Lions roar into action with a multifunctional trailer to help the Merimbula region reclaim paradise after the bushfire emergency

The volunteer engineered and built multipurpose vehicles that will give comfort and support to a host of community groups’ functions for people of all ages, as well as providing an emergency resource for evacuations, bushfire and natural disasters that might render people homeless.

The Lions Club of Pambula-Merimbula is living up to the Lions ethos of ‘Where’s there a need, there’s a Lion’ by building a very special support vehicle for the Sapphire Coast as the area moves to reclaim its title of the Paradise of the NSW South Coast after suffering bushfires then Covid in quick succession.

Mobilising volunteer skills, labour and business donations, the Club has engineered a unique multifunction community trailer that can provide relocatable relief to residents facing any future emergencies, and can also help local groups enjoy a host of community events tuned to its relaxed and beautiful natural lifestyle.

The ruggedly engineered and comprehensively equipped trailer contains extensive mobile catering facilities – including pull-out 1000mm barbecues, and 500mm grill and bain-marie combination – as well as hot and fresh water resources, 240V plug-in points for internal and external equipment, stand-alone solar and generator energy sources, 6m x 3m shelter gazebo, refrigeration-freezer equipment and gas, portable defibrillator, first aid and fire response equipment.

Its 840W solar panels and batteries connect to a 12V system, partnered with a 12/240V inverter, which provides lighting, hot water, fridge, and mobile phone charging without having to run the generator.

The sky glowed an eerie orange, red, and black over Merimbula and the Sapphire Coast of southern NSW during the bushfire emergency in 2020 that saw people and native creatures flee to wherever safety could be found. Now the Lions Club of Merimbula-Pambula is helping rebuild community resilience with a multifunction community resource trailer supported by volunteer expertise and business donations

“During the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, our volunteers catered at the Bega Evacuation Centre, providing hundreds of meals, then later operating in response to other recovery projects,” said an instigator of the project, Club President Elect Jon Webb, who sought grants, designed and undertook the fit-out work while working closely with Club members including Gordon Matthews who oversaw chassis fabrication and contributed his electrical skills.

“The lessons from these bushfires – and the awareness that there will be future emergencies – demonstrated the need for this community trailer project”, which was recognised and backed by our Club’s membership and attracted major sponsors such as the Bendigo Bank Enterprise Foundation and the Australian Lions Foundation.

Everything that opens and shuts – the beautifully engineered multifunction community event trailer compactly houses a host of services, including the AusJ RV hot water heater to bring comfort, cleanliness to users wherever they are located.

The compact Aus J Duoetto MK2 water heater, right, supplies the multipurpose vehicle with hot water from either 240V sources or 12V where required.

Sponsors drawn from far and wide included Narooma Solar, Gas Struts Australia, Connections Plus Australia, and the national and international Aus J Hot Water Solutions company, which equips RV and mobile catering vehicle builders globally with clean, green electric 12V/240V water heaters. Aus J Managing Director Jay King said that, like other sponsors, he could immediately see the value of such a self-help project and had no hesitation in donating the latest Duoetto hot water solution that was ideally suited to the task. Automatic sensors on the Duoetto allow switching to 12V when mains power is not available, enabling the Duoetto to deliver ample hot water even when isolated. “Clubs like the Lions give back to the community, which I applaud. People such as Jon Webb, Gordon Matthews, and their team are can-do people, who bring their previous practical and professional skills to the table, as well as their enthusiasm to promote grassroots change in the way the Lions Clubs operate - one life, one relationship, and one community at a time,” said Jay.

“Lions give back to the community,” says sponsor AusJ, who was proud to have his company’s name, above, associated with the cause, along with the host of supporters shown above

Jon Webb says the Lions Club of Pambula-Merimbula is grateful “for all this support. Until this multifunction trailer was built, we relied on Club members using personal trailers, lifting all the heavy equipment, (barbecues, generators, fridges etc) and having less-than-ideal equipment which was just not good for an ageing volunteer base - no matter how willing.”

“Also, in a vehicle that will be used both for emergency situations and community events, we have to ensure compliance with changing food safety rules and build in the ability to cater for larger numbers. Good food handling and readily available hot water are among the important technologies incorporated into the project.”

The trailer will be loaned out to other service clubs that undertake community support activities.

“We will also use it for fundraising and community celebration activities such our free Lions community carols event and golf fundraising competitions. The investment in creating this multipurpose trailer will continue to pay back the community for years ahead,” says Jon.

And another major community project - MIRA

Even as the multifunction trailer goes into service for the first time, the Lions Club of Pambula-Merimbula is deeply involved in bringing to fruition another major community project, in the shape of a Multi-generational Inclusive Recreation Area (MIRA) at Tura Beach.

This approx. $2m project aims to transform the gravel car park and grassed space at the base of Tura Beach Drive into a professionally designed, inclusive all-ability space that’s fully accessible to people of all capabilities and all ages to enjoy.

The Club has appointed architects Fiona Robbé and her husband Rolfe Chrystal to create MIRA as a safe, free and inspiring outdoor community space where everyone can meet, connect and enjoy. It will be just as much for our seniors as it is for our young families, says Jon.

“MIRA is intended to enable members of the community and visitors to come together in a safe space, creating the opportunity to build connections with people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and cultures.

“When we have the opportunity to design and revitalise a public community space, it must be done with a mindset that ensures it is for our whole community - it must be truly inclusive.”

“MIRA will provide an area that promotes movement and being in open spaces which is good for our health. It will be a community owned space where you come for a number of activities, rather than solely a playground or exercise area.”

The project has been made possible thanks to consulting surveyors Caddy, Searl and Jarman. It has attracted grants from Bendigo Community Bank of Pambula, Bega and Bombala and from the ANZ Seeds of Renewal program through the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR). As with the multifunction trailer, the Lions Club of Pambula-Merimbula has raised funds to allow the concept design process to start.

To find out more about these projects, other club activities and membership inquiries please visit or email

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