Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The restoration of an historic jetty trolley has had unexpected benefits for men’s shed and community members on Kangaroo Island. The trolley was first used in the 1840s to transport basalt along the jetty onto waiting ships. The Kingscote Men’s Shed restoration project has seen the revival of rare trade skills using tools that were used 100 years ago to make the trolley, and the formation of new connections in the community.

The Men’s Shed received a $3,683 Strengthening Rural Communities grant, funded by the Waislitz Family Foundation, in partnership with Australian Community Media, to support recovery from the 2019/20 bushfires that devastated much of Kangaroo Island. This project is one of many FRRR supported across the island to strengthen community connection and support recovery activities.

Graeme Connell, Chair of the Kingscote Men’s Shed said, “The Kingscote Men’s Shed volunteers are very proud of their achievement to restore a 100-year-old jetty trolley and preserve the history of these trolleys that were used on jetties around Kangaroo Island. The older members of the Men’s Shed were able to share their knowledge about the skills and tools used in the old ways of construction of steel products with the younger members.”

The group used social media to stimulate interest and encourage new volunteers. New skills and friendships were formed between Men’s Shed members and community volunteers working together on this historic project, which included a local secondary student. Many passers-by were keen to see the restoration in progress, with a cup of tea at the ready for anyone interested in learning more or just having a chat.

The newly restored trolley sits proudly at the Pioneer Memorial Park as a monument both to past activities that forged the town, and as a marker of recovery. It has already become a favourite destination with local visitors and community members, particularly given its location overlooking the old wharf and beautiful coastline.

The Men’s Shed has well and truly achieved its goal of delivering a shared community project to create “meaningful interactions”. The sense of achievement and confidence from the project, and the camaraderie that has come from it has boosted mental health and wellbeing, which will have lasting impact on the group and wider community.