THE Bermagui Wallaga Men’s Shed is powering ahead with new members and lots of projects, while the efforts to build a men’s shed in Narooma continue to languish.
Perhaps no one is more frustrated with the stalemate than the Narooma Lions Club men’s shed committee, which is leading the charge to have a shed built.
Committee member Rob Atkinson said despite a proactive push by the State Government to free up Crown lands for men’s shed projects around the State, a site had not yet been located in Narooma.
This despite the fact that committee was still holding grant funds of $45,000 from the State Government and $10,000 from the IMB Building Society community fund.
Acting Premier Andrew Stoner earlier this year said the NSW Government would free-up access to crown-owned facilities for the creation of more men’s sheds across the State.
“Today, there are 200 men’s sheds across NSW and this figure is set to grow in response to an historic agreement between the NSW Government and the Australian Men’s Shed Association,” Mr Stoner said.
The Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) provides a framework for acting on requests from the AMSA to establish a men’s shed on Crown land administered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Meanwhile, previous efforts to have space for a shed at either the Narooma Scout hall, IRT Dalmeny retirement village or the Catholic church had all failed for various reasons.
The three-member Lions Club shed committee, with the other members being club members John Glover and June Sheard, recently put an open letter in the Narooma News calling for council candidates to meet with them and suggest ideas.
So far the only candidate to contact them was Orit Karney-Winters, who met with Mr Atkinson and Mr Glover on Friday at the Narooma Golf Club to discuss potential solutions.
Mr Atkinson expressed his disappointment that any other council candidates or existing councillors had taken up the offer.
Eurobodalla Mayor Fergus Thomson said he was aware of the frustration and the failure to secure a site.
He said the first step for the Lion’s Club shed committee should be to sit down with the council planning staff to identify suitable Crown land sites within the Narooma township area.
Bermagui Wallaga shed success story
The Bermagui Wallaga Men’s Shed group continues to go from strength to strength at its location out at the Umbarra Cultural Centre adjacent to the Wallaga Lake Koori village.
The men’s shed group started out with grants from Uniting Care, while there had been other grants and donations, including from the Mathie family of Bodalla who donated a lathe and a mortising machine.
Dalmeny business Truss Plus also donated a series of trusses to allow a shelter to go over the barbecue area at Umbarra.
Group member John Robinson said since the group started 18 months ago, it had grown to 38 paid members and had even expanded to meeting on Tuesdays as well as the main meeting day of Thursday.
The shed had even attracted interest from Narooma with the Sir James at Dalmeny aged care facility sending out busloads of its residents to participate on several occasions.
Relations to the Aboriginal community were being strengthened with Wallaga elder Eric Naylor creating boomerangs in the shed, while also pushing to get more young Kooris involved.
Shed members meanwhile were now involved in maintaining the village grounds including around the cemetery, and most recently making shelves for the village community hall.
Other projects include putting netting over the Bermagui Public School veggie garden and cleaning up the Bruce Steer Pool area.
Interestingly, the group was hoping in the long-term to secure its own location on Crown land with the township of Bermagui, Mr Robinson said.
But even the Bega Men’s Shed group was having difficulty securing a location and while the Bega Valley Shire Council had facilitated a meeting space in the old hospital, the group had not been allowed to build a shed and was still meeting in member’s own sheds.
Mr Robinson had some advice for the Lion’s Club shed committee in Narooma.
“Push hard,” he said. “You’ve got to push and shove and grunt and groan or you won’t get anything.”