3398 2107 56 Zahel Street, Carina

Our History

The Clem Jones Centre is an organisation that has thrived on the support of many community-minded people over a very long period of time. 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 had its very early beginnings when the Camp Hill Carina Branch of the Australian Labor Party requested that Clem Jones approach the Brisbane City Council about repurposing the 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 which 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 and facilities which now support more than 7,000 registered players across 19 different sports.

In November of 1957 the first fundraising event was a sports day with track and field events and 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 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 Road was a simple 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. It was referred to as the Gravel Pit. The Association gave them $40 to erect a light pole for evening training, and there were no change rooms or toilets.

In the summer of 1962, the JJ 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 Junior Hockey Club played on two fields on the Vince Herbert Oval in 1965 and construction started on the 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. Archery and field events were conducted on Kyle Little oval, and swimming races were held in the new 50m pool. What is now known as the Carina Leagues CJ’s Swim Club was founded in that year as well.

More progress saw the opening of Chadwick Hall in 1967, the forerunner to the Carina Leagues Club which formed in 1971. The 12m pool was heated for Learn to Swim classes in 1972, when then pool manager Roy Holland lent the Association his oil heater.

The Carina Junior Rugby League Club moved from Chadwick Hall into a new clubhouse named after Kev Buckmaster in 1973. In 1974 the construction of the outside 25m pool began, originally intended for winter training as at the time the 50m pool was not heated.

The first Crackerjack Carnivals was held on 6th March 1976 on the Alan Ramsay Oval, where Wynnum-Manly Cricket Club established their home ground. The Crackerjack Carnival was a very popular annual event which served as a major fundraiser for the Association for many years. Part of the 1978 festivities was a boat show held in the 50m swimming pool, and the sight of a row of speedboats lined up in the suburban pool made for quite the spectacle. Tennis courts were a new addition to the Centre in 1979.

The Centre provided further opportunity for aspiring athletes in 1981 when the Thompson Estate Eastern Suburbs Athletic Club commenced training on the Vince Herbert Oval. The All Gauge Model Railway Club joined the Association in 1982, operating out of an old demountable school classroom. Redsox Baseball Club formed the following year, and 1983 also saw the beginnings of the “old gym” in the repurposed change room facilities. Most of the gym equipment was built in an onsite workshop by various staff.

In 1984 the netball courts were bituminised, and a major restoration was performed on the children’s playground. Mater Hill Cricket Club joined the centre in 1987, and formed the subsidiary Carina Junior Cricket club shortly after. In 1989 the basketball stadium was officially opened, after which the Southern Districts Spartans joined the Centre. In 1990 the World Under 21 Snooker Championship was held in the new basketball stadium, while 1993 saw the construction of new practice wickets for the Mater Hill Cricket Club.

The Carina Leagues Triathlon Club has its beginnings in 1996, and the Balmoral Little Athletics Club joined the Centre in 1997. In 1999 the 50m pool was heated.

The 2000s saw the Centre’s facilities increase further both in quality and in opportunity. In 2000 major lighting projects were completed at the cricket and baseball facilities, and in 2001 a new aerobics room and amenities block was officially opened at the pool complex. In 2002 the Carina Leagues Club sponsored the installation and ongoing maintenance of the Patricia Bellamy Memorial Playground, and in April 2006 the Clem Jones Centre Sports Club was established to operate the Carina Bowls Club.

October 2007 marked the opening of the Trevor Bishop Indoor Pool, which allowed the Centre to offer Learn to Swim year-round in the heated indoor environment. This pool now hosts some 2,000 Learn to Swim lessons per week, as well as providing hydrotherapy for a great number of clients. In 2010 the Centre’s rehabilitation services were further expanded when the Clem Jones Centre Physio and Rehab Clinic joined as a tenant.

Unfortunately, weather was not kind to the Crackerjack Carnival for a number of years and in 2014 the difficult decision was made to cancel the event in its 39th year. Better news came the year after, however, when the Skin Fitness Clinic relocated its premises to the Centre.

In 64 years of operation, the Camp Hill Carina Welfare Association has only had five presidents, a testimony to the dedication, hard work and devotion that these great men have had 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 Hon. Terry Mackenroth then served as president and chairman of trustees for 25 years until his passing in 2018, after which our long-term treasurer, Kevin Cairns, became the fifth and current president of the Association.

In 2008, following the untimely passing of the previous custodian Trevor Bishop, Terry Mackenroth approached Steve Heald and asked if he would take over the running of the complex until someone more permanent could be found. In excess of 13 years later it seems they still have not found someone, as Steve is still at the helm of the Centre as CEO.

Steve’s financial expertise has brought the Centre great success during his tenure, and has allowed the Association to make significant improvements to the facilities on offer. In 2009 the Eastern Suburbs Hockey Club joined the Centre and the Association responded by constructing an industry leading, state of the art hockey facility, which was completed in 2010. That year also saw a major renovation of the outside 25m, slide pool and child wading pool, and the founding of the Clem Jones Centre Boxing Club which initially operated out of the pool facilities.

In 2011 the Centre welcomed its newest addition, the relocated Carina Men’s Shed, and an ice tub recovery centre was built for the Carina Leagues Triathlon Club. In 2012 a purpose-built facility for the Clem Jones Centre Boxing Club was completed, and the Carina Men’s Shed facility was finalised the year after. In 2014 a major renovation of the carparks and internal road systems was performed to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of the rapidly expanding facility.

In 2017 the Centre embarked on its largest development to date: the Terry Mackenroth Community Gymnasium. While Terry tragically did not live to see the opening of his namesake in May 2018, the “new gym” has been a tremendous success, now facilitating more than 80 group fitness classes per week for its base of members which exceeds 2,000.

Over 5 years on, and as the 42 acres on the corner of the now bustling Stanley and Creek Roads embarks on its next chapter: the development of an industry-leading allied health precinct, it is pleasing to reflect on how the bold vision of the founding members of the Camp Hill Carina Welfare Association has been realised. The Association’s founding charter of increasing youth participation in community sport is echoed each day in the vibrant fields, courts, clubhouses, and pools that we call home.