I’m Penny Stevens. And with my husband, Rob Ingram, we have realised a long held dream of returning Cobbora Hall to its original roots and back to being the social hub of our small rural community.
Let me tell you the story of Cobbora Hall. A hall that’s steeped in community spirit. Has been through many transformations. And is finally at rest doing what it loves best. Once again creating memories from the weddings, parties, celebrations and events it hosts.
The relocation and restoration of Cobbora Hall has been a labour of love for both of us. Four years ago we found it falling into disrepair, unused and unloved on a paddock where it had been moved in the 1950s.
Rob is best known as Country Style magazine’s Country Squire and is a freelance wine, food and travel writer. I’m a publicist and event organiser.
Rob and I left behind a Sydney business in 2006 to move to our rural property at Cobbora near Dunedoo in the NSW Central West.
Many of Rob’s monthly Country Style columns have chronicled the story of the restoration of our historic 1880s courthouse building. And with that finally complete, we were looking for another project to take on.
The old Cobbora community hall seemed the answer. Originally sited next to the Courthouse when it was built in 1915, the hall’s move to a sports ground two kilometres away had been undertaken when rising insurance costs made it more economically feasible to locate the hall with other Cobbora community facilities. It was moved on skids towed by tractors and its life as the hub of community activities resumed in 1957.
Gradually the Cobbora community grew smaller and nearby Dunedoo became the social hub for the district. The hall’s decline was sad but inevitable. Its fate was sealed and demolition was looming.
Our enquiries about the lovely old building gave us hope that it might be possible to move it back to our property and restore it for a new life. Much blood, sweat and tears later, the hall stands proudly back in the village of Cobbora on our land, contributing its charm and integrity to the tranquil rural landscape it overlooks. It has finally come home.
Our efforts have been rewarded by the delight it has brought to everyone in the district with happy memories of events held in the building over past years, as well as people who experience its charms for the first time. All agree it’s a treasure and a tribute to the loving and meticulous care that Rob and I have lavished on it.