A Trailer by Committee

How many Men’s Shed members are required to build a trailer? Quite a few more than John Porch expected.


In February 2018, John began building a trailer at the Mudgee Men’s Shed to convey his vintage Farmall tractor to machinery exhibitions around rural NSW.  His vision was clear. He wanted a robust dual axle trailer, the plans for which he had mulled over for many months and consolidated with first hand inspections of building methods used by others in Mudgee and beyond. As an ex-farmer, John had the skills and know-how to achieve a professional result.


Well prepared, John set to work at the Men’s Shed on what he thought would be a simple solo construction effort. The Members however had a very different view. From day one his detailed plans were scrutinised, dissected and debated in detail from which flowed a plethora of suggested modifications and ‘improvements’. Robust discussion followed not just for the odd hour or two but for days; a process that became a trademark for every stage of the project.  This was John’s introduction to how things were done at the Shed where every project provides an opportunity for members to share their considerable knowledge and become engaged with the outcome. No idea is sacred. Every outcome is a collective effort.


And for John’s project, the involvement of fellow members was far more than a talkfest. Once an improbable agreement had been reached after a long and tortuous process, the members swung into action contributing to the welding, wiring, grinding, refinement of design aspects and painting.  Before long, John was heading a team of enthusiastic constructors every one of whom had an opinion not just about the trailer but on almost every event affecting the world about at that time. Spirited and often barbed humour laced every discussion particularly by the pseudo naysayers who cast doubt about the legality, the weight, the strength and indeed the very merit of the trailer. And if John dared to differ, he soon discovered yet another attribute of being a member; the need for a thick skin and a preparedness to give back as good as you got.


As a relatively new member, it is fair to say that John was a little overwhelmed by the way Shed members embraced both him and his project. However, he is the first to admit the quality of the finished trailer is far superior to that he first envisaged thanks to the members who became involved. He built a trailer but he also built a new network of friends in the process.  A worthy result.

Street Library


Graeme with some of the boxes he has built to be used by Mudgee Street Library.

The Street Library is an Australian movement that encourages literacy and community spirit by placing these, and similar, boxes in front yards and filling them with donated books, that people can borrow and replace. The Street Library motto is –

“Take a Book, Give a Book, Share a Book”

Graeme built these book boxes from surplus timbers, mostly old fence pailings that he cleaned up by putting them through our thicknesser, and they came up really well.


The boxes proved so popular that he has an order for up to 10 more, unfortunately the old fence timbers have all gone, so it will be interesting to see his new designs.

Well done Graeme.




NSW Governor David Hurley and his wife visited the shed

His Excellency General The Honorable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of NSW and his wife, Mrs Hurley visited the Shed on 14 March, as part of a regional visit.

The Governor – “call me David” and his  wife “Linda” were very very friendly and first of all enjoyed a cup of tea that he made for both. Later we all toured the shed. They were pleasantly surprised at the equipment we have accumulated and how well it is set up.

Both were amazed at the woodwork pieces that John Pickup had made, especially the wooden rabbit trap.

They were also impressed with the restoration work we had done on the Presbyterian Church pews, and on Neil,s mobile chook pen.

After the tour of our shed Linda conducted us in a rendition of “You are my

Sunshine”, which we had to repeat three times (with more gusto each time) to get it right.

At the end of their visit David presented us with a bottle of his own honey and Linda, a Government House memento.



A New Member’s Perspective


‘Why don’t you try the Mudgee Men’s Shed’ my wife suggested in response to my quest to find a meaningful and enjoyable way to allay post retirement blues. I was immediately dismissive, conjuring the image of a bunch of old farts getting together to while away the hours by telling endless war stories, jokes and tales of fiction dressed as fact and all under the guise of doing something useful?


With no better alternative, the least I could do was see if my imagined scenario matched reality.  Traipsing through the superbly equipped metal and woodworking workshops the following Monday, I was surprised to find not a soul at work. Moments later I came across the reason why. It was the morning tea break, an event that can last an hour and around the table twenty or so members were engaged in animated discussion about world and local events and issues affecting one another.  Humour and laughter punctuated the discussion and the enjoyment was plain to see.


By chance I had discovered the heart of the Shed; a supportive network of like-minded men who were determined to get the most out of life by sharing every day experiences and by helping one another with practical projects out in the workshops. Certainly, there was no shortage of rollicking tales and recollections of humorous life experiences, but digging a little deeper it quickly became apparent why the Shed has proved to be a life changing influence for many of the members.


As a newcomer I was surprised by the egalitarian nature of the membership. Members come from all walks of life including fitters and turners, tradesmen, self-employed businessmen, consultants, mechanics, lawyers, teachers, merchant seamen, farmers and more. Collectively they bring to the Shed an immense range of skills and life experiences that are shared by the members; a rich resource that is capable of creating or fixing almost anything and providing support to weather the many mental and physical ailments common among retirees.  And despite the broad spectrum of skills, experience and levels of education, members regard one another as equals. There is no hierarchy, just a common desire to share and enjoy what each has to offer.  While most members are of a mature age, what counts above all is a willingness to engage with others, regardless of age or background.


Members cite a number of reasons for participating in Shed activities. Many of those who have retired have in common a need to feel useful or have a purpose in life and to continue making a contribution to society whether it be through creative Shed activities or the reciprocal process of supporting the mental and physical wellbeing of fellow members. The routine of attending the Shed twice per week (Mondays and Wednesdays) restores a sense of order reminiscent of working days and allows members to plan ahead with a positive attitude of achievement and anticipation. And the camaraderie and mate ship resulting from regular attendance builds a fraternity of respect and understanding which is so apparent in the way personal and general issues are discussed with refreshing candour, often laced with self-deprecating humour.


Some members have joined to address issues of loneliness and isolation; a very common situation among farmers and one that can lead to depression, sadness and other health issues. Many have found willing listeners and understanding among the Shed fraternity that has helped to restore balance, hope and happiness.


And so it is time to eat some humble pie. The Mudgee Men’s Shed is not simply a bunch of old farts reminiscing glory days. It is a haven for those who seek friendship or a desire to build their sense of self-worth through sharing experiences with likeminded individuals. And yes there are a number of old farts present, myself among them.



David B. Joined Mudgee Men’s Shed November 2017.

Christmas Party 2017

At The Shed

Wow what a feed!
Last Thursday Tom, Neil and a few helpers set up the Dining room tables and chairs and decorations, for our annual Christmas Party.

Col set up Christmas carols to play quietly on the TV in the background.Saturday morning everyone hooked in and prepared the prawn cocktails.
Here is Dave topping up with avocado.

Tom carved the ham and turkeys

And Paul carved the chickens

Around mid-day people poured in, and the feasting began.
For those who missed out we started with a generous prawn cocktail, and then your choice of any or all of Ham, Turkey (expertly and tenderly cooked by Mary),

Plus there was Chicken, Salad, Jellied beetroot, Potato Salad and Potato Bake.

And we finished with Plum pud, Fruit Salad, Custard and Ice Cream.

Bon appetite

We talked and talked and the Christmas Carols were drowned out by the enthusiastic chatter.
John has a wicked gleam in his eye.

During the feast a revolving group of volunteers cleared the rubbish and washed up.

Don and Keith share a joke

While Santa in mufti, was ale (Hahn) and hearty.

Afterwards we all crawled off home looking for a quiet bed for a poppy nap.
Well done to organisers Neil and Tom. A truly splendid effort.
For those who attended, your feedback is requested. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how we might add to the celebrations for next year (difficult I know as this year was so good) but if we get more members partying in future years then space for a start, may be an issue.
We had around 30 men plus partners in attendance this year and there are close to 80 members, so we would like to see more members coming along to such functions.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas
Best wishes for 2018.

Andrew Gee presents grant for fine dust extraction

Andrew Gee of the Federal Member for Calare visited Mudgee Men’s Shed on Mondat 13th November 2017 to present a cheque for $2,770 to fund the provision of air filters in the woodwork workshop.

The funding is under the National Shed Development Programme.

Andrew Gee spent some time talking to members of the shed on this occasion.