Video transcript: Rebuilding Mallacoota’s abalone plant after the bushfires

This story and associated images and/or video was produced before physical distancing regulations were introduced in Victoria.

[Vision: Mallacoota Boat Ramp Jetty sign - pelican swimming peacefully - sunrise over the waters and a man fishing - the Coop entrance - Australian Premium Wild Abalone Processor, Canner, Wholesaler & Exporter sign]

Geoff Ellis - Chairman, Mallacoota Abalone Ltd

The Coop was established about 50 years ago by a group of fishermen who thought they could do things a lot better if they united and worked together which it did.

Well it has a turnover of about 15 million, so for a little town that has under 1,000 people it’s a big player.

[Vision: Mallacoota shops - pedestrians entering and leaving shops and chatting with neighbours]

The biggest employer in town, it employs about eight full-timers, about 40 casuals.

When the Coop’s going well there’s money in the town, there’s a smile on people’s faces, and it seems to be a bit of a gauge, a barometer as to how the town’s going.

[Vision: Burnt out bush and aerial view of the factory burnt out - close up view of abalone shells on ground and burnt out building]

On the night the fire came through the back of the factory there was an intention to try and protect the factory, it’s a very important resource to the town, but the fire was that intense that the fire brigade retreated back into town to protect lives which is obviously far more important, and as a consequence of that unfortunately the factory burnt to the ground.

[Vision: Workmen working to clear site]

With the factory burning down it can mean jobs at stake, and it’s only about a workforce in Mallacoota of about 450, so we need to get it up and firing again.

[Vision: The Coop entrance]

We think it will be about $3 million to rebuild the factory.

We think there’ll be about $2 million to refit it.

[Vision: Geoff speaking - crates of abalone shells]

This is an opportunity to make something positive out of this, and for example those shells have always been a bit of a nuisance and a problem to us, and it costs us money to get rid of.

So when building the new factory we’re trying to develop a situation where we can crush the shells and turn it to fertiliser.

[Vision: Underwater view of abalone]

There’s also an opportunity for the guts out of the abalone, it’s a waste product, and we’re going to turn that into a product that will make some beautiful sauces that are very popular overseas.

[Vision: Pedestrians in main street of Mallacoota and dog waiting for its owner]

And the new factory will be bigger and better than ever, and I think that’s indicative for Mallacoota.

[Vision: Pelican preening itself - artwork on building at Mallacoota Wharf]

I think if we’re big and strong, I think that gives us a springboard for the town to survive and to thrive.

[Vision: Demolished houses but green leaves and flower starting to grow - man launching his boat and driving off]

There’s a lot of burnt houses, but every day the trees get a bit greener, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

[Vision: Distant view of waterways at Mallacoota]

[The Victorian Connection - people, communities & the economy. For more news and stories go to connection.vic.gov.au]

[Victoria State Government. Authorised by the Victorian Government, Melbourne]

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