New start for Bundaberg's sporting clubs

A HUGE part of Bundaberg's social fabric - its sporting organisations - suffered a big blow during the summer floods of 2010 as many of them went under water.

The most affected were those whose facilities were located on the banks of the Burnett River or the low-lying inner-city areas surrounding Saltwater Creek.

The Sandy Hook Ski Club clubhouse and Bundaberg Rowing Club's storage sheds, underneath the clubhouse near Kennedy Bridge, were swamped by muddy floodwaters.

But the biggest losses were suffered when the eastern end of Bourbong St became a deepwater sea.

The neighbouring Bundaberg Cricket Association's Kendalls Flat complex, Bundaberg Netball Association's Daph Geddes Park, Bundaberg Basketball's Flint St Stadium, Bundaberg Junior Tennis Association's Rotary Park complex, the Tantitha Bowls Club and Coral Isle Cycling Club's criterium circuit were all inundated.

Twelve months on and most of them have bounced back and restored the facilities to their former glory or better, or are well on the road to recovery.

Sandy Hook Ski Club president Col Patterson said at the peak of the flood only the roof of the clubhouse was visible.

"We got in early and got some of the stuff out, but when access was closed off, we lost a fair bit of gear," Patterson said.

"The coldroom floated up to the ceiling before coming down and it buggered the carpets and toilets, but structurally it was pretty good."

The clubhouse reopened at the start of October after $165,000 worth of repairs - and a swag of donations, including $76,000 from the State Government, $20,000 from the Commonwealth Bank, $7000 from McDonald's, $1000 from IGA and $500 from Electra Breweries, and many tradesmen donating their services.

Bundaberg Rowing Club vice-president John Bigg said members' biggest relief was that they had been able to move out the Burnett River pontoon before the floods hit, and that the international-standard Bucca rowing course had not been affected.

"We had really good help from club members and the broader community and we got all boats out, bar one which was on the top rack which we thought would be out of reach. It broke its back, which was a major loss," he said.

"We also lost all our spare replacement parts for the boats, but we were able to get insurance for damage to the boat and it is long back on the water."

Now that Rowers on the River will not reopen the downstairs section of its restaurant, the club will also gain this area to house its growing fleet of boats.

Due to enormous damage to its fields and buildings at Kendalls Flat, Bundaberg Cricket Association was unable to use grounds through to the end of the 2010/11 season in March, but all of their junior matches were relocated to Salter Oval, with senior fixtures adjusted to accommodate them.

With many grants, sponsorships and donations, including a major one from the Commonwealth Bank, association junior co-ordinator Noel Stitt said repairs to the new clubhouse had been completed by the start of the new season in October 2011.

A new building, incorporating showers, a toilet block and storage rooms, is nearing completion and Stitt hopes to have it opened by the end of this month.

"It has mainly been provided through flood relief money from many sources. Lew Rehbein managed the clubhouse repairs and Brent Keune has organised all the new building, and the place is starting to look really good again," Stitt said.

Bundaberg Netball Association was caught out by the rapid rise in the floodwaters and members were not able to get much out of their buildings in time, leading to huge losses of equipment.

Structural damage to Daph Geddes Park prevented them from playing there at all in 2011, but their season went on at Shalom College.

Association president Karen Holloway said their total damages bill amounted to more than $350,000 and the canteen had only just been restored.

Work on laying the new bitumen to the courts, lighting and all other structures is about to start and should be completed before the start of the new season in March.

"We couldn't start the work under the Sport and Recreation grant until January this year, but we have just been overwhelmed by the support throughout the community to get us back on our feet," Holloway said.

This time last year, Bundaberg Basketball was also in a state of despair after their complex was engulfed by floodwaters, but president Mat Fleming said they could not have hoped for a better recovery.

After starting their fixtures for the season at Shalom College, they were able to move "back home" by March after a rapid recovery process.

"Since the flood, we have had so much support from the government and other organisations," Fleming said.

"We upgraded the canteen and ripped up the floor and furnishings and replaced them, and recently we got another grant, including $100,000 from Woolies to have a shelter over another of the outside courts."

Another grant secured just before Christmas will enable the association to do another shade shelter on the outside court and upgrade the dressing and referees' rooms.

"As bad as it sounds, the flood may have been a bonus for us because it has made us realise we really have to start doing something with the stadium," Fleming admitted.

Most of Bundaberg Junior Tennis Association's courts at Rotary Park were severely damaged, as well as their clubhouse and canteen, but many months of hard work culminated in the opening of the redeveloped complex in November 2011.

Vice-president and professional coach Kevin Banner said current and former club members and the whole community had rallied in the initial clean-up and repair process.

"The flood damage had interrupted the lifestyle of the many people who use our complex, with the facility not good enough for them to be able to carry on playing tennis for so long, but the Rotary Park Complex is back to its best and is again a facility the whole region can be proud of," Banner said.

Tantitha Bowls Club Men's president Brian Frawley said their club and members were "slowly getting back to normal".

"We sustained a fair amount of damage, quite a bit of work was done to the new entrance with a new front wall along George St - there's still a problem with the clubhouse as far as a leaking roof, and we lost a lot of machinery downstairs," Frawley said.

The inside of the club has been modernised, but members are still trying to get the kitchen back in order after "a fair bit" of equipment was lost.

"Our greens are still suffering a bit because they were inundated and the drainage systems blocked," Frawley said.

"We have had one of the greens re-laser-levelled and top dressed and it will come back on line shortly, but the other two have got to be done as well - they were done just before the floods and that has set us back quite a bit of money."

The club received grants and assistance from groups locally and interstate, and Frawley said members would have struggled without the help of groups such as the East Bundaberg Bowls Club, the RSL and the Sunrise Rotary Club.

A lot of volunteer labour got the club back operating by early March.

Coral Isles Cycling Club president Bernie Kemps said his group completed repairs to its track two months ago at a cost of "about $25,000".

"But the government chipped in a considerable amount of that - we had been racing on it throughout the year but it is nice to have it nice and smooth again," Kemps said.

The Bundaberg Youth Club Boxing Club gym was also situated near the heart of the flood zone in Walla St and was forced to relocate after it was condemned as a result of flood damage and demolished.

But the club suffered minimal damage itself and found a new home in the Bundaberg Showgrounds main pavilion.

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