|Pitching in for the bush . . . Loges on the job at Alma Oval, Broken Hill. Picture courtesy: The Barrier Daily Truth|
Stadium Australia Head Curator Graeme Logan has answered a plea from the townsfolk of Broken Hill to carry out a renovation rescue of their local sportsground.
Broken Hill Council’s Parks & Gardens crew reached out to Logan, one of the most experienced turf men in the business, and he drove 14 hours out to Broken Hill (population 18,000) last week to help the locals prepare their main ground Alma Oval for a summer of sport.
The man affectionately known in the turf industry as Loges heads up the grounds team that is preparing the Stadium Australia surface for the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final on Sunday 30 September.
But as busy as he is at this time of year, Logan said he had to find time to help out the local grounds crew in Broken Hill who were in desperate need of help.
“The people of Outback NSW truly love their sport but their ability to play sport on local grounds is often limited by the condition of the arenas that are prepared under rugged environmental conditions and often without a lot of turf industry experience,” explained Logan.
“Even the best batsmen in Broken Hill struggled to hit a ball to the boundary along the ground at Alma Oval last cricket season, and they couldn’t believe their eyes as the ground was transformed.
“This renovation has the potential to change the way they play sport in Broken Hill and the training that the local grounds team received last week from senior people in the industry will stand them in good stead for the future.”
Logan, who is also the vice-president of the Sports Turf Association, was joined in Broken Hill by fellow turf industry experts, STA President Chris Chapman, David May from Dad & Dave’s Turf, and Jerry Spencer, a chemical and technical advisor from Gilba Solutions. All four men gave up their time to help out in Broken Hill.
Logan worked all week with Broken Hill Council’s Parks and Open Spaces team to undertake a $17,250 upgrade of the Alma Oval surface and to pass on his knowledge and expertise to the local grounds crew.
“The Broken Hill locals are the nicest people you would ever meet and they are very appreciative of what we are doing,” Logan said. “Everyone is excited about the prospect of getting the ground renovated and in good shape for summer.
“We have scarified the outfield, lowered the height of the grass, and raised the pitch 150mm. We returfed the pitch, levelled it and rolled it, before handing the people of Broken Hill back their ground on Saturday.”
Broken Hill City Council’s Asset Planner of Open Spaces, Jarred Paull, said Logan’s visit was a gesture of remarkable generosity.
“It’s just amazing to have a groundsman like Graeme volunteer his time to train our guys and pass on his knowledge for the benefit of outback sport.”
Christine McLoughlin, the Chairman of Venues NSW, the government agency that oversees the operations of Stadium Australia, sent her appreciation to curator Logan and his turf industry colleagues.
“I grew up in a small town in NSW and know only too well how sport and recreation is often the glue in rural communities – promoting social inclusion and creating a sense of connection,” Ms McLoughlin said.
“For the Stadium Australia head curator to donate his time and share his vast knowledge and skills to the people in Broken Hill is another wonderful example of how our Venues NSW teams are making a substantial contribution to worthy community causes throughout NSW.”
Broken Hill is an inland mining city in Outback NSW, close to the South Australian border in the Barrier Range. It operates on South Australian time. Adelaide (5 hours’ drive) is the closest major city and it is 1,144km (124 hours’ drive) from Sydney.
AFL and cricket are the major sports in Broken Hill. There are four local teams in the Broken Hill Australian Football League. But there is rugby league too – with the Wilcannia Boomerangs recently winning their fifth straight Outback Rugby League Premiership with a hard-fought 24-22 win over the Menindee Yabbies.