The community hall – the hub of every town

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YourLifeChoices’ 90-year-old columnist Peter Leith is on a mission to document key aspects of Australian life. In his Vanishing Australia series, he revisits the hub of so many small communities – the hall.

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It stands alone on a large block, about a mile from the crossroads, pub, service station and cluster of other buildings that make up ‘the town’.

Vaguely ecclesiastical in shape, its steeply pitched roof and hardwood walls perch on corrugated iron-topped stumps. The white ants in this part of South Australia are pretty savage.

The roof drains into two big corrugated iron tanks, which, together with the windmill and bore, supply the kitchen and two toilet blocks with water.

Inside, one end is taken up by a raised stage under which is stored the folding tables and sets of six folding wooden chairs which, collectively, constitute all the furnishings of the hall. 

The full width of the other end of the hall houses the huge, country kitchen and its gigantic green-and-yellow enamelled AGA cooker and bottled gas stove.

A large wooden table provides ample space for all the food that the local CWA ladies provide at every function and after Sunday services.

A wide serving hatch and counter joins the kitchen to the body of the hall.

Its real name is ‘Gallagher Hall’, after the pioneer family that donated the land, but everyone today refers to it as ‘The Hall’.

Do you have fond memories of a community hall? Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith

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