Old-but-new Vietnam war shed joins military trail
By Jocelyn Watts
A shed destined for the Vietnam war is now basking in the Queensland sun after 45 years in storage at the Wallangarra Army base on the New South Wales border.
The shed that was to be used as a soldiers’ mess hall on the battlefields of Vietnam now stands proudly at the beach-side town of Toogoom located 16km from Hervey Bay.
Toogoom and District RSL Sub Branch president Ken Higgins said the shed was among hundreds manufactured for the Australian Army during the Vietnam conflict that ran between 1962 and 1972.
“These sheds were widely used as food and recreation halls,” the Vietnam veteran said.
“At Nui Dat we had one the same as this with a veranda at each end. We played darts at one end and at the other, the corporal ran the bar.
“By 1971, Australia was starting to pull out of Vietnam. These sheds were still being manufactured and stockpiled at Wallangarra. Many became surplus.
“We got onto this one through military contacts and just before last Anzac Day (2014) the army built it as an exercise, sending a dozen soldiers, an engineer and a cook up here.”
The Toogoom Community Hall became a small army base where the soldiers showered and ate while camping nearby during the construction period.
Local volunteers painted the building and lined it with the hardwood tongue and groove packing cases in which it came.
“The hardwood timber we put in added to the bracing. It’s so strong that it’s cyclone proof and authorities want to use it as an emergency centre,” Mr Higgins said.
“It’s self-contained and wired for a generator. If the power goes out we just turn the generator on and everything runs as normal.
“So if we do have a disaster such as a flood or a cyclone, people can at least come here, get a meal and be comfortable out of the weather.”
Officially opened on Sunday, June 14, 2015, the old-but-new shed is a tribute to the Vietnam War.
“The Toogoom sub-branch is proud of its new home,” Mr Higgins said.
“It is expected to be on the proposed Fraser Coast Military Trail from Maryborough to Hervey Bay and Toogoom.
“This is not about talking war; there’s nothing glorious about war. We want to make this a pleasant, enjoyable place to come to and be used by all and sundry.
“Cadets will use it and we plan to run community health programs and have speakers come here to talk about such things as rural fire fighting and first aid.
“Since we got our shed, men’s shelters, sporting clubs and Scouts have been putting them up in other places across Australia.
“It’s amazing that in 2015 as we commemorate 100 years since the Gallipoli landings and 50 years since the middle of the Vietnam war, these sheds built by Lysaght then are now seeing daylight and that company is still one big family.
“It’s a pretty impressive performance. The steel came out of the packing in good nick – there was no rust. Almost everyone who comes in says: ‘Just look how thick that steel is!'”
The Vietnam memorial at Toogoom is expected to be a highlight on the proposed Fraser Coast Military Trail that also takes in Maryborough’s military museum, cenotaph and memorial gates, airport, air raid shelter and Duncan Chapman Memorial as well as the Z Force training ground on Fraser Island.