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Fired by passion – councillor calls for Windsor’s heritage lamps to run on gas as the clock ticks…

Aug 29, 2022


Hawkesbury City Councillor Shane Djuric is a man on a mission to protect and enhance the Hawkesbury’s heritage, so much so he’s just been – at his own expense – to Port Pirie, in South Australia, for a special event – the re-lighting of the town’s restored gas lamps.


It was a timely visit because while some Hawkesbury councillors and business folks too want to see Windsor’s historic street Mall lamps once again running on gas, the multi-million dollar Liveability project – which in part will see a revitalisation of Windsor town centre and surrounds – may lead to the lamps running on decidedly unromantic non-heritage LED lights.


Councillor Djuric was invited by David Holden, Manager of Australian Gas Networks (SA), to attend the launch of the Port Pirie Winter Festival on the evening of Friday 5 August where the town relit eight restored gas lights.


Work on the seven gas lights mounted on posts, and one on the front wall of the Port Pirie museum, was inspired by the passion of members of the local community to save their area’s heritage gas lights.


Hawkesbury Cllr Shane Djuric (right) with Port Pirie Regional Council Mayor, Leon Stephens, stand beneath one of Port Pirie’s gas-fired lamps…

Mr Holden’s company paid for the restoration of the lights, including their ornate copper tops.


Meanwhile, in Windsor, there are some councillors and council staff who want to see our historic lamps run on LED lights – not least because they believe it will take the Council closer to the net zero emissions they have promised ratepayers.


The plan is for the Windsor gas lamps – which are not running on gas now, but are still connected underground – to be kept but moved to the sides of the Mall.


Cllr Djuric says moving the underground gas pipes too would not be much of an issue given the Mall is going to see some fairly major rejuvenation running into millions of dollars.


While he was in Port Pirie, the Hawkesbury councillor met Port Pirie Regional Council Mayor, Leon Stephens.


The Mayor warmly welcomed our Hawkesbury City Councillor and photographs were taken of the two at the special relighting of the town’s gas lights.


The good news is the introduction of hydrogen. A plant at Tonsley in Adelaide is producing emissions-free hydrogen which is added into the gas network, currently making up 5% of the gas supply. While this is not a large percentage, Australia Gas Networks is linked to the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group which aims to deliver at least 10% renewable hydrogen gas in its distribution networks by 2030, and 100% by 2040 across Australia. When that happens it means all gas we burn will be hydrogen which has zero harmful emissions – it’s only emission is water.


Historic Port Pirie values its heritage gas lamps…


A barbecue heated by hydrogen gas was used to cook sausages at the Port Pirie event, and one demonstration gas lamp was also set up to run on hydrogen – so it works.


“I went to Port Pirie to try and gain some knowledge to hopefully inspire some of my fellow chamber members to support the appropriate restoration of our gas lamps, in line with community sentiment,” Cllr Djuric told the Post.


Cllr Djuric says he doesn’t think it is a major job – in the great scheme of the planned rejuvenation – to re-lay the gas pipes.


“Being on the cusp of pure green gas, I think to then put LEDs in our lamps, it’s just vandalising those lamps.”


“Council’s generally trying to work towards zero emissions so I’m not trying to have a shot at them,” Cllr Djuric says, “but the modern mantels you can get in gas lamps today, they run at a 75% drop in emissions anyway. And then along with our hydrogen in gas it’s a further 10% reduction in emissions and by 2040 we’re going to be running them with no emissions at all.”


He says we need to embrace our history, and Windsor’s gas lamps are a big part of that.


“The interesting thing is our first gas lamp was unveiled on 6th of December, 1884. These gas lamps [the ones currently in place] were unveiled on 8th December in 1984. It really was an ode to our first gas lamp a hundred years earlier and that’s part of our identity and in 1984 they embraced that identity and we’ve just lost a little bit of that passion for invoking our history.


“It’s part of our identity and in 1984 they embraced that identity and we’ve just lost a little bit of that passion for invoking our history.”


“Windsor is so important, so significant in regards to the beginning of the modern Australia, surely the Council should be embracing this at every turn.”


This Sunday, Windsor was bustling, the markets were in full swing, the sun was out, and Cllr Djuric will tell you, “people enjoy coming to the Hawkesbury because of its history and what we have there”.


“And to have those lamps operational would be beautiful and embracing tourism in regard to our history and Port Pirie have done a really good job with that, embracing their history and that’s what’s driving their tourism and I think we should be doing the same.”


Port Pirie Regional Council celebrate the re-lighting of the town’s historic gas lamps…


He adds, “there are a couple of councillors and staff who are pushing for LEDs because they are trying to head towards zero emissions but I think in terms of the green gas that’s coming, and the fact the LEDs are being run by coal-fired power, I think if we just held off a little bit on the concerns we could do a better job.


“From the people pushing the concerns I think they are genuine, but it’s very important to highlight that we are on the cusp of green energy and I think they should maybe reconsider their opinion.”


But time is of the essence as the plans for Windsor’s rejuvenation move along.


“Let’s just say they are not excited about talking to me about manipulating the project, we are that far down the track, but when it comes to destroying something so significant I don’t think it is too late,” he says..


“We are absolutely significant in Australia’s history. I don’t know how we are not exploiting that at every turn.”


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