It's taken less than a week for demolition crews to flatten the golden curves of the old McDonalds site at Nambucca Heads.
Demolition of the site officially began last Tuesday to clean the slate for the construction of the new multi-million dollar TAFE NSW Connected Learning Centre (CLC).
The pace of change has knocked more than a few locals for six, with many left scratching their heads at the perceived wastefulness of building a brand new building instead of repurposing the old one.
But TAFE NSW Investment Program Manager for the North Region Tom Ryan has said there was really no other way around it.
"At this new Connected Learning Centre, we won't be training people to work at Maccas," he said.
He said while the McDonalds restaurant had been tailored with precision to cater to the needs of that business, the structural elements of the building design - like long kitchen galleys - did not fit with the flexible and digital learning space requirements of the CLCs.
The new building will have a footprint more than twice the size of the old Maccas, at some 700m squared.
It will comprise up to eight individual classrooms with two touchscreen LCD televisions in each to remotely connect students learning the same courses in campuses throughout regional NSW via a digital conference-style model.
An on-site administrator will be on deck to hand out any physical materials needed during the class.
"We had a course recently where a group of students learned to make bread. Each student was in a different part of the state, but all learning together," Mr Ryan said.
He said the nature of this type of digital learning means more courses can be offered in the Nambucca Valley, with their availability no longer reliant on local enrolment numbers.
"It's possible to have just one or two students from Nambucca studying one of the 50 or so courses now available at Connected Learning Centres," he said.
He also said this format of learning pairs perfectly with COVID-19 social distancing requirements.
The new Nambucca CLC will also house computer hubs, and both internal and external communal learning spaces.
And a rotating roster of 'learning caravans' called Mobile Training Units will park up outside the facility each semester, bringing mobile commercial kitchens, hairdressing salons, or mechanics workshops for students to work through the practical components of their courses.
Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey visited the site today to turn the first sod.
"I'm excited to announce that work is underway for this state-of-the-art campus, which will open up new education and training opportunities in Nambucca Heads and provide students with access to in-demand courses, expert teachers and support services," Ms Pavey said.
"This is the first ever TAFE NSW presence in the Nambucca Heads community, and I look forward to seeing local students take advantage of the incredible facility once it opens its doors next year.
"The brand new facility is what local students deserve - and will be built near Nambucca Plaza, in close proximity to local employers, by local business Lahey Constructions."
Kempsey-based Lahey Constructions has engaged with local subcontractors for this project.
"Of the 12 workers we've had on site so far, all are from the Nambucca region and three are Indigenous," Lahey Construction and Services Manager Matt Fearnley said.
He said it was a "win-win" scenario; most people prefer to work closer to home, and locals are usually more invested in the project because they get to see firsthand the benefits it brings to their local community.
The disused McDonalds drive-thru restaurant now lies in three piles - aluminium, structural steel and concrete rubble - which Mr Fearnley said are being carefully sorted for recycling.
"Out of this site, we'll probably only see two to three loads of rubbish be carted away," he said.
"And that will be made up of materials we can't recycle like ducting."
Cr Janine Reed was also at the sod-turning this morning and said she was excited to see this project begin.
She said this facility will help position the Nambucca Valley for the future, at a time when Australia is rediscovering the value of manufacturing.
She also said she believes the increased potential for local trade skills development will perfectly complement the council's Valla Urban Growth Area plans.
According to Mr Ryan, if all goes well, we could see a ribbon cutting ceremony this time next year.