The Society acknowledges the traditional owners of the Irwin Districts, their continuing connection to land, sea and community and pays its respects to elders and their cultures, past and present.

Port Denison Hall (fmr. Bond Store, 1894)

Port Denison Bond Store c1900
1894Denison Hall built as a goods shed and bond store connected to William Street Jetty in Port Denison
1939The store extended and adapted by Dongarra Beach Progress Association for use as a community hall.
1961The hall named ‘Denison Hall’ and leased to the Denison Progress Association as a community hall
1990The hall named the ‘Denison Fishermen’s Hall’ and extended again by Dongara Fishermen’s Association for use as a community hall
11 June 1997Denison Hall first assessed as being of heritage significance in Irwin Municipal Inventory
20 August 2004Heritage significance confirmed in 1st review of Municipal Inventory
2006IDHS Shipwreck Walk installed to north of Hall
1 October 2013Foreshore Masterplan proposes to either refurbish or demolish Denison Hall, and change the shipwreck walk
29 November 2018IDHS resolved to oppose demolition of Denison Hall because of its historical values and heritage significance
10-15/12/18 (Southerlys)Shire information session on proposed changes to the foreshore (the ‘Green Space Initiative’) include question of demolition of Denison Hall – 52 people attended: 87% opposed demolition. 52% wanted the Hall kept for public use, 29% wanted a history museum and 4% wanted a tourist information centre. On the other hand, 7 people wanted the Hall demolished.
26 February 2019Irwin Shire Council voted to dismantle and remove Denison Hall. The vote was 7 in favour, 1 against.
14 March 2019IDHS Planning Meeting adopts strategic plan, with goal #3 “Being sustainable in the long term – project 3 – Museum of Fishing Denison Hall – industry/govt partnership and investment needed”
14 March 2019IDHS Planning Meeting reaffirms its opposition to demolition of the Hall, agrees to petition Shire to reverse its decision and keep the Hall. The Save Denison Hall campaign was born.
31 March 2019IDHS releases public petition opposing demolition, opposing Shire funding for demolition, and seeking adaptive re-use and conservation of the Hall for public use and a museum of fishing
8 April 2019Media Release issued, stating IDHS opposition to demolition of Denison Hall, and supporting adaptation for public uses and museum of fishing
10 April 2019Midwest Times Page 1 article on IDHS opposition to demolition; media released published in several local papers on Batavia Coast and North Midlands
11 April 2019Shire President and CEO request meeting with IDHS – meeting held, Shire agrees to commission a heritage architect to assess the historic fabric of the Hall
13 May 2019Dongara Professional Fishermen’s Association (DPFA) asks its members to support the IDHS campaign to save the Hall.
14 July 2019“Denison Hall – It Has a Future” background briefing distributed to all shire councillors on the heritage significance and adaptation of the Hall as a museum of fishing (google group)
16 July 2019Contact with Howard Gray (historian) – indicates support of Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association support for museum
18 July 20191st request to Shire CEO for copy of heritage report (by email)
22 July 2019Letter to councillors requesting no funding be budgeted for demolition (google group)
25 July 2019Rag Report - listed recent lobbying efforts
24 July 2019WA History Foundation grant application – for history of fishing out of Port Denison
8 August 2019Rag Report – outlines ideas for museum
8 August 2019Shire CEO and IDHS meet, agree to work together to design new approach to Shipwreck Walk (meeting by phone)
8 August 20192nd request to Shire CEO for copy of heritage report (by phone)
12 August 2019Heritage Council of WA “Heritage in Action – Adaptive Reuse” adaptive re-use guide circulated to shire councillors (google group)
15 August 2019Heritage Skills project letter circulated to shire councillors, including reference to traditional boat/fishing skills in museum (google group)
18 August 2019Western Australian History Foundation awards $4,000 grant for history of fishing out of Port Denison
19 August 2019Name “Museum of Fishing and the Sea”, with acronym of MOFATS, developed.
19 August 2019“Denison Hall has a Past, Present and Future” - MOFATS scheme presentation circulated to shire councillors (google group)
26 August 2019Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association letter of support to IDHS for MOFATS
26 August 2019Greenough Museum letter of support to IDHS for MOFATS
27 August 2019Petition submitted to Irwin Shire Council with signatures of 221 electors and 66 non-electors - 221 electors = c10% of all Shire electors who oppose demolition, oppose and funding for demolition in the shire budget, and want the Hall kept and used for a museum of fishing.
28 August 20193rd request to Shire CEO for copy of heritage report (by email)
28 August 2019Media Release about submission of petition, and directing people to MOFATS page on website
28 August 2019Links to MOFATS presentation on our website sent to all councillors (google group)
29 August 2018Rag letter – advising people to go to IDHS website and view or download MOFATS concept presentation – 48 views and 24 downloads in first 3 days.
30 August 2019Copy of heritage report received from CEO – confirms heritage significance of the Hall, and its suitability for creative adaptive re-use and conservation.
5 September 2019DPFA advised IDHS they support MOFATS proposal, and will be seeking a lease on the Hall from the Shire and offer to pay for all maintenance
5 September 2019IDHS met with Shire CEO – suggested Council might consider deferring implementation of demolition resolution for 12 months to allow time for development of MOFATS, stated complete removal of the structure would be a ‘red line’ for IDHS, we could not support building some sort of new structure using the historic timbers – it would be fake heritage
16 September 2019Request to CEO to make a presentation to full Council (email); IDHS survey of Shire election candidates approaches to heritage, including Denison Hall, publicly released
20 September 2019Request approved by CEO, with time limit of 10 minutes
24 September 2019Irwin Shire Council meeting, with 40+ people in the public gallery, following issues dealt with:
·        Public question time – 19 questions, most about the Hall
·        Presentation made, “Denison Hall Has a Future”
·        Shire budget for 2019/20 adopted – includes $30,000 for demolition of Denison Hall
·        IDHS Petition – 106 signatures excluded - all 3 questions rejected – vote 4-4, only carried by Shire President’s casting vote
·        DPFA Proposal to lease the Hall, pay for maintenance and adaptation works – rejected 5-3
27 September 2019DPFA begins petition for Special General Meeting of Electors to consider all the issues around the Hall
30 September 2019IDHS Media Release – outcomes from Shire Council meeting, says battle is not over yet
2 October 2019Media Release published in The Rag
2 October 2019IDHS submits formal request to the Heritage Council of WA for a Protection Order over the Hall, to provide time to consider the MOFATS concept and develop options
3 October 2019IDHS forwards copy of its request to Shire CEO for information
4 October 2019Special Issue of The Sea Lion, focused on Denison Hall matters
4 October 2019IDHS advised that Heritage Council will consider its request for a Protection Order on 11 October; Shire also advised (before IDHS)
8 October 2019Rumours spread that demolition works will commence the next day
8 October 2019DPFA submits petition for electors meeting, signed by over 330 electors
9 October 2019IDHS submits request to Heritage Council to make a presentation when it considers the request for a Protection Order
9 October 2019Before dawn, citizens park vehicles around the Hall to prevent access by demolishers; after sunrise, security fencing erected around Hall grounds and vehicles; electricity disconnected; early afternoon the Police arrange a meeting to advise citizens, DPFA, IDHS to remove vehicles and that anyone attempting to enter the fenced area will be arrested; multiple phone calls to Heritage Council to advise them of the situation; citizens go to Shire Office, ask to see demolition permit, advised not yet finalised; private security guards patrolling fenced area.
9 October 2019DPFA submits formal request to the Heritage Council of WA for a Protection Order over the Hall
9 October 2019The Rag published, with notice from Shire that “dismantling works will commence shortly” and will take 2 weeks; media stories appear on ABC Midwest online; contacts made with various MPs offices
10 October 2019Citizens gather outside the fenced area from 5:30am; demolition crews arrive 7am, citizens attempt to block entry; security guards and later police watch from inside fence; removal of internal fittings and wall linings commences; more phone calls to Heritage Council to advise them demolition has commenced before they have had time to consider the protection order request; demolition work continues. By end of day, interiors gutted, external verandah removed; notice received from Shire that a demolition permit has been obtained from City of Greater Geraldton
10 October 2019IDHS website receives over 570 hits in past 7 days
11 October 2019Demolition continues with removal of roofing iron and then brick cladding; lunch time, Heritage Council advises IDHS that Protection Order will not be made, but it is ‘encouraging’ the Shire to provide more time to look at other options; Heritage Council advises Shire of its decision before it advises IDHS; demolition continues unabated, by end of day most of brick cladding removed, 1894 timber frame emerges.
12 October 2019Demolition continues, by end of day only the 1894 timber frame remains standing.
14 October 2019Demolition of 1894 timber frame; by end of day only floor pad and rubble remains.
14 October 2019“Wrecking Ball” article on the demolition published in Midwest Times
15 October 20198:30am, DPFA time capsule recovered from beneath 1939 dance floor; no structure still standing; by end of day all of floor pad had been removed and site completely cleared. Building materials dumped at Dongara Tip.
16 October 2019Heritage Council advises IDHS that it also rejected nominations, made by IDHS 10 years ago, for heritage listing of the Hall, the three jetty sites and all the Port Denison Moreton Bay and Port Jackson Figs – at the same meeting at which it rejected the request for a Protection Order; security fencing around the Hall site removed.
19 October 2019Irwin Shire Council elections held
21 October 2019Written responses to public questions from 24 September meeting released by Irwin Shire Council.
21 October 2019IDHS posts Heritage Council response on Dongara Denison Noticeboard Facebook page
23 October 2019Final media release by IDHS on Denison Hall and Heritage Council response published in The Rag


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