Walcha History: Parade a real racquet as community parades for squash courts

All the fun of the fair: Part of the big fund-raising street procession for the Walcha Squash Courts – photo courtesy of Barbara McHattan.
All the fun of the fair: Part of the big fund-raising street procession for the Walcha Squash Courts – photo courtesy of Barbara McHattan.

The Walcha News of September 6, 1979 reported: “The Walcha Shire Council has adopted the concept of a Community and Sports Centre to be built within the town. A site has not yet been determined but council hope to acquire land near the swimming pool for that purpose.”

At the time it was expected that the planned $500,000 complex would include a senior citizens centre, an arts and crafts facility, a youth recreation area, a gym, an indoor stadium suitable for both sports and concerts as well two squash courts. It was to be built in four stages with the first being the squash courts and change rooms at an estimated cost of $88,000.

Community fundraising was well in hand and was considerably enhanced by a procession and carnival held on Saturday, September 15, 1979.

Those taking part in the procession assembled at McHattan Park in Walsh Street and proceeded along South, Fitzroy and Derby Streets to arrive at the showground by 12.30pm. Andy Fletcher was the parade marshall and those taking part included flag bearers, the Armidale City Brass Band, scouts, girl guides, young children dressed in “monster” outfits, the Riding Club, floats by the Quota Club, hospital, business houses and Apex Club. There was a display of vintage cars, modern cars, the fire brigade and motor bikes.

An estimated 2,000 people enjoyed the action at the showground which included a parachute jump, peanut drop, a shearing challenge, a variety of other competitions and a football match between Walcha’s Rugby League and Rugby Union Clubs.

The various events on the day raised $7,000 including a remarkable $3,000 from a raffle for a holiday in Fiji. Peg Rogers won the raffle and took the five-day holiday in the company of her daughter Truda Newman.

In December 1980 council accepted a tender price of $166,500 offered by P.G. Pitman of Uralla to construct Stage 1 of the project. The all-up cost of the work was $190,000 which was met by $17,000 raised by the community, a $35,000 two-for-one government grant and a $138,000 long-term loan.

The facility was officially opened in November 1981.

Read more of Bob Walsh’s Walcha’s history.