Burleigh Heads Scout

Our Beginnings

Our group commenced in 1947 as an idea of Col McKenna, the local Burleigh Heads State School Principal, who thought it would be a good for the youth of the community of Burleigh Heads to have an opportunity to be involved in scouting. Contrary to reputed history, the group did not commence at the Burleigh Heads State School but in fact held their first meetings, and a number following, on the beach at Burleigh Heads, using the adjacent land for activities.

Col McKenna, along with other teachers at the school, Howard Foster, Smythe and Wilson and Les Parker, joined the movement as the first Leaders of the Group. The Group commenced with both Cubs and Scouts sections meeting regularly at the beach until Les Parker's parents, Mr and Mrs. William George Parker, generously decided to donate the use of the land to the group so that they could build a hall to hold their meetings.

While the hall was being built, meetings were held in Nichols Plumbing shed at the end of Stephens Street and then later in the council buildings next door to the land. As in the tradition of scouting, the Hall was built through donation of materials and time as well as fundraising efforts through chook raffles, jam and cake stalls, selling Euchre playing cards and collecting donations with the “Magic Carpet”. The builder of the Hall, Claude Barber, built the Hall at cost on the condition that the Scouts helped out with the construction on the weekends and on holidays.

The hall was officially opened in 1952.

Our History : 1947 – 1970

There is evidence of the Burleigh Heads Scout group holding their first meeting in 1947 on the beach at Burleigh Heads. In 1948 the first meeting was held in the state school when Mr. G Mc Kenna (headmaster) was elected Group Scout Leader. Mr and Mrs. W.G. Parker donated the use of the land, on which the hall stands today, in 1949 to the youth of the area. The troop had 18 invested Tenderfoots and the pack, 10 invested Tenderpads and 15 One-Star Cubs. (43 boys).

Construction of the Hall commenced in 1951 and it was opened in 1952. Ownership of the land was transferred in 1963. Later, when the scout hall was extended, these buildings were named The Parker Training Centre in honour of the contributions made by William George Parker. In 1952, the original hall was completed with the aid of Lions, Apex and Rotary Clubs and a bank loan. Mr Claude Barber was the builder and the building was a fibro and hardwood construction. The building was built at cost with the labour being provided by the members and parents of the Group. There were three trustees of this hall and they were Mr Herb O’Malley, Mr Mills, and Mr Ted Ottaway. A descendant of Ted Ottaway, Ray, was a Cub Scout Leader.

In 1951 we saw Mr Batterhorn as Group Leader followed by Mr McNeill in 1952. A descendant of the original Parkers, Mr Les Parker. took over as Group Leader in 1953 and held office until 1958. The membership of the Group at that time was 52 boys.

Mr Percy Brown became Group Leader in 1959 and continued in this role until 1971. Mr Brown was issued his warrant by Sir Henry Abel Smith and received a special Certificate of Good Service from the then Governor General of Australia Lord Casey. In the early 1960s, a hut was purchased for $10 from Tallebudgera Fitness Camp and transported to the Stephens Street site for the use of the Cubs. However, it was brought to the Group's attention at this time that the Girl Guides had nowhere to meet. The hut was lent to the Guides and was used by them for several years until they built their own hut at Burleigh West. The hut was used as a bunkhouse for campers using the site which became known as Camp Kallaroo. During this period, we also saw extensions to the original den and the purchase of additional land.

Our History : 1971 – 1995

In 1971 Mr Ray Mahoney commenced as Scouter In Charge. It was Ray’s vision and forward planning which instigated further extensions. 1977 to 1979 saw Col Nelson as Group Leader followed by Dudley McMillan from 1979 to 1981. Ray continued as a Scout Leader and returned to Scouter In Charge in 1981. He continued in this role until the beginning of 1984 when he returned to Scout Leader.

The group was then without a leader until 1986 when Ron Wilkie took on the role of Group Leader. The group then had 133 members. Ron continued until early 1987, when Ray Mahoney then became the Group Leader. In 1988 Ray left the Group to take up a District Scout Leader role on the District staff. 1989 Harold Preston (the Scout Leader) became Leader In Charge until 1990 when he changed his role to Group Leader. Harold continued in this role until the end of 1991 when he transferred to the Currumbin–Tugun Group.

1990 saw the admittance of females into the Cub Scout section with Burleigh Heads Group being the first Group in the district with 2 girl Cub Scouts. 1991 was the year the youngest section of the movement commenced and a Burleigh Joey Scout Mob opened for the 6-8 year olds.

Chris Harman, a Warranted Group Leader from New Zealand, became the Group Leader until 1994 when he left to return to New Zealand. John Shilton, who had returned to the Group as a Cub Scout Leader, again became Leader In Charge, but due to work commitments and study he resigned. John Smales, a Cub Scout Leader because Leader In Charge.

Our History : 1996 – 2003

By the beginning of 1996, the group was in desperate need of a Group Leader or the Group was on the verge of folding. Bruce MacKenzie, who was then Scout Leader, changed his role and became Group Leader.

Time and the elements had taken their toll on the buildings and were in desperate need of major repairs. Bruce made it his goal to restore the den and the other buildings to their former glory. Bruce resigned in July 1997 achieving most of the goals he set when he started out as Group Leader.

Julie Peterson, District Commissioner, became Leader in Charge for a short time until Trevor Patterson, a Cub Scout Leader with the group, was appointed to the role of Group Leader. In mid-1997 Trevor was unable to continue the role of Group Leader due to heavy work commitments and had to resign from the movement.

The Leader in Charge role was shared between Leaders Margaret King, Maree Butcher and Rodney Brown. The Group struggled but the experience of the Leaders kept the Group from closing. Towards the end of the year, Thursday Night Cub Scout Pack merged with Tuesday Night Pack due to the lack of Leaders. The group had approximately 45 youth members, and four leaders.

In April 1998, Steven Warrell transferred in as a Warranted Group Leader and accepted the role of Group Leader. The group then had one Joey Scout Mob, two Cub Scout Packs, one Scout Troop, one Venturer Unit, one Rover Crew and thirteen Leaders.

In June 1999, Steven Warrell resigned as Group Leader. District Adviser Julie McKernan changed her role and accepted the Group Leader role, the Secretary Trish Berryman and the Treasurer Kay Cook. In July 2000, Julie McKernan resigned as Group Leader of the Group. D.C Julie Petersen became Leader in Charge until a new Group Leader was appointed. In 2001, Tracey Dickson was appointed Group Leader, and Judy Whittaker was appointed assistant Group Leader.

The late 1990s and early 2000s had seen the group go through much change in leadership and the buildings were again in great need of repair. The floor need to be replaced in the main hall and this was achieved through a government grant.

Our History : 2004 – 2007

John Rodwell became Group Leader in 2004 and set on a path to relinquish the debt with branch, which had grown to a considerable sum. As the group had a history of just surviving financially, it was decided to sell the main hall and relocate to the land next door (formally used as a camping ground and Rover Hall). The Hall, which was on a separate title of approximately 600m2 at 30 Stephens Street, was sold in 2005. The debt with branch was paid out and the balance of funds placed in a development fund for the construction of new premises on the lot of 2800m2 at 32 Stephens Street.

In preparation for the new facilities and revamp of the Group, John Rodwell embarked on a grant acquisition campaign. He applied for, and received, almost $100,000 of new equipment for the group over a three year period during his reign as group Leader. In 2006, John needed to resign from the movement. He rejoined again in 2007 as Scout Leader.

Prior to leaving the group, John finalised plans for the new facility in consultation with the Group Council (other Leaders). These were signed off by the Chief Commissioner in late 2006, just prior to the Jamboree in Elmore Victoria in January of 2007. Construction of the new facility commenced in January 2007 and was completed in August 2007. Membership of the Group consisted on 52 youth members in Joey’s, Cubs and Scouts sections. The Venturers had closed in 2006.

Karen Andrews transferred from Mudgeeraba Group in 2006 as Assistant Group Leader to John Rodwell. In October of that year, she took over the reigns when John retired. Karen Andrews resigned from the Group in February 2007. The Group was left without a Leader In Charge so branch appointed Kay Johnson, the District Commissioner for Dolphin District, as Leader In Charge with the Group facing closure if they were unable to find a Group Leader in the coming six weeks. Roland Franz, who had been the Scout Leader since February 2005, was appointed the Leader In Charge by the end of February 2007, taking up the official role of Group Leader in March. Roland oversaw the development of the new facilities during 2007.

The development of the new facilities was undertaken by Vantre Projects, a company associated with Trevor Vievers and Vance Hobbs, both of whom were former scouts in their youth. Vance Hobbs was a Rover at Burleigh Heads some years prior. During the construction, the Group was unable to find alternative premises to conduct their meetings so a portion of the site containing the old bunkhouse was fenced off and the Group used this as a base to meet with storage containers being used to store equipment on the site.

This was less than desirable for functional facilities and the Group began to lose membership. The directive was given to the Section Leaders to buddy up with other Groups within reasonable driving distance and join in their programs until the new facilities were completed. As a result of the disruption cause by construction, the need to travel to different venues each week and the less than suitable temporary hall that was established, the Group's membership declined to 43 youth members.

After negotiation with Vantre, the development was split into two stages. The first stage, on the back half of the site housing the main Hall and Camp Kallaroo bunkhouse (an extension on top of the old Rover Hall), was completed and the Group was able to move into these premises in July. The remaining half of the site was completed in August 2007.

On the 8th of September 2007, the Chief Commissioner of Scouts – Qld Branch officially opened the new facility which was named the Vantre Facility in appreciation of Vantre Projects, the developers that build the project at mate’s rates for the Group. On this day, Camp Kallaroo was officially re-opened and the new Hall was again named the Parker Centre. A new commemorative plaque was mounted on the building in honour of the Parker family, some of whose descendants attended the ceremony.

2008 sees, as a result of the vision of John Rodwell, former Group Leader (for the redevelopment of a new facility) and the efforts of the current Group Leader, Roland Franz (in managing the development construction and marketing of the facility within the community and the scout movement), the group in a strong financial position. It has all new modern equipment and is self supporting from revenue derived from the facility. Due to the quality of leadership in the sections and facilities on offer, the Group has split the Cub Pack into two packs, opened a second Scout Troop and has Joeys, Venturers and Rovers sections operative with a youth membership of 87, 15 Leaders and approximately 12 Adult Support Members. This takes the membership well into the 100’s as we celebrate 100 years of scouting in Queensland and just commemorated 100 years of the worldwide scouting movement.

The Burleigh Heads Scout Group is setting new records in youth membership and is in the strongest financial and asset position in its history.


However, history has proven that the strength of the group and viability for the future is solely dependent on two key elements other than finances:

1. The quality of the programs being offered to our youth members and

2. Having sufficient capable Leaders (Adult members) to run those programs.


Fast Facts

First Hall Opened1952
New Facilities2007