill was built in the 1970’s. It was the world’s largest wood chip mill in its heyday with a license to export 600,000 tons per year. The ancient old growth forests of southern Tasmania were clear-felled to feed the apparently insatiable global demand for wood chips to be made into paper. That’s around 100,000 perfectly healthy trees per annum as well as the mindless destruction of the rich biodiversity of the understory.
Graeme Wood underwrote the purchase of the Mill when it was offered for sale in 2011.
With the end of large-scale wood chipping in southern Tasmania the ongoing carbon sequestration of those saved southern forests has been a major contributor to the carbon positive position that Tasmania can now rightfully boast.
Every decision we make, from the products we buy to the people we work with and the way we construct our built environment, is taken with the best possible environmental, social and cultural outcomes in mind.
The process of using a light touch to repurpose the industrial infrastructure while regenerating this 42ha site brings a range of both obvious and subtle benefits to our guest, our staff and the local community.
Here are a few of the ways in which we are doing this.
We’re all about planting and growing. More than 20,000 local endemic and Tasmanian endemic plants have been added throughout the site so far. We’ve reintroduced many original species that existed prior to European settlement including dozens of rare and threatened species.
We want to welcome back all the local critters, so our landscapes are carefully designed to provide the best habitat opportunities. We regularly witness echidnas, Tasmanian Devils and wombats happily returning to the site.
Often under-appreciated, grasslands are some of the world’s most significant carbon storage environments. Grasslands in Tasmania have been reduced from over 800,000ha 200 years ago to less than 5000ha today. So, we’ve paid particular attention to the planting of native grasses to create peaceful and scenic grassland areas throughout the site.
Always sowing seeds for the future, our onsite nursery propagates over 10,000 plants annually. These are planted both here at the Mill and supplied to community revegetation initiatives throughout the east coast.
You can get hands-on and make a long-lasting contribution to our rejuvenation project by adding a tree-planting or horticultural experience to your wedding or special event at the Mill.
Its former industrial use as a wood chip mill meant the site has had legacy contamination in some localised areas which have been investigated, managed and/or remediated during site redevelopment works to make sure that the site is safe for workers, visitors and the environment.
This has been undertaken by a team of environmental scientists who have studied site soils, groundwater and stormwater whilst working closely with our team of builders, architects and horticulturalists for effective solutions that are in line with Spring Bay Mill’s site development and its vision.
Cultural guidance and social responsibility
Being responsible custodians of this site goes beyond ecological restoration. We are committed to people, community and Culture. Building relationships, respecting history and creating a safe and welcoming place for all who work and play here.
We’re grateful to the First Nations’ organisations and Traditional Owners who guide us in interpreting and protecting the Cultural importance of this site. And we invite our guests to learn more by incorporating Aboriginal Culture and history experiences into events held here at the Mill.
Together with palawa, pakana and truwana Aboriginal rangers from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Cape Barren Island, we have reintroduced Cultural Burning practices into designated areas of the Mill’s extensive natural bushland. This is the first Cultural Burning practice held on this site in nearly two centuries and it will be just the beginning of a regular program of Cultural and native bushland management for the future.
We are Triabunna proud. Working to build positive reciprocal relationships with the local community through volunteer events, training, employment and education. Wherever possible we work with local suppliers and employ as many people as we can from the community. We also supply apprenticeships and training opportunities for Triabunna residents.
Spring Bay Mill is an open, inclusive space and we welcome input, ideas and participation from all who visit. So don’t be shy about letting us know when we can do better.
Our horticulture team manages healthy, abundant gardens without the use of conventional fertilisers or pesticides. We manage pest control through mixed planting and natural deterrents and feed our plants with composts made on site from our own food and garden waste.
The food we grow is used by our chef to cater for events and supplied to the community through local markets.
Read more about our horticulture projects here.
The former wood chip mill used more than 200,000 litres of mains water extracted from the Prosser river per day at its peak log-processing stage.
Today, we harvest more rainwater than we use from the public supply. We have 170,000 litres of rainwater storage which is used for drinking, irrigation and sanitation and our Beach Shacks are supplied entirely by rainwater.
Energy saving and renewable energy
We do our best in all areas of the business to reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
Our Beach Shacks are run entirely on solar power. All lighting throughout the site is low-energy and we have a fleet of electric vehicles for onsite transport and housekeeping.
Waste reduction and consumables
Organic waste including kitchen scraps are returned to the earth via a range of onsite composting methods including our super-productive commercial worm farms. The happy worms also provide nutrient-rich leachates that are further fermented to produce our wonderfully beneficial Natural Plant Tonic.
We’re committed to eliminating all single-use plastics from our business and our events. We don’t offer straws with your drink, take-away food packaging is all compostable or biodegradable and when we do use paper napkins or hand-towels they are unbleached and compostable.
Our toiletries are purchased in bulk and supplied in refillable containers.
We aim to only supply bottled drinks in glass and we’ve got water dispensers throughout the site providing clean, cool drinking water, so BYO refillable bottle to quench your thirst for free and help us to reduce that plastic.
Cleaning is done with the highest quality biodegradable products that minimise the use of harmful ingredients.
Construction and interiors
Much of our built environment is one big recycling project. Rather than demolish the buildings and industrial infrastructure of the former wood chip mill we have repurposed and upcycled them into new, beautiful and functional spaces. This process saved thousands of tonnes in raw materials, concrete and transport. And won us a few awards for sustainable architecture along the way.
Laura McCusker, our furniture designer/maker repurposed much of the old office furniture that was left at the Mill. Restyling mid-century office chairs and tables into modern and functional pieces. She also works extensively with recycled materials and only the most sustainably sourced timbers.
Events that tread lightly on the earth
We are striving to become Australia’s most sustainable events venue. Talk to us about more ways we can help you plan your next social or business event with reduced carbon emissions and a net positive impact on the environment.