Sawtell Dance Hall to Refind its Boogie

The Sawtell Reserve Hall is set to receive a makeover igniting memories of old where it was a hub of
social activity.

The Reserve Hall hosted much anticipated dances throughout the year with local and visiting bands,
bingo during holiday periods, church services, concerts, boxing training and matches, and
community events.

Coffs Harbour Council Mayor Councillor Paul Amos said “this has been a valued place for the local
community and visitors for over 100 years, since the first reserve hall building was constructed in 1911. Bringing this hall back to life provides our current generations a glimpse of what our social life
used to be like. It’s a brilliant project.”

Sawtell Dance Hall to Refind its Boogie

The current large timber hall was the second hall to be built on the reserve in 1929, as the 1911 hall
had quickly become too small. The first hall was then used as a temporary school and later as
refreshment rooms, operated for much time by Mrs Richardson infamous for scones and sponge

Sawtell Dance Hall to Refind its Boogie

As the centenary of the current hall approaches, upgrades of equitable access, new amenities, a
kitchen and appropriate repairs and conservation works will bring it back into use again.

The aim is to create a flexible and adaptable space that can be turned to suit any function such as:

  • Conferences/workshops
  • film nights
  • dances
  • parties, weddings, dinners
  • games for holiday makers
  • community fundraisers.

The proposed upgrades and changes, which will help this hall continue in its important community
role, are sensitive to its assessed heritage values.

Stage 1 restoration is a $500,000 project with 50/50 funding between Coffs Harbour City Council and
Crown Reserves Improvement Fund. This stage will ensure the structural integrity and
weather/vermin proofing of the building, including reroofing and repairs to the subfloor.

The following stages will see the upgrade of the building including recladding, new windows and
doors, installation of commercial kitchen and construction of a fully accessible adjoining amenity
building. All works will be contingent on the availability of funding.

The Historic Heritage Assessment, prepared by Clarence Heritage concludes with the following
statement of significance:

The Sawtell Reserve Hall demonstrates historical significance and rarity as a weatherboard
public building from 1929 of which few survive in Coffs Harbour. It demonstrates exceptional
social significance as for its association and contribution to the development of community
life of Sawtell. Replacing a previous hall built in 1911, it demonstrates a long standing and
ongoing continuous use on this reserve. Aesthetically it is an important example of a timber
and iron vernacular construction of locally derived material and demonstrates the
importance of timber as an early building material which was connected to economic growth
of the town and the development of the jetty and the railway.