Tongala Celebration of the World’s First Men’s Shed, 16 Nov 2015, 1pm

‘Bringing it all Back Home’, Book Launch, 16 November, 2015,

Tongala Men’s Shed, Tongala, Victoria, Australia


The ‘Tongala Men’s Shed’, originally opened in July 1998 as ‘The Dick McGowan Men’s Shed’, is identified in Professor Barry Golding’s recently published Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men book as the oldest Men’s Shed opened by that name in a community setting anywhere in the world.

Below is a press cutting from December 1997 confirming receipt of a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a Men’s Shed in Tongala.


With 1,500 Sheds open globally, 30 per cent of which are outside of Australia, the Men’s Shed in Tongala, opened as The Dick McGowan Men’s Shed in Dick’s honour was indeed a ‘Great Beginning’, as the late Dick McGowan wrote in 1998.

It is fitting that the celebratory launch of the first definitive book about the now international Movement is taking place in the first ever Men’s Shed. Dr Sharman Stone, Member for Murray who launched in the Shed over 17 years ago has generously agreed to return to launch the book. In many senses, this event is a celebration.

This public opening, to which everyone is welcome, celebrates the role and impact of all previous and current Victorian Men’s Sheds, and welcomes several early and very influential people involved in Men’s Sheds and the Movement in Victoria.

This gathering and celebration of the Shed has been organised by the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA) in collaboration with the Tongala Aged Care Centre, with the support of the broader Tongala community and the Victorian shedder community.

Our guest of honour is Ruth McGowan, a long time and highly respected shedder in the Tongala Men’s Shed and widow of the late and great Dick McGowan.

Paul Sladdin, current Board member of the Australian Men’s Shed Association, former President of the Victorian Men’s Shed Association from Mansfield has been invited to act as MC.

Many Men’s Sheds across Victoria  have indicated their intention of participating in this historic event. Any Sheds in nearby southern New South Wales are also most welcome.

Some copies of the ‘Men’s Shed Movement’ book will be available for sale and signing from Barry Golding at the launch for $40. Additional copies can also be ordered (including postage for $50) via Barry, email with a preferred postal address. Payment is by invoice, via BSB bank transfer or cheque.


Public Book Launch and Unveiling of a Commemorative Plaque


  • 1.00pm Welcome Cuppa
    • 1.30pm Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome (MC Paul Sladdin, Board Member, AMSA)
    • 1.35pm Welcome to Tongala Aged Care Centre (Jean Courtney)
    • 1.40pm Introduction to The Men’s Shed MovementBook and its author (Paul Sladdin)
    • 1.50 pm The importance of ‘The Dick McGowan Men’s Shed’ and Dick McGowan’s role (Professor Barry Golding).
    • 2.20pm Address and book launch (Dr Sharman Stone. MHR, Member for Murray).
    • 2.40pm Unveiling of The Dick McGowan Men’s Shed, commemorative plaque (Ruth McGowan).
    • 2.50pm ‘The important role of VMSA and AMSA in shaping the national Men’s Shed Movement’ (Paul Sladdin)
    • 3.00pm Afternoon Tea.
    • 3.00pm CLOSE

Sincere Thanks to:

  • Tongala Aged Care Centre (Jean Courtney & Sara Tee).
  • Dr Sharman Stone, MHR, Member for Murray.
  • Victorian Men’s Shed Association (Ric Blackburn CEO & Phil Keily, President)
  • Australian Men’s Shed Association (David Helmers, CEO & Board Member, Paul Sladdin).
  • Tongala Men’s Shed.
  • All Men’s Sheds participating in the Tongala event.
  • Stephen Dunn (CEO, Adult Learning Australia).
  • Ruth McGowan, Tongala.
  • Federation University Australia, Ballarat (Barry Golding).
  • Chris Bettle (Canberra).

Author: barrygoanna

Honorary Professor, Federation University Australia: researcher in men's learning through community contexts, author of 'Men learning through life' 2014) book (NIACE, UK), 'The Men's Shed Movement: The Company of Men' (2015) & 'Shoulder to Shoulder: Broadening the Men's Shed Movement' (2021) books, both published Common Ground Publishing, US.

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