Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island finally getting its own CFS fire shed after 40 years

The Stokes Bay Hall Committee meeting on site, formulating plans to rebuild the much-loved hall and restore it to its pride of place in their community. Photo KI Recovery team
The Stokes Bay Hall Committee meeting on site, formulating plans to rebuild the much-loved hall and restore it to its pride of place in their community. Photo KI Recovery team

The Stokes Bay community will finally gets its own fire shed after 40 years of stashing its fire appliance on various farms.

And the shed, going up this week next to what remains of the Stokes Bay Hall, will also become the new central meeting place for the community during the long-haul rebuilding phase.

The Kangaroo Island Recovery team from the Department of Human Services featured an update about the Stokes Bay Hall recovery effort in their weekly Recovery Roundup column that featured in this week's Island and can be read below.

Stokes Bay Hall Committee president Kate Stanton said it was great to have the first community meeting at the hall grounds on Sunday, June 28.

KI surveyor Rick Andrews donated his services to mark out the property to help the committee envision the rebuild.

Pictured days after the fire are the remains of the new extension in the foreground and the surviving Stokes Bay Hall building to the rear. The block has now been cleared and the hall shored up until repairs can be made.

Pictured days after the fire are the remains of the new extension in the foreground and the surviving Stokes Bay Hall building to the rear. The block has now been cleared and the hall shored up until repairs can be made.

The newly completed extensions, only officially opened months before the fire, were totally destroyed on the evening of January 3.

The main hall building was partially burned, requiring internal bracing and extensive repairs before it can be used again.

Mrs Stanton said the community in coming months would decide how to rebuild the hall, so the recent donation of $300,000 from the KI Mayoral Bushfire Relief and Recovery Fund was most welcome.

The Prince's Foundation, an educational charity set up by the Prince of Wales, had also offered to help with the architectural design and rebuilding process.

The exciting news for the community was the new Country Fire Service fire shed, donated by Olympic Industries, which should be complete by next week.

Stokes Bay, which is included in the Western Districts CFS zone, received its first firefighting appliance back about 40 years ago.

But over the years, the various fire trucks been housed on one of the brigade members' farms, initially Kevin Pratts and then the Wursts and most recently Simon Kelly.

Mrs Stanton said building a Stokes Bay CFS fire shed was always going to be the next priority after the hall refurbishment and extension building.

But now having it built and ready for the next fire season was all the more important given the trauma of last summer's fires.

Read more about the first Stokes Bay Hall committee meeting in the Recovery team's column below:

Recovery Roundup, July 16

In last summer's fires Kangaroo Island lost some big ticket infrastructure, not least the community halls of Western Districts and Stokes Bay, places holding special memories for residents past and present of dances, suppers, gatherings serious and not-so-serious, birthdays, plays, and so much more.

As the Stokes Bay Hall Committee deals with their individual private losses and grief they have continued with the major project of rebuilding the much-loved hall and restore it to its pride of place in their community.

On Sunday, June 28, the first community get together since the fires and COVID-19 restrictions, around 30 adults and enough young children to start a sports team gathered to share stories, look at plans and wipe a fair bit of dust out of their eyes through the day!

The kids climbed the "gi-normous" stack of trees, the adults walked the staked out perimeter and made wishes for priorities for the future build.

Locals Jenny and Will Stanton's young daughter, Grace, wrote her thoughts down for the eventual designers to hear:

"My favourite time at the hall was ... playing together catching balls, playground, tennis court." Other fond memories include the Christmas plays and of course the KI-famous Stokes Bay Fireworks!

Wishes for the future include a family welcoming space, and lots of windows and light, but there is also a tight emotional hold on what is now left of the building. This offers the committee a good challenge to retain the memories and history, and keep everyone included on the journey.

Also shining through is the generosity of people, businesses and organisations who have contributed to the rebuild fund.

Olympic Industries have donated a purpose-built shed and the CFS is funding the construction works - the shed will eventually house the local CFS truck and in the meantime provide a shelter for important hall planning activities.

"The kindness and generosity of people from all over the place has just been amazing!" said Kate Stanton, Stokes Bay Hall Committee president. The Committee was recently presented with the largest donation to date, being $300,000 from the Mayoral Bushfire Fund.

The hard working volunteer team is producing a regular newsletter and warmly welcomes members of the community (and the wider world) to stay in touch with progress.

If you would like to keep in touch or to help in any way just email the committee at stokesbayhall@gmail.com

Local Recovery Coordinator Rob Manton and his team are feeling rewarded in supporting this project.

"Amidst all the major projects, of which Stokes Bay Hall is one, you can never overlook the meaning and importance of 'place' in community and recovery," Rob reflects. "I wish the committee all the best, with the rebuild now well on its way to achievement." - Catherine Tydeman, KI Recovery team

This story Stokes Bay finally getting its own fire shed after 40 years first appeared on The Islander.

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