Pint-sized Pine Rivers Hobby Shed raises thousands for veterans

29 June 2023
  • Mateship

Meet the dedicated team of volunteers who run the Pine Rivers Hobby Shed.

Pine Rivers RSL Sub Branch Hobby Shed

It started with a handmade storage box and a couple of quirky bottle lights that fetched a few bucks to support veterans and their families. 

Then, when demand for their crafts increased, members of the Citizens’ Auxiliary Hobby Shed at the Pine Rivers RSL Sub Branch turned to creative clocks, lovingly carved children’s toys, planter boxes and far more. 

Fast forward a couple of years and the Auxiliary has raked in thousands of dollars to support the Sub Branch and its members. And the small but mighty volunteer cohort is doing far more than just raising funds for veterans in their community, by also offering members and the general public a haven where they can learn and socialise.

Getting veterans out of the house

Woman drinking a cup of tea at Pine Rivers RSL Sub Branch 

“The Hobby Shed actually started as a way for our Sub Branch members to get out of the house, learn new skills, and socialise and interact with others,” Pine Rivers RSL Citizens’ Auxiliary President Nigel Wilson says. 

“It’s an area where anyone, male or female, can make use of the wide range of shed tools available for personal projects or to produce items sold by the Auxiliary to raise funds for the Sub Branch to operate. 

“And that’s why we’d really love to get the word out. Because being a part of the Hobby Shed can help those who are perhaps stuck at home and staring at the walls around them – which is particularly important for those suffering from PTSD. 

“We’ve found that just communication with others and getting out of your comfort zone is powerful, and we’ve got guys here who can teach them how to use tools and table saws so there are many possibilities and opportunities for those who would like to be a part of the Hobby Shed.” 

And Nigel would know. 

The pensioner has been President of the Auxiliary for close to three years and says he joined to get out of the house, stay active and learn some new skills. 

“I came as a volunteer, and I started off by mowing lawns and cleaning toilets. That was four and a half years ago,” Nigel says. 

“Then I started making bottles with lights in them and selling the odd one here and there to raise a bit extra and it snowballed. Then we started making the planter boxes and it took off like a rocket.” 

A core group of Auxiliary members and volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring the Hobby Shed to life, with each person bringing a valuable skillset to the proverbial table. 

“It’s a real team effort here, and each member does a different aspect of the work,” he says. 

“Take Di Schulte – she does floral work and arts and crafts. Then there’s Ross Whiley, who crafts wooden toys and flag boxes. 

“Then there’s Wayne Lord who is our vice president. Without him it would all fall apart as he handles the catalogues and the paperwork. 

“And then there’s Paul Scarborough who can often be found out in the shed where he works on a lot of the bigger items we produce. 

“They all contribute and without them, the Hobby Shed wouldn’t exist.” 

Pine Rivers Hobby Shed RSL Queensland

Nigel says that soon after the crew pooled their skillset, they began selling their wares at markets, Bunnings and online to bring in a revenue stream outside of the major Defence commemorations, such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. They also wasted no time in decking out the shed with materials and tools to increase their capability. 

“We’ve now got a CNC router (computer-controlled router machine) and a 3D printer, and we’ve started cutting glass bottles and making bedside lamps,” Nigel says. 

“So, it’s a work in progress. But last year alone we raised thousands of dollars and this year’s looking even better.” 

As for how volunteers and members can get involved, the Hobby Shed is open from 9am to noon during the week, with Thursdays set aside for members who’d like to work on their own projects, use the tools and gain some guidance to build their skills. 

The other days are dedicated to making goods for the Hobby Shed to sell, with all funds fuelling the Sub Branch that in turn supports veterans. 

“So, if any volunteers or members want to help us along the way and get out of the house, they are more than welcome to come and join us on any of those days. There’s a versatile amount of machinery to use and this year, our goal is to bring more people into the Hobby Shed,” Nigel says. 

And as for what Nigel’s learned in the four-plus years he’s volunteered for the Auxiliary, he says this: 

“I’ve learned perseverance and a bit of creativity. But most of all, what I’ve gotten out of this is just being part of a big family. Everybody here cares about everybody else and that’s the best part.” 

To get involved with the Hobby Shed, or to explore their catalogue of goods (you’ll find lovingly crafted children’s toys, flag display cases, decanters, clocks and more), drop Nigel a line at or call the Sub Branch on (07) 3285 8022. 


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