Brief History of Noosa Men’s Shed

Les MacKenzie came to Noosa district from Gladstone where he had been a shed member. In February 2014, he placed an article in the local paper seeking expressions of interest in the formation of a shed. Responses were invited by phone and the results were encouraging. Les and a neighbor, Owen Curtis, talked to community groups about support.

By April, it was clear there was enough interest and prospective members received an unofficial newsletter advising there were two Rotary clubs willing to support a shed start-up. It was the Rotary club of Noosa Heads, led by Tess Alexandroff, that stepped up to provide support for an initial meeting and provide access to temporary banking facilities.

On the 17th June, a founding meeting was held at the Salvation Army hall in Bartlett Street and attracted 35 people. An executive was appointed and was requested to do all things necessary to incorporate and progress the shed’s establishment. The office bearers appointed were Peter Magarry, President, Ian Broadfoot, Secretary and Noel Young, Treasurer. Noel Young lodged the application for incorporation as an Association operating under the guidelines and control of the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.

Shortly after commencement, Noel Young withdrew from the executive team and was replaced by Ray McEwan. Ray’s wife, Margaret, an experienced club treasurer, provided invaluable support to the new group.

The new organization set about the task of finding a home. A number of locations were evaluated and the most likely early prospect was a potential sublease of a Sunshine Coast Council owned site occupied by the House with no Steps charity at Doonan. Noosa Men’s Shed went as far as to convert a disused house on the site for shed purposes but arrangements with NWNS were never formalized and there was concern that the location was too far from Noosa to be successful in the longer term.

It was welcome news when councilor Joe Juresivic advised that Noosa Council’s CEO had been in discussion with the CEO of Unity Water and made arrangements for NMS to be offered the use of the site it now occupies. Unity water’s property manager, Greg Barnett, arranged for the group to inspect what had formerly been the site of Noosa Council’s water treatment works. Use of the site had been discontinued some years previous. Facilities remaining on the site were a small brick building that had been a laboratory, an even smaller brick structure that had been the location of a chlorine injection system and a partially useable road network.
Although next to the current sewage treatment plant, operated by Unity Water’s contractor, Suez, NMS was excited by the prospect of being able to build a base so well located to the population centre. Arrangements were made to secure a Shared Permit to Occupy for a period of two five year terms. This has now been rolled forward for a further term.

NMS undertook to keep the site clean, tidy and useful and to facilitate UnityWater’s access at all times while restricting use to the conduct of a men’s shed. The arrangement has been hugely beneficial and is the underpinning of the groups successful growth to service over 220 members (as of 2019).
Apart from ensuring the removal of asbestos which was funded and carried out by UnityWater, the shed has been allowed to flourish independently with comprehensive support and ready approval of the UnityWater organization. Noosa Council and numerous local businesses have been keen, loyal, supporters.

Some of the shed milestones in the first five years were :-

  • redevelopment of the gardens, landscaping and extension of the road network,
  • refurbishment of the laboratory, initially as club rooms and now as a hobby building,
  • conversion of the chlorine building into a wood workshop ( three stages),
  • construction of the metal shed, two stages, (aided by the Qld Community Fund),
  • building of the Studio inspired by the donation of a carport roof from the Catholic Church,
  • erection of the ‘Long Shed’ following a donation of a kit building by the Australian Army,
  • setting up of the honey bee and native bee production systems,
  • construction of the Cobber’s building, the honey and aquaculture facilities, the paint and electrican’s buildings.

Noosa Rotary Club has also been assisted with the positioning and painting of two shipping containers that are used by Rotary to store hospital equipment for shed refurbishment and subsequent shipping to needy countries.

There is more development to come! One desirable addition being planned is a Men’s Health Annex.

The NMS provides a hugely worthwhile service to the community and older men in particular. Members take many opportunities to give something back through their participation as volunteers at community events.

Presidents Roll

  • Peter Magarry
  • John Williams
  • Paul Asbury
  • Joe Cirillo.

August 2019