Boatshed Rebuild

Last updated: Thursday 26th November. - The final update.

The History:

In 1935, the 1st Epping Scout Group started a Sea Scout section.  In 1939, the Group was fortunate to obtain a boatshed site at Meadowbank when AWA handed over their jetty, previously used for staff transport to the Homebush transmitter site.  The original shed was built with scrap timber under wartime rationing and opened in 1942, rebuilt in the 1950s, and later replaced with the brick structure shown here which opened in 1977 and included a rigging deck that used the concrete piers of the original building.  Although the Sea Scout section merged into the general Scout Troop in October 1984 the Group has continued running sailing and boating activities continuously to this day.

Extracted from the 1st Epping Scout Group Annual Report 1997.

The new building was completed on 14th October 2020.  The official opening was carried out by John Alexander AOM MP, Federal Minister for Bennelong, and Victor Dominello, State Member for Ryde on 21st November.  Because COVID-19 restrictions limited attendance numbers, a subsequent event was held on 28th March 2021 which was attended by many current and past members of the Epping Scout Group.

The Project:

Around 2005, the Group Committee started putting money aside because they knew that the building was suffering from 25 years of the salt spray, the weather and more recently the effects from the ferries as they berthed at the nearby public ferry terminal.  At the end of 2015, the Group formed a committee to identify the projected requirements, design an affordable building that would hopefully meet the needs of the Group for the next 30 to 40 years and take the project to completion.  The new Boatshed floor will increase from 89m2 to 132m2 with an extension at the rear which leads to an L-shaped rigging deck.  The timber skid ramp is being replaced with a much safer gangway and floating pontoon to launch and retrieve the boats and canoes.  The floor and roof will be raised by 320 mm.  This is based on the recent and projected rise in sea levels (and a bit more), to maintain a dry floor.  The new roof will complement the roof design of the adjacent, recently completed Ferry Wharf.

After 4½ years of meetings with Ryde Council, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), our architect, engineers and Scouts NSW, the construction is now ready to commence.    

Thanks to John and Brent Carolan from Skope Constructions for accepting the responsibility of providing the Epping Scout Group and Scouts NSW with a new facility that will enable the Scouts to experience sailing and canoeing in a safe and enjoyable environment well into the middle of the 21st century. 

The Construction:

30th April 2020 was the special day when the safety fencing was erected around the construction site.

5th May.  The doors have gone and the roof is coming off. 

6th May.  The signage has has gone up while the walls are starting to come down.  Today John Alexander, Federal MP for Bennelong and Jane Siebum, CEO for Scouts NSW, visited to check out the site and both were very pleased with the progress and that the construction was underway.  They were shown around by Brent and John Carolan from Skope Constructions.  Thanks to John Alexander for providing the Epping Scout Group with a $350,000 grant from the Federal Government in 2019 to assist with the construction.

8th May.  Only the Council toilet is left standing and the damaged concrete floor has been cut back so that the face can be sealed to prevent the ingress of water again.  The rigging deck has been removed to reveal the concrete piers that probably date back to the early 1940's.  The rigging deck that we have used for the last 40 years was previously the floor space of the original building.

12th May.  The rigging deck, skid ramp and their supports have been removed and put to rest.  The new piers will be protected by the plastic tubing that is visible on the slab.  The concrete steps are being removed.

14th May.  Some of the new plastic sleeves to hold the new piers.  This shows the size of the building extension and the width of the new rigging deck.

18th May.  The last of the plastic sleeves for the new piers are being secured prior to the sleeves being filled with concrete tomorrow.  This gives an idea of the increase in size.  The 9 taller piers at the right are for the building extension while the remaining ones are for the rigging deck.

19th May.  The sleeves are filled with concrete.  Each pier is secured with 3 stainless steel rods inserted 500mm into the rock shelf.

30th May.  As the weather has been very favourable over the last few weeks, progress has been ahead of schedule so there has not been any activity on site this week.  

4th June.  Preparation of the form work commenced on 1st June and will be continuing until the end of next week.  The new floor is scheduled to be poured on Friday 12th June.

9th June.  Not a lot of excitement while the formwork and reinforcing steel are set up for the new floor.

11th June.  Everything is ready for tomorrow's concrete pour.

12th June.  The slab was poured during light rain but everything went very well.  The green colouring is from the water proofing additive.

By Sunday it had mostly dried out.  Space for the 4.5m wide rigging deck to the right is not visible here.  The drains were covered during the pour.  The pooling of the remaining water is in the correct positions. 

17th June.  The blocks have arrived and 2 layers have been laid most of the way round.  It is too late to change the positions of the doors.

and by the next day the walls have been half built.

19th June.  Halfway up the wall has now been laid.  Formwork is being put in place to enable the blocks to be filled with concrete on Monday.  I would like to see the Big Bad Wolf try to blow this one down.

22nd June.  The concreters were back today to fill the lower half of the block walls.

24th June.  The bricklayers were back over the last 2 days to complete the top half of the walls.  The spaces for the doors and windows are now very obvious.

3rd July.  2 Months into the construction has provided us with a new set of foundations for the rigging deck, the concrete slab and the block walls completed and rendered.  Next stage will be the roof and rigging deck. 

6th July.  The exterior rendering is almost complete.  Still awaiting the final colour to be applied.   Note the adjacent Council toilet has been rendered to match.

9th July.  The formwork has now started to be laid to support the rigging deck.  The new L-shaped deck will provide us with an additional 6m x 10m rigging space.

17th July.  More of the rigging deck formwork has been completed at the rear of the building.  Away from the construction site, the roof, wall and door colours have been discussed and nearly settled.  The picture below shows the proposed colours for the roof, walls and doors.   A lot of discussion and negotiation has been going on over the gangway and pontoon.  The 3m wide gangway will have a minimesh surface leading to the pontoon which will provide a flat 6m x 4m minimesh surface sitting 200mm above the waterline. 

24th July.  The driveway is prepared and ready for the concrete pour, scheduled for Monday morning.  Repairs to the sea wall underneath the building will be carried out soon to prevent any further erosion below the concrete slab.  Fabrication of the roof trusses has commenced so the roof will be coming soon.  The order for the gangway and pontoon has been placed.  It should take about 4 weeks to build these and they will be brought to the site ready to be installed.

29th July.  3 months into the construction, the concrete slab driveway was poured today after the previous 2 days were too wet.  It looks very impressive and will never need painting.

31st July.  The exterior walls have now been painted.

The view through the kitchen window.  

1st Aug.  I had lovely lunch with my wife, Judy, at the Fork and Spoon Cafe, this is the view of the boatshed.  It blends in very well with the surroundings.

11th Aug.  There has been no activity at the boatshed for just over a week but there will be lots of action coming soon.  The roof trusses are due to be delivered on Thursday and installed next week.   The roof and gables will be commenced soon after.  The big excitement will be the closer to the end of August when the pontoon and gangway are scheduled to be delivered and installed.

15th Aug.  The roof trusses have arrived but didn't justify a photo until the builder sent through some photos taken from their drone.

Photo: Courtesy of John.

22nd Aug.  Over the last week, all of the roof trusses were installed.  Measurements were taken on Friday to ensure the roof is the correct size.  

There will not be much activity until the end of the month when everything will be happening.  The roof goes on, the final piles will be set deep into the river bed, rigging deck will be completed and the pontoon and gangway will arrive and be connected.  The internal work will be completed.  We are still on schedule for completion by mid September.

28th Aug.  During this week, the formwork for the valley between the two roof sections was completed.  On Friday, the insulation was secured between the roof trusses and all of the roof for the main section of the building was laid.  What a difference a roof makes.  The remainder should be completed on Monday.  

Photo: Courtesy of Tymon.

2nd Sept.  The 4 holes for the timber piles were drilled yesterday.  The barge came back again today to install the timber piles into the holes.  With a lot of banging, the timber piles were securely buried about 1.5 to 2 metres into the mud of the riverbed.  The electrical wiring and building of the internal toilet are almost complete. 

Turpentine timber has been chosen because it is resistant to weather, rot, marine borers and termites which makes it ideal for marine pilings in Australia.  The barge should be back later in the week to install 2 metal support piers which will be used to secure the pontoon.

4th Sept.  The 3 roller doors are now in place and slide very smoothly.  The final piers have been installed.  The 4 timber ones will support the corner of the rigging deck while the other 2 are steel for the pontoon supports.  The timber ones will be cut down to the required heights.  The final bearers and joists for the deck will be bolted on and the gangway and pontoon are expected to arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.  Stay tuned for more updates. 

11th Sept.  The timber piers were trimmed to the correct height and the bearers for the corner of the rigging deck have been attached.  The 2 steel piers (black) that will secure the pontoon have been sleeved with HDPE and capped.  The roof ends are being trimmed before the gables are installed and the downpipes have been connected to the gutters.  The contrasting colour of the roller doors against the wall is now apparent.  Delivery of the pontoon and gangway has been delayed until next week.

15th Sep.  The big day has come.  This morning the pontoon and gangway were floated across the river and now it looks so much more like a boatshed.  To give an idea of the improvements, the guy with the green shirt (below) would be standing further out than the end of the skid ramp.  There are 6 metres of rigging deck plus 10 metres of gangway before you hit the 6m x 4m pontoon.

Photo: Courtesy of Tymon

16th Sep.  Work on installing the decking timbers commenced today and the second coat of paint on the interior walls is almost complete.  These, the installation of the kitchen and the steps down to the rocks, are the last of the big ticket items to be completed - apart from the clean up.  

18th Sep.  As the construction draws to a close, the finishing touches continue.  The rigging deck is due to be completed by early next week, the lights are on and the mobile phones and drills are being charged again.

23rd Sep.  A view of the boatshed at night.  Christmas party bookings will be taken soon.  The deck is almost complete with the excess bearers cut back to the required length and most of the balustrade in place.  The step treads would have been fitted but the tide came in earlier than the builder was expecting.  New turf has been laid and the Fire Safety equipment was installed.  The kitchen cupboards, sink and benchtop have been delivered and are ready to be installed.  Most of the builders' hardware has been removed along with the security fencing.  Very little left to do.  Yes, the roof gables will be closed off with clear polycarbonate sheeting and the timber doors will not stay green.

Photo: Courtesy of Alan

1st Oct.  We had the final inspection yesterday to identify any defects or outstanding issues.  As expected, there were a few but nothing major because the significant items had already been addressed to our satisfaction.  The remaining tasks will be completed over the next couple of days which include installing the handrail for the steps, the toe rail around the base of the balustrade, attaching the bollards to the edge of the driveway and removing the yellow snake that was catching any debris that went into the water I was told that there are almost 4,000 screws holding the rigging deck in place.  

Photo: Courtesy of John.

9th Oct.  Most of the rectification items have now been completed.  The building signs have been installed and the turf is still mostly green thanks to Alan's frequent watering.  The materials for the boat racks have been delivered.  Still waiting on access to the building to start erecting them.

14th Oct.  An exciting day when Rhys, the Project Manager from Skope Constructions, handed over the key to our new boatshed.  Although there are still a few items to be completed, we now have limited access to the building.  Our next stage will be to fit out the inside of the building including building the boat storage racks, racks for the PFDs, paddles and masts.  Then we can return the boats, canoes and everything else that has been stored since it was removed over the Australia Day weekend 9 months ago.

I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the last 5 years to finally get us to this incredible milestone.  It has been a very long journey for everyone.  A full list of credits will be posted soon.

22nd Oct.  The deck needed an extra coat of slip resistant paint.  Alan and I worked for most of the day either painting the edges or using a decking brush to do the remainder.  It is times like this when a slightly smaller deck would have been nice.  

On completion, this final coat has made the deck looks FANTASTIC.

25th Oct.  We organised a working bee with some 1st Epping Rovers and some sailing people.  This was to erect the boat racks and install security cameras and some other internal fixtures.  Although it rained most of the day, some of us managed to remain dry while others were in and out either getting or staying wet.  The main part of the boat racking is now complete with the plastic rollers and timber slides still to be done as well as some of the canoe racks.  Five boats and two canoes were brought back on Thursday evening (thanks to Tim, Tymon and myself) so that we could make sure that these would fit and without too much wasted space. 

27th Oct.  There have been delays in the delivery of materials required to complete some of the outstanding items.  We hope that this has now been resolved.  However, mother nature stepped in again yesterday and it was too wet for any outside work.  Understandably, the builders would prefer to come only once to complete the internal and external items.  However, today the rain cleared at around 11am as Jane Siebum (Scouts NSW CEO) and representatives for Properties, Finance, Risk, IT, Commerce and Marketing started arriving to inspect the almost completed facility.  At the same time, the builders were able to complete most of the outstanding tasks.  There are still a few that they will need to come back soon to finish off.  In the meantime, we are able to work on more of the internals in readiness for the youth members.   What a difference a day makes between the wet rigging deck and a dry rigging deck with a white toe rail to fill the gap at the bottom of the balustrade.

21st Nov.  Today was the Official Opening of the boatshed.  It was attended by John Alexander OAM MP, Federal Member for Bennelong, Victor Dominello, State Member for Ryde, representatives from Scouts NSW, the Construction team, Project team members of the Epping Scout Group and some family members.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we needed to limit numbers who attended this event.  We will be organising a Group Opening early in 2021 when we hope that restrictions will have been eased to allow more people to be able to participate.

John Alexander MP unveiling the plaque and Victor Dominello cutting the ribbon.

The VIPs - Alan Cunningham (Project Manager), Peter Buckley (Group Leader), John Alexander MP (Federal Member for Bennelong), Victor Dominello (State Member for Ryde), Peter Webb (State Commissioner, Scouts NSW), Emma Whitworth (Architect), John Carolan (Director, Skope Constructions).

Recognising the contribution from the Commonwealth and State Government grants.

The Crowd on the Rigging Deck.

David, Tom and Rohan distributing sandwiches.

Keith with Tymon and his artwork.

Tymon and his artwork.

A display of boats on the Deck, gangway and moored to the Pontoon.

Thank you to my wonderful family.

The New Building Plaque.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to enabling this project to come to fruition.  We couldn't have done it without the abundance of effort and time that was needed to get us over the line.  There were many times over the last 5 years that I have wondered if we had done the right thing in persevering with this.  We could have take the easy route and demolished the old building and relinquished the lease back to RMS.  Now seeing and using the fantastic facility that will continue to provide sailing and other water activities well into the middle of this century, I can sit back and be very proud of the legacy that will stay with the Group and the Scout Association to benefit the youth of today and tomorrow for many years to come.  

25th Nov.  The Scouts putting the new facility to good use.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey as much as I have.

Peter Buckley
Epping Scout Group Leader
26th November 2020