Situated amongst spotted gums on the corner of Princes Highway & Clarke Street, Bodalla, south of Bateman’s Bay, is a newly renovated Uniting Church.
Next time you are in the area, pay a visit and see what has been done by the small Bodalla congregation with the generous support of a local community and parish. There is soon to be an Opening Day for the newly refurbished church (date still to be determined) and all will be welcome to come along.
Photos and story follow, based on the article by Noel Smart in the current issue of Perspective magazine.
Narooma, Bermagui, Bodalla and Cobargo lie south of Batemans Bay and together form the Mount Dromedary Parish. The Uniting Church at Bodalla was constructed in 1966 in a beautiful situation amongst some of the south coast’s famous spotted gums.
While the building had remained structurally sound, over the years the grounds had deteriorated until they were no longer considered safe for the older members of the congregation.
Two new families in the congregation recognised the situation and the need to do something about it.
Following congregational approval to go ahead with improving the landscaping, painting and decorating, the first issue was funding the project. The Narooma-based Council of the Mt Dromedary Parish presented the Bodalla congregation with a generous donation of $6000 and several members made donations as they could afford toward the project. The second issue was an ageing congregation who were not able to do the work.
The project managers called the Corrective Services Department from Batemans Bay, who agreed to help.
Bodalla contractor, Bill McConky, brought in his machine to scrape and level the site and when asked ‘how much?’ said it was a donation to the little church.
A Moruya landscape company, offered 10-12 tonnes of crushed stone to surface the car parking area, again as a donation.
A local resident donated an ‘as new’ organ to replace the existing one, which had become a little the worse for wear.
A local painter did the repairs, painted two buildings and supplied all materials for $1200 – a saving of $6000.
He also offered to assist the work crew with technical advice and help with the more critical tasks – such as the rotted window frames (see left) held together by paint alone.
His time and other expenses would be considered a community donation.
New concrete paths were poured; older ones widened; disabled access greatly improved and kitchen facilities upgraded. Initially the project only involved the area in front of the church but expanded manyfold to cover the entire block. Under-ground drains were required to control watershed across the sloping site, timber edges for gardens and new side fencing needed to be installed. The church’s bushland area was cleared and native self-sown plants encouraged to flourish; put in place by a work crew member studying horticulture.
The final cost could have been $50000 – staggering and unattainable – but instead, renovations were completed at a fifth of this cost thanks to the generosity of local traders, the Corrective Services work crew and the parish.