A year after bushfires destroyed its school and 18 of its 60 homes, the small town of Bobin is rallying around its community hall

Bobin School of Arts Hall on the NSW mid-north coast became an important rallying point for the local community when bushfires struck in November last year. Picture: Julia Driscoll
Bobin School of Arts Hall on the NSW mid-north coast became an important rallying point for the local community when bushfires struck in November last year. Picture: Julia Driscoll

No wonder the people of Bobin treasure their School of Arts Hall.

When devastating bushfires swept through the mid-north coast of NSW in November last year destroying 18 homes in Bobin along with its historic school house, the community hall survived to become a vital rallying point for the residents of the small town.

Hall president Peter Schouten said the building provided not only a base for local emergency crews but somewhere for people to come together.

"The hall is the only focal point in the community and the only public building in the area, so it was a godsend we didn't lose it during the fire," Mr Schouten said.

Community members fought to save the hall, using garden hoses to douse it against airborne embers.

Bobin resident and hall president Peter Schouten.

Bobin resident and hall president Peter Schouten.

"There was not one community member that was not affected by the fire," Mr Schouten said.

At the height of the fire, which struck on November 8 and destroyed 18 of Bobin's 60 homes, the School of Arts Hall became an operational hub for emergency personnel as well as a drop-off point for donations.

But as the crisis wore on, Mr Schouten said it became clear there was not enough space inside and outside the building.

One of the scenes of devastation in the aftermath of the November 2019 Bobin bushfire.

One of the scenes of devastation in the aftermath of the November 2019 Bobin bushfire.

However, thanks to grant of almost $25,000 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, the hall is set to get an outdoor shaded area, which will provide more space for the people of Bobin to come together.

Mr Schouten said the grant would go a long way, especially when emergency services like the RFS and SES gathered for training sessions.

A grant of almost $25,000 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal will go towards a permanent outdoor shaded area at Bobin's community hall, providing more space for locals to come together. Picture: Bobin Hall/Facebook

A grant of almost $25,000 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal will go towards a permanent outdoor shaded area at Bobin's community hall, providing more space for locals to come together. Picture: Bobin Hall/Facebook

"It soon became obvious during the fire we needed a more permanent space," he said. "The grant will certainly be useful for social gatherings and other events at the hall. It means a hell of a lot."

Work on the shelter would begin following approval from the local council.

This story This small town is rallying around its community's heart first appeared on The Canberra Times.