If taxi driver Bill Talevski was a multimillionaire, he would have kept the stack and paid for its upkeep.
Unfortunately for him, no amount of wishing could keep the chimney from falling and, after much delay, Port Kembla’s icon turned into a cloud of dust yesterday morning.
Personal chauffeur to Port Kembla’s Rogan family, Mr Talevski drove the family from the exclusion zone straight to the evacuation centre at Port Kembla Leagues Club.
A few people were milling around at 8am but by mid-morning, crowds had gathered at viewing points outside the club, leaving the evacuation centre almost empty.
As he waited for the demolition, Mr Talevski could barely contain his emotions.
‘‘I’ve been so proud to have the chimney at Port Kembla,’’ he said.
‘‘Once I met someone at the Greek islands and they didn’t know where Wollongong was but they knew Port Kembla because of the chimney.
‘‘Tomorrow, 99.9per cent of people will miss the chimney, whatever they say now.’’
His passenger, Judith Rogan, disagreed.
‘‘We saw it being built and when they topped it with the helicopter, so it’s a bit sad,’’ she said.
‘‘But it’s the stack’s time to go.’’
Family members John and Maureen Rogan were also nonchalant.
‘‘It makes no difference to me, I saw the old brick one being pulled down and I’ll see this one being pulled down,’’ Mr Rogan said.
After the stack came down, the Illawarra Mercury caught up with the devastated Mr Talevski.
‘‘My heart is still bleeding, I can’t understand, why would anybody do that?’’ he said.