June 28, 2019
The rollercoaster ride that has marked the recent history of the former DPI Forestry workshop in Yarraman ended in smiles on Friday with the official opening of the new Yarraman Men’s Shed.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Director (Forestry) Barry Underhill said the building became surplus to State Government requirements in 2010 when the nearby Yarraman forestry was sold to a new owner.
At one point, the government had proposed to knock down the building and convert the site into the new Yarraman Fire Station.
However, there was a push from the Yarraman community to preserve the facility and to put it to good use as a men’s shed.
Eventually, another site for the fire station was selected (work on this facility is due to begin during the 2019-20 financial year) and after years of uncertainty, ownership of the old Forestry workshop was transferred to the Yarraman & District Historical Society.
This followed lobbying by local MP Deb Frecklington and months of negotiations by Historical Society president Helene Johnson.
The Historical Society, in turn, has leased the facility to the Yarraman Men’s Shed.
“It’s been a long and winding journey, but we got there in the end,” Mr Underhill said.
Yarraman Men’s Shed president Kerry Wyvill said the opening of the Men’s Shed was “one of the best things to have ever happened in Yarraman”.
A big crowd turned out on Friday for the official opening by Mrs Frecklington and to enjoy a sausage sizzle lunch.
Mr Wyvill said there were many people who should be thanked for their help, but he especially singled out those who had donated equipment for the Men’s Shed and his Steering Committee who had worked very hard on the project.
Australian Men’s Shed Association Board member Len Thomson officially welcomed the Yarraman group into “the Men’s Shed world”.
He said the movement was primarily about men’s health.
“You will be amazed what you can get out of it,” he said.
Toowoomba councillor Geoff McDonald said it had been terrific to see the State Government work directly with a community group to achieve an outcome rather than go through council.
He congratulated the group on what they had achieved.
Other speakers at the opening included police, former DPI Forestry workers and representatives from the Tarong Community Benefit Fund and Bendigo Bank. Both these organisations have supported the project with community grants.
Mrs Frecklington said it was a very exciting day.
“To Helene and your team … thank you for fighting the good fight!” she said.
“It has been a long haul for our Yarraman men who have fought for more than two years to secure this facility.
“I was so pleased to support the group from the beginning to help them make this dream a reality.
“It was absolutely crazy the government would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to tear down a perfectly good building.”