Karratha RSL grounds damaged days out from Anzac Day

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch club manager and past president Julie Pope next to the oil spill in the RSL carpark. Intruders emptied an almost-full vat of cooking oil onto the carpark yesterday afternoon and the club is now under pressure to clean it up before Anzac Day commemorations on Thursday.
Camera IconKarratha and Districts RSL sub-branch club manager and past president Julie Pope next to the oil spill in the RSL carpark. Intruders emptied an almost-full vat of cooking oil onto the carpark yesterday afternoon and the club is now under pressure to clean it up before Anzac Day commemorations on Thursday. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

The club manager of the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch says she is “devastated” the building’s grounds have been damaged several days before hosting hundreds of people for Anzac Day commemorations.

Club volunteers have been left scrambling to conduct an extensive last-minute clean-up after a pair of juveniles jumped the fence and emptied an almost-full 1375kg vat of cooking oil into its carpark on Monday afternoon.

The intruders also overturned rubbish bins — leaving a binful of litter in a garden bed —and emptied butt buckets in the yard.

Rubbish from an emptied bin in the garden of the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch.
Camera IconRubbish from an emptied bin in the garden of the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Club manager and past president Julie Pope said with the oil —which has pooled across the carpark — posing a safety risk, the incident was a big hit to the club so close to Anzac Day.

“We’re two days away from our biggest event of the year, it is really quite devastating to think that someone would find this amusing,” she said.

“Whether they understand the significance of what they’re doing or not – I would imagine not —it just means that now we’re going to have to spend more time trying to get it cleaned up, and if we can’t get it cleaned up properly in time I’m not sure how that’s going to affect what we do in the afternoon because it’s in the area where the two-up is played.”

“I will have a lot of people out there, I’ve got to make sure they’re all safe, and with an oil spill like that, I just can’t leave it.”

Oil pooling across the main carpark of the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch, where two-up is played on Anzac Day.
Camera IconOil pooling across the main carpark of the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch, where two-up is played on Anzac Day. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

The RSL hosts Karratha’s major afternoon event each Anzac Day, opening to the public for a volunteer-run event that involves a game of two-up, a live band and fundraiser barbecue.

The event typically attracts 400-500 people.

The affected carpark, adjacent to the RSL building, is where the two-up game is held and is also the location of the outdoor bar.

Ms Pope said the club was now trying to find a waste management company that could clean up the oil professionally and if that failed, would have to call up a team of volunteers to clean the area as best they could.

The vat of cooking oil that was emptied by intruders to the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch property.
Camera IconThe vat of cooking oil that was emptied by intruders to the Karratha and Districts RSL sub-branch property. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

She said the club had never had damage to this extent before.

“We sometimes have kids jumping the fence, looking for cigarette butts, but they generally don’t do anything other than taking some butts and leave,” she said.

“This is just next level and it was so not needed.”

Cigarette butt buckets were taken apart by intruders looking for butts.
Camera IconCigarette butt buckets were taken apart by intruders looking for butts. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Karratha police acting officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Simon Harrison said police had identified two juvenile girls known to them from the club’s CCTV footage and expected to charge them with damage and trespass later today.

He said the incident was disappointing behaviour.

“It’s a disgrace in regards to young juveniles or any person committing any offences so close to us remembering our fallen servicemen,” he said.

“It’s going to be a blow to the RSL because of what they have been doing to get themselves ready in terms of clean-up and cost.”

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