Formed in 1911 the Club has had a colorful history. Undergoing continual improvements, the new building incorporates the theme of the town’s coal mining origins. The refurbishments include the extended Pit & Pony Bar, entertainment and Function Rooms, Bistro with Coffee Lounge adjoining and a large Children's Play Room. From the main entrance, walk through the mine tunnel into the magnificent poppet head foyer.
History of Wonthaggi Workmen's Club
In 1910 a gathering of 50 local men decided to form a club along the lines of the famous Workmen’s Clubs of Great Britain. A president was elected and a subscription of 5/- shillings was declared. Two old shops from Outtrim were transported to Wonthaggi by bullock team to become the first club building. An application for a Wine Licence was made in 1910 and granted in 1911. With the granting of the licence membership was increased to 10/- shillings and remained until 1955. The club in those day featured a billiard table and a reading room. In 1922 the club as it stood then was destroyed by a fire and in 1923 the new brick building was completed for the cost of 6000 pounds with 1000 pounds for furnishings.
On the 9th November 1928 the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club took out three shares in the MELBOURNE CO OPERATIVE BREWERY LIMITED at a cost of 10/- shillings each. The certificate issued can be viewed in the Pit & Pony Bar today. The club prospered until 1938 when disaster struck and the building was badly destroyed by fire yet again.
Over the decades the club weathered wars, the closure of the mine, and changes including the extension of trading hours in 1954, the permission for women into the Members areas in the 1980’s, eventually giving women voting rights in 1985 as well as a refurbishment to the club in 1985. By 1993 a licence was obtained to operate gaming machines and by 1995 a planning permit was approved to extend the venue which had its grand opening in 1996 featuring a new bistro, members bar and gaming room.
Historial Wall Mural
One of the features being a 20 meter mural painted by local artist Dennis Lerversha, illustrating Wonthaggi history in the early 1900’s.
Building the Poppet Head Tower 1999
By 1999 the club was booming and it was passed by committee to undertake a larger development and extend the venue to the west of the existing building. This time, other than the large bistro and kitchen and The Kirrak function room that was created, the most striking addition was the impressive poppet head foyer and replica mine shaft entrance that would be a feature to this day. Trucked in on huge semi-trailers were several sawn silver top gum trunks from the Yarram State Forest. These majestic timbers are featured throughout the venue but stand proud and tall in the reception area where they span a whopping 15 meters, having been set 2 meters into the ground. Heavy lifting equipment and fork lifts were used to position these massive timbers.
Care was also taken to capture, through photographs, an actual mine shaft and replicate this to form the incredible entrance that exists today. This notable time in the clubs history then produced the highly successful bistro and versatile function room that exists today, along with a Coffee Lounge adjoining and a large Children's Play Room.