The Tasmanian bushfires in January 2013 were seared onto people’s hearts and minds by televised scenes of a desperate mother clinging to her children at Dunalley wharf while fire consumed the town. The bushfires also devastated many other properties and the SSAA Blue Hills Shooters Club, not far from Dunalley, was totally ravaged on January 4, 2013.
by Richard Lindsay
From twisted iron sheets, warped and burned out storage containers and charred target frames, the club has since been rebuilt and is once again flourishing, three years on from the fire.
Our insurancer, through SSAA Insurance Brokers, was quick to inspect the damage and paid out the total sum of the insured value, but the money was insufficient to rebuild a suitable clubhouse. An extra payout from the government due to total loss helped top up the payout to a reasonable level and it was decided to relocate some transportable office units from the recently closed down Beaconsfield Gold Mine near Launceston.
We quickly found out that trying to reassemble five secondhand office units into a new configuration for a clubhouse was not going to be easy. Fresh plans had to be drawn up and planning and building permits approved before we could start the reconstruction. Leading the building program was John Featherstone, a recently retired builder from the Port Arthur Historic Site. John was ably assisted by Graeme Everett and several other volunteers who spent the better part of 18 months building a clubhouse from the old units to create a fine new structure. Everything had to be built to meet new regulations, including strict insulation and safety standards, which were not in place when we bought the units.
Australians are generous when someone is down on their luck. SSAA Tasmania provided a grant and several local private companies and clubs such as Lions donated equipment and money for our rebuild. With dogged persistence, the remodelled clubhouse took shape, a new container was installed and target frames renewed. It is well known that in a crisis you quickly discover your real friends. Some who were not part of our circle before the disaster became our friends and some emerged from the shadows to become our strongest allies.
In early April, the clubhouse received its permit to occupy. We have a new range approval and we have plans to invite all our sponsors and benefactors to a visitors’ shoot to say thank you.