An ‘eye-catching’ 12-storey hotel to be built in South Australia’s stunning Barossa Valley has re-opened the sometimes acrimonious debate about just what sort of development should be allowed in Australia’s magnificent countryside.
Complicating the issue is the fact that beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder … and that time can be a great healer. After all, Australia’s most iconic building, the Sydney Opera House, hardly had people dancing in the streets when the designs were first unveiled.
And sometimes views can be skewed by economic arguments. After all, in these challenging times, what is the price of progress?
The $50 million Oscar luxury hotel, which is earmarked to be built near Seppeltsfield winery, is expected to open in 2022. Intro Architecture’s multistorey development – which is currently before Light Regional Council’s assessment panel – would feature 71 rooms with private balconies, a sky bar and an infinity pool.
The Seppeltsfield area is well known for its views … and not all locals are thrilled about the proposal, despite the fact it would create hundreds of jobs.
Tracy Collins of the Taming Oscar committee says it simply doesn’t fit in.
“It is purely the magnitude, the height, the fact that it doesn’t sit cohesively within the landscape, it isn’t sensitive to nature,” she told the media. “People come from the city with big skyscrapers and high rises and come to the Barossa because they don’t see that.”
Veteran grey nomads however have become used to seeing the landscape change. Giant mining operations have had a huge impact in some areas, wind farms have popped up in the Outback, and bitumen roads have changed the character of many areas forever.
On a smaller scale, travellers have seen the emergence of thong trees, dressed termite mounds, and all sorts of strange rusty metal sculptures.
All of these ‘additions’ have divided opinion. One person’s masterpiece is another person’s eyesore. To some, the rolling green hills should forever be the dominant feature of the Barossa Valley. Others though are more pragmatic.
They say the hotels we build today may one day be viewed in the same revered way as we currently look at the inscriptions carved into the Dig Tree by Burke and Wills.