OAKBANK SOLDIERS’ MEMORIAL HALL
By Kendrea Rhodes
Where is the Oakbank Hall and where is the memorial? Occasional questions asked of the Hall’s Secretary, Tony White. It is possible, when driving on the Onkaparinga Valley Road, to overlook the Oakbank Hall due to the trees and flourishing businesses surrounding it. But if you slow down, you might notice the Art Deco portico, its imposing columns, and maybe even the 95 years of memories and local history seeping through the walls and windows.
The Hall was built in 1926 as a memorial for local people who enlisted in World War I. The land was donated locally, funds were raised by the district, and the community had a commemorative hall for fairs, functions, concerts, celebrations and remembrance. Eight cedars were planted as part of the memorial and only one remains today. A World War II memorial plaque was added later.
When the previous committee retired, Oakbank resident, Tony White, campaigned for volunteers to join the Hall’s new committee in August last year. With the Hall’s fate hanging in the balance, Tony was adamant they would save it, particularly as it is a memorial to people who sacrificed so much.
The wider community rallied round at the AGM, where over one hundred people attended, many nominating to join the committee. This interest and commitment endures as residents and local businesses continue to support the Hall in numerous ways.
The new committee members are: Tony Hervè, Tony White, Adrian Dormer, Tony Kemp, Neil Shillabeer, Vicky Charlton, Graeme Charlton and Geoff Keuhne.
The committee’s mission is ‘to manage, promote and maintain the … Hall for the enjoyment of the community.’ This is a community owned and operated building. The driving force to continue its upkeep is the significance of having a community gathering place, and the many benefits that flow on from that.
In just a few months the committee and volunteers have revamped the back yard and sheds where the Saturday Markets are held. Their numerous working bees were bolstered by students from the Hutt Community Centre Horticultural Course. The students designed a new memorial garden and irrigation system for the Hall and are keen to implement their designs one day.
Needless to say, most projects and ideas require funding. The Adelaide Hills Council has provided a much-needed grant to restore the veranda. Other avenues for grants are also being explored to assist with urgent repairs, maintenance and improvements.
If you are interested in hiring the Hall, volunteering, becoming a member, or anything else, please visit the Oakbank Hall on Facebook or call 0408 085 525.
The need for community gathering was duly met at the inaugural Saturday Market last December. Chairman, Tony Hervè said, ‘The hall was a hive of activity. The market enabled locals to have a good yak. It was a release from COVID for people who couldn’t see each other during the year.’
The Saturday Markets run every second Saturday of the month from 8am to 1pm. Local artisans sell local handmade and homegrown produce such as bread, plants, dried fruit, woodwork, jewellery, crafts, teas, home preserves, monthly super-raffle and more. Grab your breakfast or brunch from the BBQ, fresh fruit, or even ice-cream.
Phil Young, the Basket Range Baker, sold out at the February 13th Saturday Market, and plans to be back at the March 13th Market.
‘We loved the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the beautiful setting under the trees and the live music,’ Phil Young said. (Incidentally, live music was provided by local band, Almost Acoustic).
Phil Young went on to say, ‘The committee are really helpful. I think this market has the potential to become an iconic farmer’s market … we are really pleased to be selling our long ferment sour dough breads, brownies and other treats.’
Stalls at the Saturday Markets are $20 each for stall holders, please contact the Hall committee on 0417 849 894 or via Facebook.