Trainee tradies to the renovation rescue at Jimboomba RSL

IT involved both renovation rescue and backyard blitz. Trainee tradies have turned two tired old buildings dating back to World War II into stylish headquarters for Jimboomba RSL – and learned valuable work and life skills in the process.

TRADIE TRAINING: Jimboomba and Yarrabilba trainees with (far left) Yarra project manager Darren Brushe and Jimboomba project manager Barry Power.

TRADIE TRAINING: Jimboomba and Yarrabilba trainees with (far left) Yarra project manager Darren Brushe and Jimboomba project manager Barry Power.

Seven of eight trainees attended a graduation ceremony that unveiled their work to Jimboomba veterans and dignitaries. One did not attend – because he had a new job.

Graduates Chloe Resinger-Gonzalez, 18, Ryan Drummond, 18, Sam Cornford, 18, Renee Oliphant, 23, Thomas Fletcher-Jones, 18 and Dylan McNamara, 19, are snapped here with trainees from a sibling project at nearby Yarrabilba. The Yarra trainees did a few days work on the RSL project and invited the Jimboomba crew back to help on a project of their own.

Jimboomba RSL makes its home in two ex-military buildings that date back to WWII. They were Howitzer Artillery training facilities at Wacol Army Base bought 25 years ago by the Jimboomba Veterans Support and Advocacy Service Australia organisation and relocated to Jimboomba Sports precinct. 

One became the VSASA meeting room and offices; the other Jimboomba Pony Club.

Jimboomba RSL president William Malkin AM said the buildings served both organisations well until the pony club relocated and VSASA wound up, donating the buildings, its memorabilia and all its funds to the RSL, which took ownership on June 1, 2016.  

“The truth is the buildings were tired and needed a renovation,” Mr Malkin said.

The makeover was accomplished in parallel projects. One was funded by Logan City Council, the other by the Queensland government and LCC under Skilling Queenslanders for Work. The latter project was managed by job training provider yourtown, which employed eight young locals and put them through formal training and work experience. The state government paid the salaries of the young workers. Logan paid for materials required to complete the project. The LCC funded project used council employees and associated contractors.

Mr Malkin said the ‘massive’ project had been a long time in the planning before work commenced in early February and ended today, August 9, when the trainees graduated.

The future tradies gutted rooms, lined walls, erected a metal fence and concrete footings, removed a roller door from one wall of the museum and inserted a glass sliding door, built a drainage system to take away accumulated rain water and restored areas of the buildings back to near original condition. They painted both buildings inside and out, built garden beds and installed garden benches.

Kingston artist Evangeline Goodfellow oversaw interior and exterior artworks, assisted by trainees Chloe and Ryan. Ms Goodfellow is a Logan artist whose work features all over Logan, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. She has worked for the Brisbane Festival and Queensland Rail on murals at Kingston, Loganlea and Holmview stations.

Trainee Chloe leaves the project with tradie tickets and experience in graphic artwork.

“Those four poppies, down low there on the wall, I filled those in,” she said.

“I also helped on the art on concrete outside. That was kind of hectic.”

The LCC project provided new commercial grade vinyl floor covering in the main RSL building, repaired the storage shed with new roller door and painting, replaced six ageing air-conditioner units, improved the liveability of the hall, provided and installed a new gas/electric oven, new gardens and plants, and a number of other miscellaneous tasks.

The project did not come without its trials and tribulations with the work of the young tradies vandalised on more than one occasion.

Logan MP Linus Power presented certificates to the young graduates.

“You come to events like these and people like me get a release to read from that talks about the job skills you’ve learned and how many people go on to work out of programs like this,” he said.

“What we can’t tell you is about the stories of those involved, nor about the confidence and the culture you learn about along the way.

“Years into the future, a lot of you will have kids of your own and one day you’ll make a day trip to a place called Jimboomba and you’ll point out these buildings and you’ll say to your kids, “see that there – I did that, I worked on that.”

Veterans Don Pidgeon and Ray McCabbin attended the graduation in the main RSL building. Neither could believe the transformation of the shed that stored six Howitzers they’d trained on at Wacol before heading to Vietnam postings in Nui Dat – Mr Pidgeon in 1966; Mr McCabbin in 1969.

The pair now both live in Jimboomba and are members of Jimboomba RSL. 

“I’ve been here before and it wasn’t much to look at,” said Mr Pidgeon.

“This looks amazing.”

Mr McCabbin added: “At Wacol, this wasn’t much more than a shed. The work the kids have done here is incredible.”