The Clem Jones Centre is a wonderful organisation that has thrived on the terrific support of many community minded people over a very long period of time. You may be interested to know the centre has a very proud tradition of service to the community, stretching back to 1957, when the inaugural meeting of the Camp Hill Carina Welfare Association was held on June 30 under some gum trees where the Carina Bowls Club now stands.
The centre actually had its very early beginnings when the Camp Hill Carina Branch of the Australian Labor Party requested Clem Jones approach the Brisbane City Council about vacant land in Stanley Road for sporting facilities. At its meeting in June, the association decided then to lease five acres of Crown land that was a badly neglected unofficial trotting track and was also being used as an illegal dump. Association members wanted to provide a variety of sporting opportunities for the youth in the district and set about the arduous task of clearing the land and making it suitable for the many sporting fields that the current 17 active clubs, catering for a wide range of sports and recreations, now enjoy today.
In November of 1957 the first fundraising event was actually a sports day with track and field events and also a tug-of-war competition among the Camp Hill Carina, Acacia Ridge, Seville Road, Bennetts Road and Moorooka branches of the Australian Labor Party, with the good folks from Seville Road prevailing on the day. There was very good news for the association when the council decided to extend the lease from five acres to 42 acres – but there was no water, no electricity and no toilets on the grounds and at the time Stanley was just an unsealed dirt track.
In September 1959 a fatal accident involving a rider put an end to the horse shows being held at the venue, but there was better news in October when the Carina Bowls Club was officially formed and East Carina Junior Rugby Football Club began training on what is now Alan Ramsay Oval. In the summer of 1962, the J J Ryan Memorial Club House was officially opened and the first game of cricket was played. After the first bowling green was opened in 1961, a second followed two years later, and the new bowls clubhouse hosted its first function in July 1964. Bulimba Hockey Club played on two fields on the Vince Herbert Oval in 1965 and construction started on the present 50m pool and squash courts in that year also.
The Fourth Australian Paraplegic Games was held at the complex in 1966, the same year the pool complex was officially opened. More progress saw the opening of Chadwick Hall in 1967, which was actually the forerunner to the Carina Leagues Club formed in 1971 and operating out of those premises. The 12m pool was heated for Learn to Swim classes in 1972 and the Wally Grout Practice Wickets (named after a famous Queensland and Australian wicketkeeper) were also used for the first time that year.
The Carina Junior Rugby League moved from Chadwick Hall into a new clubhouse named after Kev Buckmaster in 1973. The very first of many very popular annual Crackerjack Carnivals was held on 6th March 1976 on the Alan Ramsay Oval, where Wynnum-Manly Cricket Club established their home ground. Tennis courts were a new addition to the centre in 1979, while the Crackerjack Carnival was moved to the Vince Herbert Oval, a spectacular event with the addition of Ashton Circus’ Big Top, creating quite a feature.
The centre helped aspiring athletes in 1981 with the Thompson Estate Amateur Athletic Club training on the Vince Herbert Oval. The All Gauge Model Railway Club joined the association in 1982, while Redsox Baseball Club formed the following year. Mater Hill Cricket Club joined the centre in 1987 and in 1989 the basketball stadium was officially opened and Southern Districts Spartans joined in the centre.
The weather was not kind to the major fundraiser the Crackerjack Carnival for a number of years and in 1994 it was moved to its present timeslot. The Carina Leagues Triathlon Club has its beginnings in 1996. Each and every year there have been more and more improvements made to the facilities at the centre. The most notable in recent times was the official opening of the Trevor Bishop Indoor Pool in October 2007.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Camp Hill Carina Welfare Association. It has only had four presidents in those fifty years, testimony to the dedication, hard work and devotion members showed in serving the local community. The first president was Jack Ryan until his untimely death in 1958, Mick Foley for 21 years until 1979, then came Rowly Cowan until his resignation in 1993.
The Clem Jones Centre today is the hub of many sports in the district and club members enjoy a wide variety of physical activities and entertainment. The centre focuses on youth development and it pleasing that the foresight of the founding members of the Camp Hill Carina Welfare Association is of benefit to today’s youth as it has done so now for over 50 years.