"We built the snowy, this is nothing...Local business people are lining up to get involved...If all goes smoothly, the Rings will be up within a year."
These were the bold words of Jindabyne businessman, Gus Herstik to the Goulburn Post on May 1 this year. Today, the Olympic Rings are still sitting and rusting in the yards of Kermac Engineering, Goulburn. Clearly, the confident Jindabyne bid to have the Rings has fallen through, which begs the question - can Goulburn mount another challenge to install the Rings in the city in which they were built?
"There was a public backlash to the idea of putting the Rings on public land," said Viv Straw, Snowy River Shire Environmental Services manager. "The developer wanted to put it on the foreshore of Lake Jindabyne but it was thought that this would obscure the beautiful view of the lake so the town's people didn't want them.
"Snowy River Council resolved that it had no objection to a developmental application being lodged about the Rings, but not on public land. We put it back on Mr Herstik to find the land and the investors and none have since been forthcoming."
Despite repeated attempts to contact Mr Herstik about the failed Jindabyne bid for the Rings, he was unavailable for comment.
The Rings, which were built in Goulburn, cost $750,000 to build. They are 78m wide and 40m high when erected in their full glory as they were when they adorned the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Former Mayor of Goulburn Tony Lamarra, originally had the idea to erect the Rings on the outskirts of Goulburn whilst watching the Olympic coverage on TV.
"I realised that they were an icon for Goulburn and an icon to the whole world. Millions saw them on the television and the internet when the games were on. They are a symbol of progress and I think it would show a great deal of confidence on behalf of local business in the city if the Rings were proudly displayed on the outskirts of town for visitors to see as they drove past. It might even entice some more of them into the place," he said.
Mr Lamarra was outspoken at the time about the lack of Goulburn City Council support in relation to seizing the opportunity to hang onto the Rings when it looked like they were lost to Jindabyne.
"I was sorry for Goulburn when I thought that we had missed out on keeping them but I was glad that they were going somewhere and that they were not going to be scraped," Mr Lamarra said.
Mr Lamarra and a dedicated committee had previously arranged a very serious bid to install the Rings and all that was lacking was council support. According to Mr Lamarra, he had 160 people involved who believed in the idea and were ready to donate their time, machinery, materials, a crane, and steel ropes to the project.
"We had over $300,000 in kind and Ken Fazakerly from Kermac had agreed to donate the Rings to us if we could find the land and install them," said Mr Lamarra.
There were concerns at the time that the project was going to cost $2 Million but this was simply not true according to Mr Lamarra. With the donated Rings, the committee had $1 million behind them and was ready to move. The committee had support from the RTA, Corrective Services, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourist Industry.
"The Rings were never going to cost $2 million to install. They were going to be donated. Someone bandied this figure around at the time and unfortunately it stuck.
"We had enough money and support to erect the Rings. We didn't leave a stone unturned.
"We just needed part of the land that we had chosen on the Canberra approach to the city to be donated to us by council. The land was half owned by council and half-owned privately. The private owner had given us permission to use his land for the rings," Mr Lamarra said.
"We were so confident; we were already planning the opening day. We were going to have 200 parachutists to drop from a Hercules aircraft and form the Rings in the sky over Goulburn. It would have been a spectacular sight.
"You see, you need vision to get things going.
If people can imagine something in their minds then that is half the battle - it already exists. Everything flows from there. The committee has not given up the idea. We are still ready to move.
"I would just need to make 160 quick phone calls and we'd be back in business. I am ready to make those calls as soon as council reconsiders its position," he said.
The Goulburn Post understands the Rings are up for discussion at the Goulburn City Council meeting tomorrow night.