Nick and Meredith Denis and John Stretton want to see the old Murwillumbah toilet block used as a working toilet again. But many people have other ideas.
Nick and Meredith Denis and John Stretton want to see the old Murwillumbah toilet block used as a working toilet again. But many people have other ideas. Nolan Verheij-Full

Flush with ideas for art deco dunny

ITS days as a dunny are doomed.

Equal access laws dictate that the closed toilet in Murwillumbah’s Queen St will never again do the job it was designed for – despite a strong popular vote to retain it as a public convenience.

Tweed council is to call for expressions of interest in the art deco building – but may have trouble divorcing it from its historical function.

“It’s a bit of an icon,” said local Ken O’Grady. “If they’re going to do it up and not use it – well that’s a sh**house idea, isn’t it?”

Most respondents to Mayor Gary Bagnall’s Facebook request for ideas for the heritage-listed building agreed.

Zoey Devine counselled the mayor: “There should be more public toilets around in general. I refuse to use the ones in the park as they are completely disgusting. And the other one is so far away …”

But, with the toilet decommissioned, “it really has to have a function”, Mr O’Grady said.

“Let’s make it a restaurant, make it something to look at. It’s got a flat roof, they could put tables out on that.”

That’s the second-most popular choice.

Suzie Lockhart said the old block would make “a cute little coffee shop. It even has a little terrace out the front”.

Other suggestions have a social purpose, including a play centre, a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

“What about a garden for dedication to someone?” one person asked.

Eric from the Caldera Environmental Centre, which faces the loo, told the Tweed Daily News it could become a tiny art gallery, or a place to display council notices.

Michael Simmons reckons it would make a great information kiosk and base for walks in Murwillumbah, and for events such as the Foodie Fest.

Murwillumbah District Business Chamber president Toni Zuschke agrees that it should be converted to an information centre, or a studio with an artist in residence.

Despite its modest size and current grubby look, the toilet still stirs memories and emotions. One woman said its decommissioning was “heart-breaking …another part of history lost” and another praised it for its “charm”.

“It epitomises M’bah in its heyday,” said Julie Firkins.



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