Knox is home to many local sports and hobby-based clubs that provide opportunity for people to come together, socialise and connect over a shared interest. This is certainly the case for our local group of model aircraft flying enthusiasts, VARMS.
The Victorian Association of Radio Model Soaring (VARMS) was first formed in 1968 and is run entirely by volunteers. With over 180 members, the club caters for all types of model aircraft flying including flying gliders at height. Training and participation in competitions is also offered and encouraged.
VARMS was previously located at the Knox Regional Sports Park in Wantirna South but, to enable the development of the new State Basketball Centre, the facility was relocated. Following consultation with state government, Council and the VARMS group, and the adoption of the Knox Regional Sports Park Masterplan in 2018, the Rowville Recreation Reserve was identified as the new site for VARMS. The location was thought to be ideal, meeting the existing and ongoing functional requirements of the club, providing a suitable buffer from any existing neighbouring infrastructure and a dedicated open space to fly models uninterrupted.
Construction of the facility began in March 2022 and was completed earlier this year.
On Thursday 22 June, the new VARMS facility officially opened and includes:
- a new clubhouse
- a new runway for flying model aircraft
- storage shed
- car park area
- new left turn entry lane from Stud Road
The clubhouse is also an energy-efficient, sustainable, off-grid building that incorporates:
- power provided via a solar panel and storage system
- rainwater storage tanks collecting runoff from roof drainage
- rainwater treatment system which repurposes water for use onsite including for the kitchen and hand basin.
VARMS Vice President Lew Rodman spoke at the opening on behalf of the committee and club. He commented on the collaborative journey between the group and Council from Wantirna to the new site at Rowville. He also acknowledged President Ron Hickman’s effort and involvement in the project.
VARMS member Ken Madill joined the group 14 years ago and says Council’s involvement with this project and the building of this facility provides opportunity for him to not only indulge in his passion but also continue those social connections he treasures. "Saturday mornings were a great time to fly and catch up with friends. We were all very concerned when it became apparent that we were going to lose our field behind the basketball court. However, with the combined efforts of several of the club members plus strong support from Knox City Council we now have an excellent club and flying facilities, and I am back to enjoying Saturday mornings with my friends."
Here’s to many more years of VARMS.
For more information or to join the VARMS club, visit their website.