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Community Spirit

The Beagle Editor, It’s twelve months since the bushfires of last year and the surge of community spirit that rose so spontaneously and organically. Ruminating on that community spirit led to a contemplation on how the community has changed since we first arrived here to grow a family way back in the mid 80’s. It was an unusual time with so many young families moving to Tuross during that decade. The Kyla Hall, the tennis courts, the Golf Club and the Clover Club had been built by the Tuross community through volunteer labour and fund raising. In those days council helped with applications for grants to bridge any gaps between money required and funds raised. We had the best oval in the shire and beyond, due to a local cricket fanatic who laid a turf wicket and lovingly tended it and, like the movie, he built it and they came. Volunteer labour had installed a drainage system that made Kyla Oval one of the best drained ovals around. We had a rugby team made up of firsts, reserves and under sixteens. A first and reserve grade cricket team. The tennis club was large and vigorous with their newly laid tennis courts, the equal of anything you could find outside of an international tennis arena. There was a Physie group of enthusiastic mothers and daughters. Let me see, there was a local playgroup where the village mothers and their babies got together of their own accord. There was a scouting group, sailing club, fishing club and more… many I can’t remember haha. The hub of all this was the newly minted, community built, Kyla Hall. All the clubs met there and talked about how they were going and what they wanted to do. The various representatives from the Progress Association, the cricket club, the sailing club, the rugby club, the Physie club et al. would meet and consider requests from various sporting and social organisations, both local and from elsewhere, for the use of our facilities. This hall committee would set the fees, arrange the bookings, look after the cleaning and maintenance and so forth and so on. The facilities were in constant use. We had a local touch football competition which included Turlingah, Bodalla, Congo, Bergalia and even, occasionally, from Moruya and Narooma. Well over one hundred players, around one hundred and forty or so I seem to recall. We had rep teams going to the Narooma and Moruya competitions to compete. It was a place and time where everyone met and met up with and ran into each other a lot. There was the Friday afternoon BBQ for families at the new and wonderful golf club. A lot of families would all meet for a feed and a beer after work every Friday afternoon and while the parents caught up, the kids would be playing on the greens with golf clubs and balls or just rolling in the grass. The next morning those parents and kids learnt the dark art of golf from a couple of local golfers for $5 a year. Great times, great memories at an extraordinary time where the spirit of the community was palpable. Where those kids who grew up here at that time, and there were a lot of kids, they are be able to truly say “I’ve known so and so since we were babies” and there are a lot of grown adults from here who can say that. Even though they may only meet up at Christmas time, they really make a point of finding each other. Back then I remember wondering how far this could go and how long it could last and what sort of a Tuross would it be in 30 to 40 years, given how it was running along now. As it turned out – the council took over the running of the hall and it was used less and less. The tennis chugs along at a much slower tempo and the courts are no longer anywhere near what they once were. The touch football died and that community attachment was lost. The Physie club is no more. The Clover Club became derelict and was pulled down by council. The hall fell into dis-repair and was condemned and left derelict for years and years. The Rugby Club is no more, the cricket club still has a first grade team most years, the playgroup is no more, I think they were trying to start a playgroup recently and I don’t think we have a scouting group anymore. There’s probably a yacht club still, although it’s not often you see much racing on the lake. The hall was finally repaired by council when they decided to tear down the historic Tuross Progress Association Hall and needed to have a functioning hall for the Progress Association to hold their meetings. Funny thing - local builders estimated the cost of repairs to the original community built hall to be somewhere south of $200K for a job the council charged the community somewhere north of $380K to make good a dereliction of their making. I was pretty out with my predictive ability however I now understand the difference a hub makes. But then again……back then…..the council was a much smaller operation run by a shire clerk. Michael Johnson Tuross Head

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