Club closing – and opening again

Published 9:14am 11 September 2020

Club closing – and opening again
Words by Nick Crockford

Caboolture RSL will close for the final time on Sunday, just a few weeks short of its 65th birthday – but the club’s doors will not stay shut for long.

Pending approvals, the new Sports Central Caboolture community club will be opened at the end of this month by Caboolture Sports Club, which owns the Hasking St site.

Around 50 staff from the RSL have been re-employed, uniforms and new signage ordered and the cafe renamed to Grounds Café to fit the new venue’s sporting theme.

A mini facelift will also see new carpet, a sports lounge wall of televisions, new TAB as well as bingo, trivia nights and entertainment Friday and Saturday nights, plus Sunday afternoons.

In the beginning

It will continue a tradition which started on November 1, 1955 – Melbourne Cup Day – when Caboolture RSL Service Club first opened on the block beside its current site.

A history of Caboolture RSL by foundation member Ted Toohey said at that time the only other north coast services club was in Nambour. Every other club between Cooroy and Pine Rivers came after Caboolture opened.

The original timber building was the old Twin View RSL, built in the 1920s, which was dismantled and moved from Elimbah.

Fundraising dances helped generate the initial 300-400 pounds needed and the rebuild, with an additional porch and flagpole, was completed by Bishop Bros for 640 pounds.

Only one beer

Mr Toohey’s account said Caboolture RSL opened using a room which had been planned for billiards, as a bar with a household refrigerator.

However, post-war shortages remained. Foundation member Ted Toohey is recorded as saying: “There was not much stock, only Bulimba Beer.”

However, hopes were high, according to Ted, whose fellow members included, a shire clerk, school principal, scientist, banana ripener, cordial manufacturer and butter factory worker.

Caboolture RSL soon became a popular stop with travellers using Beerburrum Rd, which was the Bruce Highway in those days.

Manning the bar

For years, club steward Jim Brinin was often the only staff member at the RSL, running the bar until being relieved by a committee volunteer to have his evening meal.

Mr Toohey’s history said a youth club was run for a year in the 1960s before disbanding, indoor bowls and a social golf club also called the RSL home and its first television was installed just in time to watch the first ever tied Test match at The Gabba in 1960.

Club closing – and opening again

Brick additions

The club went through a number of upgrades including “brick additions” in the late 1970s costing about $250,000, until members outgrew the facilities and the current building was constructed and opened on March 30, 1996.

The hand-written record says despite being in one of the lower points of Caboolture, heavy rain and resulting floods have never stopped “keen” members getting to the RSL.

Throughout the Caboolture RSL Club’s 65 years it was always home to Caboolture Morayfield RSL Sub Branch, which is 101 years old, and that will continue under the new Sports Central Caboolture.

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