THE owner of a local engineering site has issued a tantalising challenge to Goulburn.
Find a site for the Olympic rings and he’ll donate them to the city.
DME Engineering managing director Don Earle inherited the five rings that adorned the Sydney Harbour Bridge back in 2000 and won Goulburn national attention.
His predecessor at his north Goulburn business, Kermac Engineering, manufactured the steel monsters that lit up in all their glory for the Olympics’ start.
Now they’re just a pile of metal. But with one of the engineering firm’s buildings sold and the other on the market, there’s an opportunity begging, Mr Earle says.
“We want to ensure Goulburn has a chance to do something with the rings,” he told the Post.
“They were designed and manufactured here and it would be great to see them stay here. We’ve put a few people on notice that if nothing happens with them, they’ll go to scrap.”
The only condition is that DME Engineering secures the contract to erect the rings. After that, maintenance falls to the new owner.
Asked about the possible cost, Mr Earle said it depended where they were mounted. Erecting them in a ‘paddock’ would be more expensive due to the concrete footings needed.
The rings are 70 metres tall, 40m wide and comprise an estimated 40 to 50 tonnes of steel.
In the late 1990s their manufacture was top secret but soon became the public pride and joy of former Kermac Engineering owner, Ken Fazakerley.
Mr Earle is selling the Cemetery St buildings and concentrating on his outer Sydney interests.
He leased the complex to Mass Steel, whose trading company, Old MS Pty Ltd, has been placed in liquidation with alleged debts of $11.5 million.
DME Engineering is also allegedly owed money.
“What happened was very sad for everyone,” he said.
“There were no winners in that situation and it’s now in the hands of the liquidators.”
Mr Earle described the market as tough, with a great deal of work going overseas.
But at the very least, he wants to leave a legacy for the city.
“What a great landmark for the city the rings would be, aside from the Big Merino,” he said.
“It would be very sad to see them just chopped up.”
Former Goulburn City Mayor Tony Lamarra, who several years ago led a campaign to erect the rings on a rise near South McDonalds, would love to see them on display.
But he concedes it’s very unlikely to happen.
Had they been displayed, a few hundreds jobs would have been indirectly created via tourism, the installation process and new residents, Mr Lamarra claimed.
“It’s probably too late to do anything because the cost has escalated so much it would be almost impossible,” he told the Post.
“The rings can only be used for one purpose – what they were designed for.
“I would love to see them put back where they belong. We had everything going for us, we had it all worked out to a fine point. I had 150 supporters from all walks of life, businessmen and women, business houses, come forward to lend a hand.
“We picked out the best spot we could on the highway. People would have looked at them for 3km.”
Aside from cost, Mr Lamarra says the sheer workload means it’s unlikely the rings can be put on display.
“Who’s going to do it now? I’m prepared to give advice, but I can’t do all the work,” he said.
“Australia created the best Olympic Games. I was proud that the rings were made in Goulburn and I was proud that there was a place in Goulburn for them.
“The project could still be done. It will be expensive, but we need people to listen… Anything can be done, as long as there’s goodwill.”
Mayor Geoff Kettle said he’d also like to see the rings used but questioned whether it was possible given restrictions surrounding their use for commercial benefit.
“If he (Don Earle) is prepared to donate them, I’m prepared to write to the AOC. Obviously if it’s going to cost $6 million, it can’t happen, we don’t have that sort of money.
“If we can do it appropriately, with AOC commission, of course we’d do it,” he said.