November 2, 2017
Former members of the Kingaroy Apex Club will be gathering on Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Kingaroy Senior Citizens Centre – a project they initiated and saw through to completion.
The Apex Club of Kingaroy was formed in 1954 and one of its first community projects was the construction of the Kingaroy Kindergarten in Glendon Street in 1956.
In 1973, when the State Government began a program of pre-school construction, the club offered the kindergarten to the Department of Education in exchange for $6653 compensation.
The next year, the Apexians decided to use this money as the nucleus of a fund, along with Federal and State government funding, to construct a senior citizens’ centre in Kingaroy.
The proposed site was the disused Kingaroy Shire Council pound on the corner of Avoca and Kingaroy streets; it was envisaged the largely flood-prone, boggy and overgrown land would be donated by Council.
The project was set in motion through the drive of club member John “Pickles” Harvey, assisted by a committee of Apexians.
Proposed facilities and services at the centre would include a commercial-size kitchen for Meals on Wheels, an operations base for Blue Nurses, chiropody and therapy rooms, a library, games room, auditorium, and office for a future welfare officer, all of which would be available to anyone over 50 years of age in Kingaroy and district.
Planned outdoor facilities included chess board, garden setting, picnic and barbecue amenities for use by the wider community in landscaped parklands with more than 1000 shade trees and shrubs and concrete walkways throughout the two acre site.
Conditions for government contributions included the forming of a Senior Citizens’ Club and a management committee to oversee the operations of the centre.
The committees were the result of separate public meetings called for the purpose. As a result, a group of community and business leaders, and representatives of the wider community of senior citizens, was elected along with representative of Meals on Wheels and the Apex Club of Kingaroy.
They formed the inaugural Kingaroy and District Senior Citizens’ Welfare Committee.
The president was Peter Real, secretary / treasurer Bob Coleman (Apex) and members Mrs I. Kamholtz, Mr F. Hodgkinson, Mrs N. Woltmann, Mr A. Knowles, Mrs P. Hansen, Mrs F. Martin and Mr B. More.
The Apex Club instigated the project and organised the fundraising, but the construction was actually overseen by the new Kingaroy and District Senior Citizens’ Welfare Committee.
The 37 Apex members at the time worked to raise one-sixth of the project costs by running cabarets, raffles, an art union for a colour TV, a white elephant auction and a very successful air pageant at Kingaroy Airport.
The project included the creation of a lake on the existing natural watercourse through the site; the spoil removed was used to raise the ground level of the building site 1.7m, well above recorded flood levels.
Kingaroy Shire Council made considerable contributions to the project. In November 1975, Council began earthworks on the site, excavating the lake and incorporating two islands to attract wildlife and waterfowl.
They also did other preparations for the building construction, including forming and sealing the dirt track between Kingaroy Street and Pound Street (now part of Avoca Street).
Due to the size of the lake possibly creating erosion of the banks from wave action, Apex members stone-pitched a one metre wide strip from the top of the banks to below the waterline around the whole lake and two islands to prevent erosion.
The granite rock was sourced from the old Kingaroy Council quarry near Wooroolin with many trips undertaken over the following months by Apexians in trucks and utes.
By late December 1975, 500 man hours of stone-pitching work had been done by the Apexians, often starting at 5:00am on weekdays and weekends as well as working under floodlights some nights in an effort to complete the stone-pitching before seasonal heavy storms filled the lake.
The ongoing curiosity of passers-by who inquired about the “big hole in the ground” was replaced by great enthusiasm and approval once the purpose was finally revealed.
By July 1976, Apex had spent $20,000 and taken out a seven-year loan for a further $20,000.
Although concept drawings and consultation with Brisbane architect Graham Burke began in September 1975, final design, tendering, and government funding-related approval processes meant it was not until September 1976 that a tender for $186,000 by Kingaroy builder Mr Tom Tuite for construction of the Centre was approved by Queensland Health and Public Works Departments.
The contract was signed on a Sunday and work began the following day.
Construction was anticipated to be completed by March 1977 but due to industrial action affecting the delivery of building materials, this was delayed some months.
The main steel portal building frame was pre-fabricated but the the steel wall and partition framing was a new concept and not pre-fab. It had to be cut to size, welded and assembled on site by Tom Tuite’s crew.
Fundraising continued, not only for the centre construction, but for furniture, fittings, and landscaping which were not part of the government funding.
Generous contributions were received from various organisations and individuals across the wider South Burnett area including Kingaroy Lions, Kingaroy Rotary, Apex Club of Kumbia, Kingaroy Christmas Carnival committee, and the Senior Citizens’ Club.
In April 1977, an ambitious project by Apex to run an Air Pageant on the Anzac Day weekend was an overwhelming success with 3200 attending and $11,000 raised for the Centre.
Kingaroy Senior Citizens Club also launched an appeal to raise $10,000 for furnishings and equipment.
In September 1977, the secretary of the Kingaroy and District Senior Citizens Management Committee, Apex Life Member Trevor Dickson, confirmed the Governor of Queensland Sir James Ramsay would open the centre on November 5.
By this time, Apex members had spent 3600 man-hours of work on site and another 5000 on fundraising activities to finance the project.
On Saturday, November 5, the Kingaroy and District Senior Citizens Centre was officially opened by Queensland Governor Sir James Ramsay.
Member for Barambah, Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, welcomed Sir James and Lady Ramsay to Kingaroy.
The total cost of the project, including the building and landscaping, was $242,000, of which the Apex Club’s contribution was $41,000, State Government $67,000, and Federal Government contribution $134,000.
[Information from former Apexian Darryl Dove]