The Wooli Sports club, which stages the Australian National Goanna Pulling Championship Festival, wishes to acknowledge the tremendous support and assistance provided to it by Trevor Collins of Wooli. The Sports club also wishes to acknowledge the information provided by Greg Juknaitis (Birdman) of Wooli.
The beginnings were from a meeting called in Wooli to discuss building a sports ground (in Wooli). The Chairman elected to head the project was John Scutts.
In 1984 a Rugby League committee was formed to organise a team to play in the "Hotel's Football Competition". The first committee was elected (Owen Gamm, Bob Jarvis, Trevor Collins, Ian Scrivens, Keith Lawrence, John Scutts and Mark Cleary) to organise the Wooli team. The first football field was on land donated for the use by Ron and Alma Ronland and it was in what is now Little River Close. The Wooli Warriors won the Hotels Football Competition in 1984.
The current sports ground was constructed in 1984-85 with approval from the then Ulmarra Shire Council. The Council and the Wooli Bowling and Recreation club provided/donated the fill and equipment to assist the building of the ground. Additionally labour was provided by Trevor Collins Terry Collins and Keith Lawrence. The original canteen from the Little River close football field was used until the new brick one was constructed.
The fence posts around the ground where donated by Roy Bowling of Tucabia and the railing by Jones' Sawmill at Ulmarra.
How it all began.
A meeting was held after the sports ground was completed to hold a Goanna Pulling Championships on the Long weekend of June 8-9th June 1985. It was for the then NSW State Goanna titles. There was a variety of events over the 3 days (Football, Running, Brick-carrying, Tug-of-War, children's events and river events and Goanna Pulling). The weekend was successful but the committee agreed that the three days was far too much to continue with and it decided to run the Goanna Pulling only, over just the one day. The Heavyweight/Open Goanna Pulling Champion of 1985 was Paul Jones of Ulmarra. 1985 also was the year the VK Holden Commodore was built.
In early 1986 a committee of Brian Foote, Keith Lawrence and Trevor Collins went to the Grafton show to hold discussions with Terry Kennedy and Viv Watts about including a Wood Chop event at the Goanna Pulling. It was agreed and was a fantastic success.
Also in early 1986 Paul Jones, (The State 1985 winner) with Keith Lawrence and Trevor Collins, went to the Chillago show/Championships to compete for the Australian Title and returned victorious, bringing home the national Title. The national titles have been held in Wooli ever since that occasion.
Trevor Collins' last year as President was in 1987 and he wishes to thank his committee (Keith Lawrence, Ian Scrivens, Bob Jarvis, Alan Murray, Brian Foote and Brian Martin. He also wishes to thank the volunteers especially from Ulmarra and Tucabia (Paul Jones, Barry Fallon, Graham Kratz, Steve "Chook" Blanch). In 1988 Brian Foote was elected as president and took over the running of the event.
Rain has often been a feature of the June long weekend, and when it was raining, the Goanna Pulling was conducted on a Semi-Trailer in front of the Hotel. This continued until the Goanna Mound was built.
Some of the first sponsors and events were;- Goanna Pulling sponsored by Playboy Magazine, The Goanna Oil Co and Scrivens' Wooli Kiosk; The Wet T-Shirt Competition Sponsored by People Magazine and Wooli Hotel-Motel; Open Casting competition sponsored by Minnie Water Caravan park; The Wooli Gift (100 metre dash), Sponsored by "Bushland Caravan Park"; The slow bicycle race: Three legged race; Broom Throwing; Wheelbarrow race; the Little White Dove Beauty Quest; Flea market and stalls: (Contribution courtesy Trevor Collins);
Greg Juknaitis' (affectionately know as birdman) involvement began in late 1997 through Mabel Refshauge and Judith Ross from "Bushland Caravan Park" (now known as the Solitary Islands Marine Park Resort). "We were living in a tent on the river banků" and ".. a Caravan was donated to the committee and Mabel volunteered myself to tidy it up."
Because there was no registration on the Van it was moved, Under cover of darkness, to the rear of the caravan park and completely stripped and relined with material Greg was able to scrounge locally. Greg removed the back window to facilitate use as a serving bench.
Greg, Delma and Jude ( Del's friend) painted the van inside and out, and Greg used a photocopy from a t-shirt and enlarged it to over one metre on the side of the van and the girl's then painted it. The Caravan served as the Goanna Pulling office and also on occasions for the RFS for training modules.
The Goanna pulling pad was always entrusted to Greg and his volunteers to assemble. Such were the intricacies of the Pad that Greg was the only one entrusted to put it together to properly to protect contestants from injury.
Again, at the visit to Wooli in 2005 of "Sunrise" Channel 7's morning show, Greg was called upon to hastily put it together for some demonstration pulling.
Sadly Greg's health has now deteriorated and prevent's his involvement in the setting up and volunteering. (contribution by Greg Juknaitis).
Greg's assistance has been greatly appreciated over the years and his assistance will be greatly missed. Thank you Greg (The President).