The famed Moreton Bay fig at the Dunoon sports ground was ripped apart by the tornado on Friday afternoon.
The famed Moreton Bay fig at the Dunoon sports ground was ripped apart by the tornado on Friday afternoon.

Storm breaks club's heart

By ADAM HICKS sport@northernstar.com.au

IN THE Australian sporting tradition of wearing one's heart on one's sleeve, Dunoon cricket, soccer and little athletics teams sport their fig tree emblem with pride.

It symbolises the community spirit of a town that gathered beneath their famous Moreton Bay fig to build a sports club on Balzer Park 14 years ago.

Yesterday, Dunoon and District Sports Club president Brian Tarlinton lamented on the damage Friday's tornado caused to club's sporting facilities but said the heartache was compounded by the destruction of their beloved ficus.

"The fig tree was the emblem for all the sports teams. It's commemorative as our first point of existence," he said.

"That's where we started all our initial fund-%raising to build the club.

"We had a temporary liquor licence and held barbecues and garage sales under that tree. I's a 100-year-old tree just torn apart."

The sports club that houses Dunoon's soccer, cricket and little athletics equipment, canteen and changing rooms at Balzer Park was destroyed while the fencing around the club's tennis courts was flattened by the freak twister.

Tarlinton said it was too early to tell the exact repair bill but estimated damages to be over $100,000 with the matter currently in the hands of insurance companies.

"It's pretty much totalled. Al the contents the fridges, cookers, little athletics equipment, stock, soccer equipment, cricket equipment," he said.

"We'll have to borrow some gear for cricket but the oval is not playable for Lismore District Cricket or village cricket.

"Play will come to a halt indefinitely "This will have a high financial burden on individual clubs to restock equipment and playing strips." The little athletics club, which competes on%

Friday nights, will be approaching a local school for temporary use of their grounds, while the Dunoon and Tullera village cricket teams, which both used Balzer Park as a home ground, will be forced to use other facilities.

"The village cricket will have to use other grounds in Lismore, which puts the draw into chaos because it was one of the main grounds," Tarlinton said.

It is estimated up 300 athletes and sportspeople who rely on the club will face disruptions while alternative arrangements are made.

The impact of the tornado is compounded by its timing, as the club was preparing for its annual general meeting last night.

"It's a fairly sombre mood here ... a few members lost their houses, quite a few others have lost their roofs," he said.

Officials are in discussions with a tree surgeon to determine if the remaining section of the fig tree can survive.

Tarlinton said if the tree had to be removed then a new one would be planted in its place.

"There will be a fig tree at Balzer Park," he said. The fig tree is also an emblem on the club's staff uniforms.



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