The entrance to Maleny is quietly guarded by the RSL Hall, a building that looks as if it has always overlooked the town. In fact, like many aspects of Maleny it came from somewhere else.

The land on which the Maleny Returned and Services League sub-branch building stands was originally part of a parcel of land purchased by Francis Dunlop. He was granted title to 160 acres to build a homestead in 1880. The land was returned to the crown in 1896.

In 1938 a memorandum of agreement was drawn up between Mr William Burnett and the three trustees of the then RSSAILA. The agreement called for the trustees to maintain the land in a clean condition, not sell the land without prior written approval of Mr Burnett, and pay a yearly rental of one shilling for ten years. On 28 January 1946 building forms were obtained from the Department of War and Industry for the purchase of a building from the Air Force. This meant the RSL Maleny Sub-Branch would have a new home.

RSL Maleny original hall 1946
RSL Maleny original hall 1946. Originally a feed shed donated by William Burnett. In 1947 it was purchased by Maleny Scouts and relocated at 1 Bicentenary Lane, where it still stands today.

The RSSAILA MALENY purchased the building (no77) the Gymnasium/Picture Theatre from Maryborough depot in 1946 for a cost of 2000 pounds. A building group made up of Jim Hunt, Bill Rough, Les Clancy, Maurie Weeks, Ned Weeks, Clarie Wilkins, George Svenson (original ANZAC), and Vivian Layt (registered builder) travelled from Maleny to Maryborough. Their task was to dismantle the building, numbering each plank and door to enable it to be reconstructed in Maleny.

The toughest job according to Les (“Nuggett”) Sinclair was the removal of all the nails from each plank and post.

With the building carefully pulled down, each board and piece was individually numbered before transporting to Landsborough by rail. WL Watson’s carrying service transported the building from Landsborough to Maleny ready for reconstruction.

Mr George Svensen, Mr W (Bill) Musk, Mr Leo Clancy and brothers Les (Nugget) and Wally Sinclair, Mr Terry Larney and Mr John Fogarty were responsible for the major work of rebuilding the Hall. Nugget still lives in Maleny and can often be found selling tickets for the Maleny Ambulance, outside the AMCAL chemist.

RSL Hall 1954
RSL Hall 1954

After many months reconstruction was complete. Nugget and Wally, mixed all the cement for the posts by hand, mixing one bag at a time. They would hand pump water from the Obi Obi creek and mix up to one ton of cement each day. ” That’s hard work even for today’s cement mixers” says “Nugget”.RSSAILA committee members Mr Bert Cranney and Mr Les Boyland kept a keen eye on progress and paid the workers. They were paid the huge sum of 1 shilling and 6 pence per day.

The new Returned Soldiers Sailors and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia building was officially opened on 27 August 1948. In 1948 a Digger’s Ball was held to celebrate the opening. The Ball was held annually until the mid 1960s.

Some old timers remember a mural depicting the Gallipoli landing that was on the back wall of the hall, painted by Mrs Thomas. A suggestion was made that perhaps curtains could be provided so that civil functions did not have to look at the mural.The mural caused so much consternation within the sub- branch that it mysteriously disappeared one weekend after a meeting.

Apart from countless RSL ceremonial and Rembrance Days, over the past 60 years, the Maleny RSL Hall has seen movies, theatre plays, bingo, balls, Kids Club, neighbourhood centre, Maleny markets, Maleny Bridge Club, Tai Kwondo, dance clubs, children’s theatre, fitness clubs and public meetings, all using the hall’s facilities and contributing to the cultural life of Maleny and district.

RSL Hall 2010
RSL Hall 2010

With thanks to RSL historian, Frank Beattie

Article as Published in November 2010 edition of The Hinterland Times

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