Community stories: 26 September 2018
The provision of a fundraising account was just the boost the Atherton Rotary Club needed to give a historic military igloo built in the 1940s as part of the war in the Pacific.
The town of Atherton in the Tablelands Region, Far North Queensland and its surrounds were key in Australia’s World War II effort, the location of a major war cemetery, general hospitals, military camps and ordinance depots. Around 100,000 military personnel were stationed in the region at the height of the war in the Pacific between 1943 and 1945 as the Japanese threatened to invade Australia.
The igloo, built in 1943, provided an essential space for social activities hosting entertainment events for thousands of patients and staff from the neighbouring Rocky Creek Hospital. Six of the structures were built originally with the one in Atherton the last still standing.
Falling into disrepair, the Atherton Rotary Club drove a fundraising campaign, using the FRRR fundraising account and a $20,000 grant from the Culture, Arts, Tourism and Community Heritage(CATCH) grants program to restore the facility and create a military museum.
Getting the igloo to lock-up has been a major undertaking, with the funds contributing to dressing rooms for the theatre stage, lighting, emergency exits, major floor repairs including restumping, and a stainless-steel kitchen for the use of hirers in the future.
Jo Barnes from the Atherton Rotary Club said that the igloo’s revitalisation was a “great relief to Rotarians involved in what at first appeared to be a huge, maybe impossible, undertaking,” she said.
“The builders are proud of their achievement in bringing it together and having the opportunity to work on a building with so much local and Australian significance.” “Visitors are intrigued, excited and challenged to remember what their past relatives have said to them about being at Rocky Creek during the war.”