Gnowangerup passes on giant tractor bid

Gnowangerup passes on giant tractor bid

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An artist's drawing of the giant Chamberlain 40KA tractor which the Vintage Tractor & Machinery Association of WA considers would be a major WA tourist attraction.

An artist's drawing of the giant Chamberlain 40KA tractor which the Vintage Tractor & Machinery Association of WA considers would be a major WA tourist attraction.

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The town won the project from several other country towns involved in the original expressions of interest.

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THE Vintage Tractor & Machinery Association of WA (Tracmach) is likely to again call for expressions of interest to build the world's biggest Chamberlain tractor.

Tracmach president John Piavanini made the announcement this week after receiving news that the town of Gnowangerup was no longer proceeding with the project it won from several other country towns involved in the original expressions of interest.

"It's disappointing to receive the news and I will need to call a committee meeting now and discuss our options," Mr Piavanini said.

"From my viewpoint I am still keen to pursue the project but it will be up the Tracmach committee to decide what we do now."

Gnowangerup Biggest Tractor co-chairwoman Kate O'Keeffe said "financial prudence" had put a stop to Gnowangerup's bid.

"Gnowangerup was named as Tracmach's preferred site for a Big Tracto' replica in 2019, with hope the project would put the shire on the map of Australia's Biggest Things to visit and increase tourism and visitor traffic to the area," Ms O'Keeffe said.

"But the prohibitive cost to build the giant Chamberlain replica has now halted that dream.

"The Gnowangerup Biggest Tractor Committee has decided, after receiving three tender amounts using the exact drawings and specifications as set by their agreement with Tracmach, that the estimated building cost is neither realistic nor desirable in the current economic climate with limited corporate and government grant opportunities.

"The committee is also cognisant of the burden a significant fundraising figure would place on the local community.

"Since project inception we have had fantastic support from both the Shire of Gnowangerup and (local business group) GNP 360, but we were always conscious of not wanting to place a huge financial burden on ratepayers and residents in order to achieve this build.

"Once we received the tenders we acknowledged the amount needed to build the tractor would be totally out of step with community expectations for this project."

According to Ms O'Keeffe, the committee discussed reducing the size of the tractor or the scale of the project, but even with those measures the cost would not be reduced significantly to warrant its continuation.

"The Gnowangerup Biggest Tractor Committee has informed Tracmach of its decision," she said.

"We wish Tracmach the best of luck in finding another Western Australian town who is able to see the Big Tractor project come to fruition."

Mr Piavanini hoped the Tracmach committee would agree to keep the project "alive".

The giant tractor was to be a replica of the first tractor Chamberlain Industries manufactured, model 40KA.

The first Chamberlain tractor rolled off the assembly line in 1949, after Melbourne engineer A W (Bob) Chamberlain, accepted a WA government offer to set up in an ex-munitions factory in Welshpool.

Within a few years, Chamberlain Industries became a household name, selling tractors and ploughs, many of which are still sold at clearing sales.

Chamberlain Industries ceased in 1986 when John Deere took over the company.

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