100 percent volunteer-led Bush Creek Ice Rink back for winter

by Lauren Pattemore - Jul 11, 2024

Back open for its second year, Bush Creek Ice Rink has been restored again to its former 20th century glory thanks to the hard mahi of a few volunteers.

Rink leader Rebecca Dobson says perseverance, dedication, hard work and below zero temperatures is ultimately how the team of ice-making rookies resurrected the "gravel pit" back into a place for kids to skate.

They've spent the past four years getting the recipe right, hitting success last year when it opened to the public for the first time since the 1980s.

"None of us had any experience when we first started, which was our downfall, but we had lots of enthusiasm."

When Bush Creek Ice Rink closed, Ms Dobson says the spot was "being vandalized and looking really untidy" and so the group of friends decided to resurrect it.

The community has embraced their efforts.

It's been open for less than a week this year but there's already been lots of kids out skating and a birthday party celebrated on the rink.

"I think the neat thing is, it's free, it's for the community, and everyone just takes care of it...we have had people come and say that they skated on the rink as a kid and they just love seeing it back," Ms Dobson says.

How do they make the ice? Ms Dobson doesn't want to divulge too many of their ice-making secrets but says it involves "a very slow, gentle release of water" and letting that layer freeze.

Then, doing this about another 20 times - hoping it doesn't all melt.

"There's something special about being down there on your own, in the cold late at night, knowing that the next day, you're going to hit
this fantastic result for people to use."

But it's definitely a "labour of love", she says. 

Just last Saturday, after a week of warmer-than-average temperatures delaying their ice-making efforts, they opened for one day, only for a balmy wind on Sunday to reduce their efforts back to "puddles", Ms Dobson says. 

"It's unpredictable at times, but that's the beauty and special and unique thing about it."

Their plans are to keep it going every year, and eventually pass it down to the next generation. 

It's there for all to use, and Ms Dobson welcomes anyone to come for a skate, but also advises people check their Facebook page Bush Creek Ice before coming down to make sure there's frozen ice to skate on.

She says when it's open, "there's normally someone down there with marshmallows" too.

Main image: Bush Creek Ice volunteers, from left, Mike Thurston, Glen Wearing, Rebecca Dobson and James van Leeuwen.

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