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Tully Memorial Pool Beginnings 1965

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This story covers only the lead-up process and first year of the pool's history.
In the middle of 1965, just before the introduction of decimal currency, plans were approved for an olympic pool for Tully, to cost an estimated 61,500 pounds. The plans provided for three pools - an olympic, a children’s and a toddlers’ pool. Facilities included 50 metre main pool, Children's Pool, Wading Pool, Change Rooms, Entrance Pavilion and Kiosk. There were numbers of youngsters living in the Shire who were unable to swim at the time.


The designers envisaged artifical waterfalls and other tropical features in the grounds making it one of the finest pool settings in the North and one of the shire's most valuable assets. It was hoped the surrounds could well be a major drawcard for tourists.


The residents were overjoyed for the weather was in one of its driest for many years and a pool sounded the perfect answer.


The pool was to be located at the rear of Mitchell Park which was to be developed to provide a natural setting. Waterfalls, rockeries and gardens together with a number of trees for shade to give the area a tropical setting. Mitchell Park is a 3.6 acre reserve which extends from Bryant Street to the rear of the Memorial Baths.


For years it had been sadly neglected, but with the opening of the Baths it was hightime something was done to beautify the surrounds.

Tully was moving along with pride. Sewerage works were on the agenda too! The town was growing up!


At this time, the Tully water supply only served a population of 2,976, with only 942 tenements connected to the service. The average consumption per head of population was 169 gallons or 770 litres per day using 14,830,580 gallons (67,421,151 litres) at an average rate of 503,000 gallons (2,286,683 litres) per day.


This was also the start of the conservation movement to save the Barrier Reef, firstly, and saw scientists combing the rainforest in search of some exotic plant seeking a cure for the dreaded big C, cancer, and heart disease - the major killers. Research scientists trekked from Cardwell Range to the Daintree River. They had received this assignment at the Federal level and included senior technical officers and zoologists who were to save plants and trees that would be of scientific interest.


Two tenders, slightly below estimate. covering major works on the swimming pool project were accepted in 1966.. The major contract went to local contractor, Mr IP Bosnisch, valued at $39,558.35. His tender covered the construction of the Olympic size pool, children’s pool, wading pool, pump house, wet well and entrance pavilion.


The second contract let went to WG Utting Sales Company for $13,283 to supply the water purification plant. The tender of $105,721 submitted by a Cairns firm was rejected. Six tenderers ranging downwards from $15,100 were received for the supply of this equipment.


Work on the construction of the main pool and other amenities commenced in the 1966/1967 financial year. But the contrator had to be granted an extension of three months to complete the project.


The original date set for completion of the job was 20th March 1967, but this was extended to 20th June. Heavy rains in March and April threw overboard any hopes of finishing construction by the end of May. Mr Bosnich was confident that construction would be completed by the extension date provided no further interruptions came from wet weather. Council then decided to landscape the grounds before officially opening it to the public.


The pool was nearing completion and the Council became committed to another Swimming Pool for Cardwell.


Tilers finally lined the walls of the main pool after rain forced them to quit for a week. Bricklayers worked on the dressing sheds and the entrance building and other men laid the final sections of spillway at the deep end of the main pool.


All the remaining work was of a finishing nature, adding final touches to this and that and then excavating and filling certain sections of the site. Concrete paths leading from the entrance and dressing sheds to the main pool, the small pool and a shallow wading pool were built.


The position of Caretaker was advertised to take up duties early in September 1967 with the lease or rental rights of the Kiosk. A husband and wife combination was considered to be an ideal arrangement in the functioning of the pool and Kiosk while also the Caretaker was given a guarantee of full employment during the off season.


The Lease period was for five years and Tenders had to possess Life Saving Qualifications for surf or still-water or for First Aid. The leasee of the baths was finally given to Mr John Newbury.


Then a swimming club was to be formed. A public meeting for this purpose was convened by the Shire Clerk, Mr TH Farr. along with another man who was keen to get club activities under way, Mr Eddie Kratzmann. During Army service Mr Kratzmann won recognzed as a competitive swimmer in inter-services competition and will also be remembered as a surf lifesaving champion of yesteryear.


Apart from organising competitive swimming and inter-town competitions the swimming club would arrange regular coaching classes and conduct learn-to-swim campaigns. And these began immediately, for a fortnight school children under the supervision of teachers began using the pool, which was not yet open to the general public until after the official opening.


But there was little interest In the founding of Swim Club at a poorly attended public meeting. So undeterred, a steering committee of six was formed and assigned the task of drafting a constitution for a swimming club at Tully. They were confident that the pool opening would spark off interest in the club.


The committee comprised Mrs J Mitchell, Miss J White, Messrs Tom Farr, Doug Black and Jamie White who obtained forms and handbooks from the Queensland Amateur Swimming Association, a draft a constitution and followed up on affiliations with State and Northern Swimming Associations. Clubs at Innisfail and Ingham were contacted and the draft constitution prepared before the committee met again.

Tully’s $119,000 Olympic swimming pool was officially opened by Shire Chairman Marty McNamara at 2pm Sunday 29th April 1968, during a ceremony that was followed by a swimming carnival.


The baths were dedicated as a War Memorial in honour of the men and women of the Shire who fought in times of war for their country as well as some giving their lives. The baths were officially named the Tully Memorial Baths while a detachment from the Jarra Creek army camp participated in the ceremony.


Official guests at the dedication and opening included men and women who, as members of the Swimming Pool Appeal Committee, worked so hard to raise funds by public subscription that the project might be undertaken.

Atherton and Mareeba sent teams to compete in the town’s first swimming carnival. A handful of swimmers from each club competed with local swimmers in various age groups. Organisers pointed out that it was not a full carnival, but rather an exhibition of competitive swimming styles aimed at encouraging children to swim.


After this great success a public meeting was then convened by the steering committee which unanimously favoured the formation of the Tully Amateur Swimming Association and appointed Mr TH Farr as its first President. Mr W Ashton declined nomination for the position.


The meeting at which the association was formed was attended by 25 persons, twenty-one of them adults, and only one apology being received. Mr Farr reported on the Committee’s findings and on the carnival that had been conducted in conjunction with the official opening of the baths showing a net profit of $89.19.


Membership fees were set at: Boys and Girls Under 16 years – 70 cents; 16 Years and Over $1.20: and Family Membership $4.00. Membership Forms were made available from Mr Ron Pease at Taylor’s, Mrs V Ronco of Taxis, and at the kiosk at the baths.


The Club Colours for inter-town competitions for Tully Amateur Swimming Association representatives was the black and gold Association colours and club swim nights from thenon began on Thursdays at 7pm.


The question of providing the necessities of stop watches and starting gun arose and Mr and Mrs Vince Ronco said they would contribute the cost of one of the watches and the gesture won them a round of applause. An approach was also made to one of the town’s two hotels for the right to conduct poultry raffles as a means of raising finance.


Meanwhile a three-man delegation negotiated with the leasee of the baths on three main points. The reservation of one lane in the main pool for training purposes at selected times; the allocation of a suitable night for Association swims; and hire charges for the use of the baths for Association swims.


The Association’s December meeting considered the adoption of a constitution for the new body and the following officers were duly elected:-

Treasurer – Mr Ron Pease; Club Captain – Mr E Kratzmann; Coach and Referee – Mr W Ashton; Handicappers – Messrs M Cowle and Roy Pease; Chief Starter – Mr M Rackley; Assistant Timekeeper – Mr M Cowie; Call Steward – Mr Roy Pease.


Miss J White, a member of the Steering Committee, accepted the position of Association Secretary.


In December seventy swimmers competed in handicapped freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke events at the first swim organized by the newly formed Swimming Club and officials were extremely gratified at the marked improvement achieved since the opening of the baths.


Another feature was a race for beginners which was also staged early each swim night.


Handicaps were based on swims conducted in conjunction with the carnival organized for the official opening, but some competitiors recorded times which eclipsed their carnival times by 26 seconds for 50 metres. The handicapper took a hard look at times before the next night’s swim and much closer finishes were experienced.


The Swim Results were:




Boys: Under 9 T Kava; U/10 K Cowle; U/11 J Kava; U/12 V Ronco;U/13 G Duffy (1st heat) R Milini (2nd heat); U/14 C Farr; U/16 D Taylor; Mens Open C Webster.


Girls: U/10 I Iggulden; U/11 C Nielsen; U/12 K Mullins; U/13 B Kennedy; U/14 V Pease; U/16 V Humphreys; Ladies Open V Pease.




Boys: U/10 K Cowle; U/12 V Ronco; U/13 R Laureston; U/14 C Farr


Girls: U/11 C Kelly; U/13 J Mitchell; U/14 V Pease; U/16 C Farr.




Boys: U/10 K Cowle; U/12 V Ronco; U/13 N Nielsen; U/14 K Nielsen; U/16 W Webster. Mens Open C Webster.


Girls: U/12 K Mullins; U/14 J Milini; U/16 V Humphreys; Ladies Open B Meikle.


The National Fitness Committee then made a grant of $20 to the Swimming Club to engage Mr Newbury to conduct ten 1-hour coaching classes over a period of ten days for Club members. This was the first such grant to be made to the newly formed Club. Newbury's 'Learn To Swim' programme was 'For the Young and Not So Young' where he could be reached at the bath's kiosk.


Now pupils from the El Arish State School started attending organized swimming classes conducted at the Baths. This followed representations by the Department of Education and subsequent approval by the Cardwell Shire Council. Instruction for the El Arish students was free, in accordance with arrangements made by the Department and the Council for children attending schools within the Cardwell Shire. Subsequently a grant of $10,000 was made by the Department towards the cost of the baths, which was in appreciation of the Shire Council’s gesture in opening the baths to El Arish schoolchildren.

The first Tully State School Inter-House Swimming Carnival was conducted at Tully Baths in April and provided grand entertainment for children and parents alike. Future carnivals promised to be even better with more and more children learning to swim each day.


About 100 children took part in the events watched by an estimated 200 adults. Many of the race finishes were so close that from some positions around the pool some swimmers appeared to dead-heat. But judges were able to separate them.


Clock-wise many of the performances were not quite up to scratch, but this was understandable when it was considered that many competitors could not swim to save themselves by the end of the previous year. But with the crop of swimmers now under the wing of Swim Club coaches good times were expected next year.


What was amazing was the ability and dash displayed by some of the younger swimmers. With careful preparation and correct coaching many of them could take their place in open ranks in the not too distant future.


This then prompted most of the children attending the Tully State Primary School to take part in the first ever inter-house swimming carnival at the Memorial Baths. The 41-event programme was devised to suit the swimming standards of the majority of the school’s pupils. Those in their first and second years at school participated in wading races. Pupils in the next three grades swam the width of the pool and those in higher grades swam 50 metres – the length of the pool. Underwater swims were also a feature of the programme.


In the mean time, two Cairns landscape gardeners proposed to convert Mitchell Park into a tropical garden. Mr David Leach and a former Cairns City Council curator, Mr Jim Gould expressed interest, but the decision was deferred awaiting indication of interest from local gardening experts.


Cost estimates for the beautification scheme were made along with the appointment of a consultant. A form of covering for the grandstand was also suggested by the Club as a protection to swimmers and the general public from the weather so estimates were called.


Tully Swimming Club’s first annual championships in May were a triump for two of the younger members, with honours for the boys going to 13-year old Michael Duffy and for the girls to 9-year old Joanne White. For the purpose of the championships, points were awarded for placings in events, attendance and for competitive swimming in three events each swim night.


The First Annual General Meeting was then held in the Library Meeting Room at the end of May where Receipt of President’s Report and Financial Statements, Election of Officers and General Business took place. Discussions of arrangements for trophy presentations was the next business.


Meanwhile, representations were being made to raise a loan for the purpose of tiling the floor of the Memorial Baths. Fungus which grew freely on the concrete bottom of the pool had been a headache to council and it was convinced that tiling was the only solution to the problem.


So that is how the pool came into being. More will follow ..

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