For 17 years, the Bowral Men's Shed has been a place where local blokes can work on projects, make friends, and support each other through hard times.
Around the country, the Australian Men's Shed Association is celebrating the positive contributions that Bowral's Shed and hundreds of others make to men in the community.
"It's a place where men can go and meet other men without any obligation, discuss their issues and their problems, and get a bit of friendship," secretary Peter Bawden said.
Concerned about male suicides and lack of opportunities for older males for companionship, Uniting Church, Uniting Care North Sydney, Aging and Disability, and Wham established the Bowral Men's Shed in June 2003, Mr Bawden said.
"Men's Sheds are not just fixing furniture and building toys, they are helping men and building communities," AMSA states. Or, as researcher Professor Barry Golding observed: "Men don't talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder."
Today, the Shed has more than 50 members, working in wood, metal, and computing / electronics workshops.
"There's an opportunity for people to do their own projects; we do work for the community; and there are few housekeeping-type jobs to keep the shed itself operational," Mr Bawden said. "We do a lot of repairs and small fabrication jobs for people in the community and community organisations."
They have made woodwork and metal items for the Uniting Church in Bowral, the Uniting Church and the Anglican Church in Mittagong; made outdoor furniture for Bowral Public School; and built a mobile jail for a police function, and stocks for the Scottish Arms Hotel. They also repair mowers and electrical goods, and run computer education workshops.
The shed is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am to 3pm, at 28 Bendooley St, Bowral. Mr Bawden encourages anyone interested in joining to drop in.
"Particularly retired men, but any men who find themselves in a community without any connection or companionship can come along. It's a good way to get to know people of a similar age and quite a wide range of interests. Most people can find somebody there they can relate to, and it provides a sense of companionship and belonging."
Membership is $10 a year, or $6 a week, including tea and coffee.