There’s no sapphire big enough to compare to the beauty that is the Willows in the Gemfields. Tucked away in the bush, this special little place is home to a tight-knit and friendly community that takes pride in making their town comfortable and accessible for locals and visitors.
At the heart of the town is the Willows Recreation Club (the club), a multi-purpose building that triples as the town’s only pub, event space and hangout spot.
Dave Turkington, president of the Willows Recreation and Progress Association (the association) has been involved in the evolution of the club since it was constructed by local volunteers over 20 years ago.
‘What started out as basically a shed, has changed a lot over the years,’ he said.
‘Locals have raised money to outfit the kitchen, purchase freezers and add a cold storage room.’
As part of council’s 2022-23 capital budget, the Willows Hall received some major upgrades. Two air conditioners were installed, and an extension with a wheelchair-accessible toilet was added. The hall was also fully insulated and repainted, and a commercial-quality exhaust system was added to the kitchen.
‘The biggest difference with the refurb is that now can offer various activities in a comfortable setting regardless of the summer heat or winter cold,’ Dave continued.
‘The wheel-chair accessible toilet is great too because we have a lot of seniors here and before you’d have to walk around back to get to the public toilets.’
Since the renovations, Dave and locals have been busy going through much of the memorabilia that used to hang on the walls.
‘All that’s left is to add the personality back and it’ll be good as new.’
Dave is working with other locals to have a war memorial display, as well as a fossicking display and memories wall.
‘I love living in the Willows and I’m proud of the town it’s become,’ said Dave.
Other halls in the Central Highlands have also received upgrades this year including Sapphire, Rubyvale, and Comet halls.