End of one era marks the beginning of another

In late 2020, after a steep decline in membership, Castlemaine District Senior Citizen’s Centre Inc. decided to close its doors bringing to an end nearly 70 years as a social hub for older members of the Castlemaine community.
Members unanimously decided to donate the club’s remaining monies, more than $10,000, to Castlemaine Health’s new Maternity Service, a
lasting legacy that will impact the community in a positive way.
Castlemaine District Senior Citizen’s Centre Inc. secretary Marilyn Bulkeley says members wanted to make sure funds went to a worthy cause.
“It’s in our constitution. It has to be a cause that’s beneficial to the community,” says Marilyn.
“All our members agree that having a maternity unit is so important.”
New Castlemaine Health CEO Sue Race says support for the maternity service has been overwhelming.
“We are extremely grateful for this generous donation,” says Sue.
“The Castlemaine District Senior Citizen’s Centre Inc. has been very important to the people of Castlemaine and we are sorry to see it go.
“This money will be used to purchase new equipment for the maternity service and have a direct impact on women and families in our community well into the future. We would like to extend our thanks to members, both past and present, for their contribution,” Sue said.
The Castlemaine District Senior Citizen’s Centre Inc. began its life in the 1950s as the Castlemaine Elderly Citizens Club, meeting in two
rooms in the then Library Hall, now known as the Phee Broadway Theatre. The word ‘Elderly’ was removed from the club’s name in 2010 and replaced with ‘Senior’.
The space was soon too small for the growing membership and new clubrooms were built on land provided by council next to the Castlemaine Library, with funds raised by the club and the community, as well as a council grant. It would be their home for nearly 60 years.
From bingo, card and board game days, carpet bowls and movie afternoons, to bus trips both local and as far afield as Echuca, Ballarat, Mount Gambier and even Kangaroo Island, the club hosted a variety of regular and special events. Melbourne Cup Day and Australia Day were always big on the calendar and Christmas wind-ups at a local hotel or the clubrooms always included lavish afternoon tea and a gala concert.
They met regularly with other local clubs for combined concerts and get-togethers and were always involved in organising Senior Citizens Week activities. Regular concerts, where local and visiting talent would perform, were held right up until the club closed.
Secretary Marilyn began her association with the club age 11 playing piano at one such concert. Now in her 70s that’s a very long association with the club indeed!
Marilyn and office bearers, president Shirley Sturgess and treasurer and former local mayor Heather Harcus, worked extremely hard to recruit new members and arrest the natural decline in membership due to age, frailty and people passing away, but it wasn’t to be.
“The club will be sadly missed,” she says. “But many wonderful memories remain.”

The headquarters in Mechanics Lane Castlemaine was home to Castlemaine District Senior Citizen’s Centre Inc. for nearly 60 years.
An early gathering of the Senior Citizens Group.
Senior Citizens members enjoy a gathering at their new home in Mechanics Lane.
The group enjoys a more formal sit down gathering.
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