Bankfoot’s unknown treasures keep volunteers guessing
  • Friday 08 May 2015
Volunteers at Bankfoot House

It’s like a treasure hunt, except you already have the treasure – and you’ve just got to figure how valuable it is.

That’s the joyous challenge for Bankfoot House volunteers Ron Gillinder and Keith Pendell each Wednesday, as they gather at the heritage-listed homestead along with many fellow travellers, to sort through the treasure-chest of artefacts discovered on the Bankfoot property, which was the first homestead to be built in the Glasshouse Mountains hinterland area.

“Nothing is brought in – this is a closed-house museum consisting solely of items found on this property,” Ron said.

“There’s a degree of satisfaction in restoring old properties like this – and we have come across some items we can’t identify; it’s fascinating to try and work out what they’re for.”

The pair has been part of the Bankfoot House restoration since its beginning in 2006.

Keith and his wife moved from the Northern Territory, and he has been involved with the project from scratch.

“I’d heard about Bankfoot and had an interest in history and heritage work, so I went to the first community meeting,” he said.

“I like meeting new people when coming to a new area. In the group we have similar but contrasting experiences and outlook.”

Ron was looking to join a community group.

“I was interested in preserving old heritage, and Australiana. I’m a keen photographer so I have been recording things for cataloguing.”

Volunteering at Bankfoot House has fulfilled both of their lives, and with National Volunteers Week running from May 11 to 17 this year, they both want to spread the volunteering gospel.

“I have always been keen on volunteering ­ I am a life member of APEX,” Keith said.

“Bankfoot House has nearly 90 members, and not all are volunteers – but we all love this place.”

Ron said he had learned a lot from other volunteers who are experts in restoration that he can use at home.

“You pick up more skills, particularly working in conservation,” he said.

“I’ve met experts in restoring metal, paper; people teach you. And these skills are portable – I can preserve things at home now, like old photos.”

He said Bankfoot always kept an eye out for new volunteers, as the existing ones aged.

“We decided we are not going to live forever so we have to look out for new volunteers,” he quipped.

“We need people interested in being tour guides, conservation, gardening.”

Sunshine Coast Council Community Programs portfolio councillor Jenny McKay said this year’s National Volunteers Week (May 11-17) theme is “Give Happy, Live Happy”, and acknowledged the many volunteers who gave back to the community in so many ways.

“Volunteers make an enormous difference to our community, and the nation,” Cr McKay said.

“Becoming a volunteer offers a tremendous opportunity to return something the community and perhaps learning something completely new and rewarding in your life.

“For so many people, giving is its own reward.

“And there are no age limits, with people young and old volunteering across many areas.”

Visit Council’s website www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au for more information on volunteering.