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A Shed Away From Home 

Corin Mackay    September 17, 2023    3 min read   

By Corin Mackay

(Left to right) Steve, Peter, Clayton, Brian, John and Peter playing cards in the top shed.
(Left to right) Steve, Peter, Clayton, Brian, John and Peter playing cards in the top shed.

The Forest Lake Men’s Shed is a home away from home for many local retirees, offering a space for men to pursue a social life among peers from age 18 and over.

In January 2015, Steve Bruford placed an article in the Lake News to express interest in forming a Forest Lake branch of the Australian Men’s Shed Association.

After a follow-up unmanned display stand in the Forest Lake Village attracted another twenty interested men in a week, it was confirmed that such a group would be a welcome addition to the Forest Lake community.

In March 2017 at a crime awareness meeting in the Salvation Army hall, Steve managed to get attendees Milton Dick MP and Leanne Enoch MP on board with his idea

Eventually, with the additional help of Forest Lake Ward Councillor Charles Strunk, Steve gained access to the shed as it currently is in August of the same year, and had it officially opened by Leanne in December.

Construction of the social shed, a second, slightly smaller building, began in March 2019, with the aid of grants from the federal government and Brisbane city council. 

Currently, the Men’s Shed offers art and painting on Monday, a few games of 500 cards on Tuesday and Friday, and clay modelling and painting on Wednesdays in the social shed, while the bottom, larger shed is open week-round for woodwork and crafting.

The Forest Lake branch is one of 1,200 men’s, women’s and general community sheds across the country, all part of the larger Australian Men’s Shed Association.

Six regular card players, Steve, Peter, Clayton, Brian, John and Peter, come in at 9 am on Tuesdays and Fridays, and finish up around noon.

John, an ex-chemist, is the card counter in the game of 500 that the men play.

“Cards are a great pass-time, great for socialising, talking about our lives, politics, the weather, having a laugh and a joke,” he said.

“We can increase dexterity from shuffling, mental acuity from watching and playing the cards, it all helps.”

The mens’ history is an eclectic mix, with some, like Steve, hailing from a history in business work, and others, like Brian and John, from backgrounds in chemistry.

The card players are only there two days a week, but the woodworkers downstairs come in three or four days a week, according to Clayton, a now-retired textile researcher and butcher.

Paintings of oceanscapes, yachts and rocky shores line the shed walls, all hand made by the Monday painters, but unseen by anyone outside of the shed.

John explained that the paintings usually are only seen during a rare exhibition, such as the upcoming Forest Lake community festival.

“We sell the paintings, even have exhibitions of our Men’s Shed paintings, the trouble is that no one outside the shed sees them. They go completely unnoticed,” said John.

Six years on, the Men’s Shed offers comradery, and a space for men to exist around peers with similar experiences, to socialise and talk about the past, present and future.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, the almost 60 men get along like life-long friends, with even the most recent members welcomed with open arms.

To get in contact with the Men’s Shed, message them on their Facebook page, or email fl_mensshed@yahoo.com.

Corin Mackay