It’s Tuesday lunch time and we’re standing at Woorim Beach, on the ocean side of Bribie Island. The cafes and restaurants are bustling with visitors. It’s easy to see why they have made the short trip from the mainland – the views are spectacular, the sun is shining and there is a good chance to spot a dolphin or whale in the blue waters of Moreton Bay. We don’t have any such luck today – our wildlife sightings consist of kamikaze seabirds diving from above for some tasty seafood treats.
What the other people here don’t realise is that a few blocks back from the beach is another one of Bribie Island’s treasures.
As you drive into the Centre, you will spot a white church perched up on a small hill, shining brightly against the clear blue sky.
It’s easy to imagine you are on Mykonos or Santorini.
And rightly so…. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia have developed the site over the past 30 years to include the church, an educational college and the Bribie Island Retreat and Recreation Centre. It’s a little piece of Greece on this Aussie Island, and one with big dreams of making an impact on Australia’s youth.
The Centre aims to enhance the spiritual, physical, cultural and intellectual development of young people throughout Australia.
Each year, they provide accommodation for almost 5000 people from over 100 different school, youth, church, sporting and community groups.
The cabins are bright and modern, and they curve around the central hall – a large spacious building that has a stunning window opening up to the bushland. It’s clear that this is a special place that benefits the local community and visitors alike.
Matt Bender, the Site Coordinator, explains that the Community Giving Fund was used to purchase a pool table for the hall, something they wouldn't have been able to do without the support of the grant. And it has already proved a hit with regular visitors.
“The kids love having something new to enjoy – they couldn’t wait to try it out”.
Pool tables have a habit of bringing people together, even if they’ve never played the game before. This pool table provides visitors to the Bribie Island Retreat additional options for wet weather activities, alongside the much-loved table tennis table we spot next to it.
Apart from the social interaction, pool is a fantastic game for improving hand-eye coordination and developing problem solving skills. For older kids, they will learn the concepts of geometry and physics in a fun, interactive way. They won’t even realise that playing pool is educational!
It’s quite amazing that such a simple object can have such a huge impact.
We head outside with Matt to learn more about the history of the centre and explore the facilities – testing out the low ropes course as we go. There are 7 cabins, each with their own bathroom, that can accommodate up to 60 people. The fire pit looks inviting on this cool winter’s day. It has hosted many a sing-a-long by its glowing embers.
Memories of school retreats come flooding back. We are happy to think that thousands of other children will create their own memories here on Bribie Island, and perhaps even forever live the glory of a single perfect shot on the pool table.