Rockleigh Progress Association hopes to create community hub at old school house

Residents are banding together to improve a local meeting place – but a big job lies ahead.

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Barb Pym, Dot Roots, Mark Crocker, Ron Martin, Dixie Sachse and Dave Dennison are among the members of the young Rockleigh Progress Association. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Progress is on the way at Rockleigh.

Locals hope to create a community hub of sorts around its 101-year-old school house, with up-to-date public toilets and resurfaced tennis courts.

In the past year they have formed and incorporated a Rockleigh Progress Association, which now has 24 paid-up members.

Next they hope to win support from the Murray Bridge and Mid Murray councils, whose boundary runs along the fence behind the school house, to have some details plans drawn up.

Then comes the hard part: raising the tens of thousands of dollars they will need for the new facilities.

But association member Dixie Sachse said they were up for the challenge.

“This would be a fantastic space for gatherings,” she said.

“We really depend on our community around here.

“It’s nice for everyone to know each other so we can look after each other.”

It was also the only secular meeting place nearby, she said, an important point for younger residents new to the area who might not feel comfortable about going to the Uniting Church for a catch-up.

Two representatives of the progress association, Barb Pym and Gayl Gogel, gave a presentation to Murray Bridge’s councillors at their meeting last week.

“We’re seeking a commitment from both the Rural City of Murray Bridge and Mid Murray Council to collaboratively support the upgrade of the Rockleigh old school site and tennis courts,” Ms Gagel said.

“The first steps in this staged process are to have a design and costing completed, with the first priority being new toilets.”

Deputy Mayor Wayne Thorley praised their efforts, energy and enthusiasm.

However, the council has not yet responded with a formal offer of funding or assistance.

School house’s journey back to relevance has been long

The Rockleigh school has been closed since 1942.

A long-drop toilet block was built next to it in 1971, but the site fell into disrepair in the decades after that.

Its revival began in 2014, when the school house was repaired by members of Mount Pleasant Men’s Shed.

It is now regularly visited by walkers, cyclists and horse riders following the Kidman Trail, which runs through the Adelaide Hills from Willunga to Kapunda; and by SA Police, which uses the area for dirt road driver training.

Serious discussions about doing something with the tennis courts across the road began last year.