The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Engineer leaves a legacy


The work of David Eltringham has left an indelible mark on the regional city of Horsham.

Originally moving to the Wimmera from Mildura for a five-year tenure, the long-time Horsham Rural City Council technical services manager and his wife Julie are preparing to return to the Sunraysia region next month — 28 years later, with fond memories, friendship­s and a powerful community legacy.

The engineer’s work with the council has become a staple of the city, and region’s landscape — headlined, he says, with redevelopm­ents of Firebrace and Darlot streets, developmen­t of Roberts Place and an intermodal freight terminal at Dooen, relocation of the livestock exchange, securing a 40-year waste disposal facility at Dooen and forming the wetlands area of the Wimmera River near the weir.

“When I think back to 1995, there are two or three things that stick out. Firebrace Street was mess, an absolute mess. It was liquorice up the top with powerlines, the drainage was unbelievab­ly bad and the whole area of the street was a bit like Darlot Street before we started on that — with multiple lanes of traffic,” he said.

“I think it was an adaptation of what was there in the buloke times.

“The commission­ers and the first council agreed that we would start at Hamilton Street and once we got through the first block, people liked it and so we were able to keep going.”

Across several years, block by block, Firebrace Street transforme­d — including moving services undergroun­d.

A major intersecti­on at Pynsent Street was redesigned to enable the now roundabout entrance to Horsham Plaza; while an ‘enlighteni­ng’ of Roberts Place now includes a mini-pedestrian­ised area with alfresco dining.

Mr Eltringham said retaining a tree, opposite Coles supermarke­t, was important — being the last of an original war memorial drive plantation in Horsham, and the first of its kind in Australia. A sign on the tree still tells its story. Roberts Avenue was once known as Splatt Street but was renamed to honour the contributi­on of General Roberts to the Boer War.

Mr Eltringham said relocation of the livestock exchange from the Hamilton Street area to Burnt Creek had enabled Horsham to grow.

“We couldn’t keep developing Horsham — it wasn’t developing — because of the Thursday aroma. It was unbelievab­le,” he said.

Then local MP Bill Mcgrath advocated to the government of the day to purchase the livestock exchange land and with the money of the sale, the council purchased land at Burnt Creek.

A condition of the arrangemen­t was to develop land between Hamilton Street and Horsham Botanic Gardens into one-third each of residentia­l, commercial, and services and public open space.


Mr Eltringham started his career with the Country Roads Board, going on to work across seven municipali­ties of local government.

He retired from Horsham council in 2013 and received an Order of Australia Medal for his service to engineerin­g in the field of infrastruc­ture and planning, and to the community, in 2014.

His passion for community has long continued with involvemen­t in organisati­ons including Tidy Towns, Horsham RSL and the Country Fire Authority.

It was during his involvemen­t with the RSL that a significan­t change occurred to Horsham’s war memorial — relocating it to Sawyer Park from near Horsham’s War Memorial Swimming Pool.

He said including the New Zealand national anthem — the first service in Australia to do so — from the early 2000s was also an ‘obvious’ change.

“The first time it happened, unbeknowns­t to me, there was a platoon of New Zealand soldiers in attendance at that dawn service who were rock climbing at Mt Arapiles and they were overwhelme­d with what they’d heard here in Horsham,” he said.

Horsham won the national Tidy Towns award in 2001 and went on to secure several state awards under the leadership of the late Don Johns.

Mr Eltringham’s advocacy of and passion for Tidy Towns continues, though he suspects the committee’s functions may change into the future with an ageing membership; while he will continue to ‘work from home’ with his secretaria­l duties for the CFA.


Mr Eltringham said not securing a ‘line on the map’ for a bypass of Horsham was a ‘huge disappoint­ment’ of his time in Horsham — profession­ally and personally.

He implored the future council and decision makers to make a decision for the betterment of the community and travellers through the region.

“I spent a lot of time working with the then Country Roads Board, and in the location of major facilities, and we would design things back in the 1960s and ’70s — freeways like the Hume Highway bypass of Seymour and Wangaratta — and we would design them knowing they probably wouldn’t be built for 15 or 20 years, but the line was on the plan so people knew what they were doing,” he said.

“It won’t kill the town, it will make the town, because it shows with those cities where the bypass has occurred — Wangaratta, Benalla, Seymour, Ballarat ... we don’t make our living here in Horsham selling ice-creams.”

The council hosted various public meetings, during his tenure, and almost reached the point of agreement on two locations.

“At the moment, if you built it you might go through 10 houses and 10 chook sheds; but wait another 10 to 15 years and you will be going through 20 houses and 20 chook sheds,” he said.

“People will be disadvanta­ged, but they will have 10 years to sort their lot out.

“And I say that reservedly — it will take 10 years from when the line is agreed on by the time the government get the road reserve, then the design, the money and the actual works done. Ten years is an absolute minimum — unless, unfortunat­ely, if there’s a tragedy in town, which could happen at any time, then we’ll see action.”


Mr Eltringham said relocating to Mildura — the opposite choice of many expats of Horsham, who relocated to what he calls ‘Horsham South’, more commonly known as Port Fairy — came with mixed feelings.

“I’ve been here about a third of my life,” he said.

“It’s been a wonderful 28 years. We’ve met some wonderful people and had some wonderful times and the 28 years have been years of achievemen­t.

“Now I’ve turned 80 I need to rearrange my life a bit.

“We will be off towards the end of February and a lot to do between now and then.”

 ?? ?? MIXED FEELINGS: David Eltringham is leaving after 28 years in Horsham. He worked for Horsham Rural City Council for much of his time. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
MIXED FEELINGS: David Eltringham is leaving after 28 years in Horsham. He worked for Horsham Rural City Council for much of his time. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

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