Men's Sheds in Loddon Valley
Published on 29 January 2016
The catch-up over a cuppa is every bit as important as the skilled handiwork on display.
Loddon Shire’s four Men’s Sheds have earned their place as key contributors to their local communities, both for the practical help they offer and the social connections they nurture.
The Shire’s Men’s Sheds are located in Boort, Pyramid Hill, Wedderburn and Inglewood.
They are part of a vast network of Sheds which germinated in Australia throughout the 1990s, sparked by the opening of the first such Shed in Lane Cove, Sydney, in 1996.
Today, peak body the Australian Men’s Shed Association, established in 2007, represents more than 930 Men’s Sheds around the country.
Pyramid Hill Shed member Bill Pearson said his group had about six regulars meeting in what was once the old infant welfare centre in the main street.
“We’re open every Wednesday morning till lunchtime,” Mr Pearson said.
“We do a lot of community projects, such as refurbishment jobs at the Memorial Hall or for the historical society, and run the morning tea at the town’s monthly market.
“This year, we’re planning to start making outdoor furniture, but we’re always looking for things we can do around the community.”
Boort Men’s Shed, located in the grounds of the town’s hospital, has about 20 members and meets every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
Long-time member Ken Loader said one of the group’s key purposes had been the maintenance of a 1940s merry-go-round on the lake foreshore which was brought up from Geelong in 1959.
“We operate the merry-go-round, do a bit of woodcraft and metalcraft and help out the kindergarten and hospital,” Mr Loader said.
“In recent times, we’ve built donation boxes for the local tourism group and tables and chairs for the Lake Meran Tennis Club.
“This year, we’re hoping to extend our shed and plan to complete the next metal sculpture for the trail around Little Lake Boort.
“The Quambatook Shed comes for an occasional visit, as does Pyramid Hill.”
Wedderburn Men’s Shed treasurer Geoff Maxwell said 23 members met regularly at the Engine Park on the edge of town.
“We’re open all day Tuesdays and Thursdays and host a Youth Night on Thursday, when kids from the secondary school come in to work with pyrography, wood turning and scroll saw projects,” Mr Maxwell said.
“A few people bring furniture in for restoring, we erected outside tables and chairs at the Loddon Arts Centre and helped with a shade sail at the community centre.
“Our members have also produced nest boxes for native wildlife and we’re making more of those.
“We do have links with other Sheds – St Arnaud wants to come across for a visit and we’ve been to Wycheproof and Inglewood.”
Inglewood Men’s Shed secretary/treasurer Kevin Poyser said the group’s 17 paid-up members met every Thursday.
“It’s a mix of private and community work – blokes will fix chairs or tables after personal requests, but also tackle tasks such as making steps for an exercise program at the hospital or a children’s table and stools at the playground,” Mr Poyser said.
“We have regular programs of inviting Grade 6 kids from the two primary schools to visit each week to make items, as well as bringing in elderly dementia patients from Bendigo for day outings.
“In the past, Inglewood members have visited Men’s Sheds at Wedderburn, Creswick, Bendigo and Wycheproof and we intend to do that again this year using the hospital’s minibus.
“Other Sheds have also visited us – East Geelong comes to mind.”
Loddon Shire Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said members of Men’s Sheds in other parts of the country were welcome to visit the local branches.
“People could enjoy a short or extended stay and share ideas with each other,” Mrs Vella said.
“While they’re in the area, they could also take in some of our local attractions, such as the Piccolis’ Spanner Sculpture Garden, Simply Tomatoes near Boort, a working eucalyptus stew pot, our heritage towns, historic machinery or the Inglewood car museum.”