Burnie’s transformation from a seaside port village into a booming paper town was realised by a group of optimistic entrepreneurs in the early 1900’s. New Zealander, Sir Gerald Mussen (1872 – 1960), pursued a grand vision to build a pulp and paper mill in Burnie, using eucalypt pulp. After decades of setbacks, the first paper rolled off the machine at Burnie’s Pulp and Paper Mill in August, 1938.
Seventy five years later in 2010, with increasing global demands and the need to replace aging machines, Burnie’s Paper Mill produced its last roll of paper, and the factory was subsequently de-commissioned.
But paper is still made in Burnie today...
From the passion and commitment of those involved in the paper industry, a new venture emerged in the early 1990’s.
Retired Australian Pulp and Paper Mill (APPM) Research Manager and paper chemist Charles Turner had a passion for handmade paper and recycyling, and a vision to establish a cottage industry on the grounds of APPM. With the help of State and Federal grants, and the instrumental support of Jane Tanner (now Teniswood) of Community Training and Education Centres (CTEC), Creative Living Centre (CLC) was formed and from that Creative Paper Mill (CPM) was established, with a focus on working with disadvantaged and “at risk” young people.
After demonstrating paper making at the 1993 official opening of CLC, Charles Turner persuaded the then Mill Manager, Lachlan McLean to provide facilities and services at the East Mill. This enabled Creative Paper Mill to develop into a boutique industry right on the grounds of APPM.
In May 1995 Creative Paper Mill was opened on the East Mill site, Old Surrey Road, as a boutique paper factory. Under the guidance of young paper artist Helen White (now Perry), a team of people from the New Work Opportunities Program commenced producing handmade paper for sale, with a focus on producing folders, business stationery and conference material.
A state government grant in late 2000 and the use of Work for the Dole clients, Creative Paper Mill was renovated enabling the upgraded facilities to open its doors to the public, with a new focus on paper making tours, a gallery gift shop, and a new tourist destination for visitors to Burnie.
Creative Paper Mill continued its operations, but under mounting financial challenges. Discussion began in 2002 for Burnie City Council to take over the running of this significant tourism attraction. In 2003 a new look Creative Paper Tasmania was unveiled, with a new brand and an emphasis on commercial operations. One new product development that took the world by storm was the development of Roo Poo™ paper and products.
Burnie was privileged to host the 2009 International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA) Congress, with the convener Creative Paper able to show to the world the passion and creativity of the North West of Tasmania for paper as an art form. It was a perfect opportunity for Creative Paper to launch its new range of Wombat Poo papers and products.
Under Burnie City Council management, Creative Paper was poised to relocate to a refurbished Burnie High School located on the waterfront, when the building devastatingly burnt down weeks from opening in April 2007. This led Burnie City Council to re-evaluate its tourism facilities and focus on a new, exciting direction.
Makers’ Workshop rose from the ashes, opening in November 2009 as Burnie’s premier tourism and interpretation centre dedicated to Burnie’s art, history and of course paper, with Creative Paper Tasmania now part of the building.
Creative Paper Tasmania today exports around Australia and the world from its boutique factory, continuing to produce a high quality range of paper and products. Through its enlightening Paper Tour Experience you can learn the science and art behind a product that is used in everyday life, and try your hand at making your own.
One of the original members of the New Work Opportunities Program from 1995 is still with Creative Paper Tasmania today; Darren Simpson as Senior Papermaker has spent 20 years supporting the evolution of Creative Paper to the premier tourist attraction it is today.