Community digs in for school
IT TOOK four years of fundraising, a week's hard labour and one very dedicated and determined community to see the Hamilton Island State School's playground upgraded last month.
Acting principal at the time Daniel Farrawell, who has taught at the school for the past four years, said after each cyclone season the school had to replace the washed-away sand and tanbark through a community working bee.
The tale is not a typical one as the idea to lay soft-fall under the existing play equipment had been half a decade in the works for the school's Parents and Citizens' Association.
"This is more practical and the soft-fall is of a safe Australian standard," Mr Farrawell said.
"I think because it's been such a long-term goal, I feel proud I was able to be there to see it come to fruition.
"We are grateful to see it finished as it was a very big job to save up for.
"This wouldn't have been possible without Hamilton Island Enterprises, who contributed a significant amount on top of the fundraising by the P and C (association)."
But after the financial first hurdle, the school community was struck with a second - the Hamilton Island terrain would not allow for machinery site access, which came to light as the contractor from Townsville's workforce pulled out last minute.
From there it was a frantic call-out to the community for help manually transporting to the site the 20 tonnes of raw building material.
"This contractor, who was (aged) about 74, arrived with no help and so we got the whole community involved and did it from scratch," Mr Farrawell said.
"We always intended to help out a bit because we wanted to be part of this big goal, but there was no way the contractor could do it himself considering his labour had pulled out on him at the last minute."
Answering the call to action, 30 helpers turned up to put in two days of unpaid labour during a weekend at short notice.
"Parents and kids started turning up, then we had other volunteers from the community who had no connection to the school come along as well," Mr Farrawell said.
The team dug out the playground area, laid down 15 tonnes of crusher dust by hand for a flat surface, which was then "Wacker packed" down before the five tonnes of soft rubber was laid.
The work required in the next few days was more skill-specific, but a stream of volunteers still put in five days of hard labour to lay liquid rubber by hand on top of the base.
"There was even a couple in their 20s from Coffs Harbour who were travelling around Australia and came to Hamilton Island for a holiday who committed five days and helped us," Mr Farrawell said.
"They were Instagram influencers Mark and El @notbusy_"
"All small schools and community organisation have people who donate their time, it's not a unique phenomenon to us, but we are still very lucky to have such a great community behind us."