How it all started...
It started with a goose, and was saved by a broken fire truck.
In December 1963, the few permanent residents of Callala Bay, many avid fishing folk, decided to form a Progress Association. The Progress Association held its first meeting on 2 January 1964 and passed a motion that ‘Council be approached for a grant of a suitably located block of land for a Community Hall.’ Their very first fundraising activity towards this ambition was to raffle a goose that had been donated for the cause.
The goose raffle tickets must have sold well, because the proceeds plus donations from the Bay residents raised enough money to pay the deposit on a piece of land running from Boorawine Terrace to Morton Street at a land auction held by Council just nine days later, on 11 January 1964. The deposit was £20 on the land that sold for £460. While the Progress Association did not get a grant to pay for the land, Council agreed that the balance of the money could be paid off over ten years, interest free.
Callala Bay threw a huge party!
Celebrations marking the ‘gala opening of Callala Bay’s Progress Association’ were held on February 16 and was quite the event. The local Nowra newspaper reported:
‘For the opening, the [Shoalhaven] Town Band, and visiting Marching Girls, the Fairy Meadow Majorettes, combined to provide entertainment, while the Senior Citizens provided the merry-go-round and other needed amenities for the afternoon’s programme.’
Finding the money
Old time fundraising ...
So now the fledgling Progress Association was the proud owner of a piece of land for the hall, but the hall itself took many more years to eventuate.
First, there was the problem of raising funds to build a hall while at the same time having to pay off the land, and meanwhile paying rates on the land. It was a big ask for such a small community, but it is amazing what they accomplished.
Fundraising began at once with raffles, street stalls, and film and housie evenings held in people’s houses and garages. By the end of 1964, locals had raised the sum of £250 towards the hall, which was a remarkable achievement. (The gala alone had raised £35.7.10). Draft plans were drawn up. But ongoing costs on the land kept draining the Association’s funds and so finally in 1967 the Progress Association came up with a clever plan to avoid paying rates and taxes on the land. They decided to approach Council with a proposal to transfer the ownership of the land to Council, and for Council then to make the land available on trust to the Progress Association to build a hall. A motion was passed at a Progress Association General Meeting on 28 January 1967 to ‘transfer lots 9/10 section 20 to Council of land to be made available to erect a hall, submit plans of hall to Council and proceed generally to go ahead with a loan in this matter’. The motion was carried unanimously.
But it took time, a lot of time and effort, and legalities about the land transfer were not settled until 1969. By then, the Association was getting impatient, opinions divided, and there were rumblings to ‘recommend sale of the land if not completed.’
However, discussions about the hall did not stop. Should the community just forget about erecting a hall completely? If they were to go ahead, then what kind of hall should they build? There were ideas of transporting an existing structure from Warragamba Dam (‘40 ft frontage and 20 ft depth’) and another proposal to buy a used building from Albattross as Culburra had recently done. But nothing progressed for this Progress Association about their beloved hall because the land was not yet finalized, funds kept dwindling, and it was all taking so long. The dream seemed to be fading.