The Rotary Club of Maleny History
The Early Years
The Club was Chartered in May 1959 with 20 charter members, the club meets at the Maleny Hotel, its original venue. Over its 42 years of service the Club has been involved in many local, district, national and international projects. The Rotary Club of Maleny born at the end of the fifties in an era of idyllic country living, dominated by dairy farming and all of the stress-free images this conjures. At the end of the 70s this “dreamtime” was changing as this Garden of Eden was discovered and the invasion from down south got underway.
The early eighties saw the membership of the Club increase significantly and the first Paul Harris Fellow was recognised. The ‘Country Day’ concept was introduced and became the major activity. Its prime thrust was to bring under-privileged city kids to Maleny to ‘enjoy all things country’. This period also saw the resurrection of the Exchange Student Program and the introduction of career guidance for school children. The Club even ran Rotary movie nights on a regular basis. By the mid eighties, the changing nature of the population and the increasing diversity of members’ backgrounds were taking root, widening the perspective and potential contribution of the Club. This led, in 1986, to the Club becoming instrumental in forming the Probus Club of Maleny. In the late eighties the Club was preoccupied with projects associated with the High School, Mary Cairncross Park and the Maleny Folk Festival (the progenitor of the Woodford Festival).
In 1991, the Club ‘adopted’ the Cedar Lodge at Erowal retirement village. 1992-93 was a big year with the realisation of the pedestrian bridge over the Obi Obi Creek. The year also featured the commencement of the Bike Education courses. At around this time, the gazebo and footpaths at Erowal were constructed and the planting of the riverside forest was completed. As it progressed into the nineties, the Club focussed on the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, Fellowship, fundraising and community service. A fatal accident at Witta in 1994 triggered a successful drive by the Club to raise funds for the ‘Jaws of Life’ and ancillary equipment for the Urban Fire Service in Maleny and the Accident Emergency Rescue Trailer for the Maleny SES.
In 1992/93, Rotary Club of Maleny arranged for the design, funding, engineering, construction and installation of a pedestrian bridge over the Obi Obi Creek linking the township to the Showgrounds via a “to be constructed” boardwalk. The bridge replaced an old log which was “unsafe”. A life was lost when a person slipped and drowned in the Obi Obi Creek. The boardwalk was completed by a local land care group and is now a “must see” point for visitors to the village. The Club also arranged for the repainting of the bridge in 1992 prior to the local Show. The bridge is used extensively by locals at Showtime and going for their daily “health” walk to and from the Showgrounds. It is known as “Rotary Bridge”.
A violent storm in 1994 prompted the establishment of a local disaster fund to provide immediate personal needs to families affected by unforeseen disasters. Funds from this initial disaster appeal plus residue funds from an appeal to purchase a ‘Jaws of Life’ for the local ambulance have enabled the setting up on an on-going disaster fund. Recent donations from this fund have included assistance to a Conondale resident whose house was totally destroyed by fire and a Maleny resident whose caravan residence suffered a similar fate. The Club provides funding on an annual basis to ensure the disaster fund remains solvent. The local Police OIC, the SES controller and the Rotary Club administer it.
Early in the establishment phase of the ‘Erowal’ Retirement Village at Maleny the Club became involved through the laying of concrete paths, the construction of a gazebo and planting of trees. In ‘adopting’ Cedar Lodge, one of the residential sections of the village, the Club has quarterly meetings (BBQ) there and also visits the residents on their birthday.
As the millennium approached, a breakthrough occurred with the induction of the Club’s first woman president, Sherryl Gregory. It was a very active year, which included the parenting and nurturing of the new Rotary Club of the Glasshouse Mountains. The year’s focus was on enhancing the profile of the Club in the community. In this context the Club was successful with Pride of Workmanship awards, business and professional nights, involvement with the Maleny Chamber of Commerce and the administration of the Maleny and District Disaster Fund, which had been set up in 1994 after a violent storm had earlier destroyed several houses.
In 1999-2000, the R.I. President’s message was to ‘act with consistency, credibility and continuity and have the courage to change’. The Maleny annual report in 2000 was studded with examples of how the Club took these to heart in a drive for teamwork and greater involvement of members in projects. It paid off. At the Gympie District Conference, Maleny won the Outstanding Club in District 9600 Award, the Service to Youth Award and the Vocational Service Award, the first time one Club had scooped the pool in one year.
The New Millennium
In 2000 $10,000 was donated to the Maleny Hospital to assist with the construction of family rooms. Rotary Club of Maleny, in conjunction with Maleny Apex Club and other private donors were principal donors towards construction of three “family rooms” attached to private wards at Maleny Soldiers memorial Hospital. This Hospital is believed to be one of only two remaining Soldiers Memorial Hospitals in Queensland. The Family Rooms containing a fold-out divan/bed, subdued lighting, chairs, refrigerator, TV and kitchenette are designed for family members to stay with patients at the hospital. A typical patient would be a new mother and baby, someone who is terminally ill, accident victims, children and anyone who needs their family with them. The rooms open onto a vast lawn area at the side of the hospital with seats and views forever.
The Rotary Club of Maleny’s contribution to “Spinning Wheels” a book published to celebrate the centenary of Rotary. The underlying strength of the Rotary Club of Maleny has been the support and involvement of partners (in 1980s speak ‘Rotaryannes’). One such involvement in the 80s was entertaining the elderly, lonely, shut-in women in the community. Several partners have been recognised as Paul Harris Fellows.
The twenty-first century projects are too recent to qualify as history, as some of the initiatives are still evolving. However there are some notable achievements. The Club’s ongoing concern about life-threatening situations was again displayed with the donation of a defibrillator to the local Ambulance Service. Internationally, PolioPlus has been a special passion. The involvement and dedication of Club members in the labour-intensive Bike Education school program has probably saved kids’ lives and reduced injury. The members’ generosity in pledging $10,000 for “family rooms” for relatives of hospital patients was an exercise in compassion. The novelty of the highly successful “Pick Your Own Prize” raffle is a fundraising boon and a valuable contribution to the local business community. The 2004 team effort of all Club members in contributing to the success of arguably the best District Conference ever held in District 9600 was memorable. The Cub is fortunate to be blessed with a depth of talent and experience which include 18 Paul Harris Fellows and four past district governors.
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