RSL moves from Dawson Street to The George

THERE were mixed emotions for staff and committee of the Ballarat RSL yesterday as the branch officially embarked on a new era.Removalists heralded the shift as they carted items from the old Lyons Street South premises – acquired by the RSL in 1919 – to the new home at The George Hotel.Ballarat RSL president Alex Tascas said it was hard to say goodbye after so many years.“We’d been looking forward to this – and we are very excited about it – but then, all of a sudden, when you see things going out we all got a bit sad,” she said.“We’re sad we’re leaving something that we have been in for such a long time.”Ms Tascas said the move was a positive one, with the RSL already “inundated” with new and returning members.“We firmly believe that the RSL is the membership and the people. (Lyons Street South) is where we have been, and we are starting off in a new premises, so we are still in tact.”Ms Tascas said the benefits of The George Hotel were numerous, with five offices, a meeting room, kitchen and bar, all part of the development. She said the RSL could now worry about its members, rather than the administration.“It will mean easy access for our members in the veteran community and general community. We will have a lot more that we will be able to offer,” she said.“Really the focus of the committee and the staff over many years has been just to survive (in Lyons Street South), to try and keep this place going, where as now we don’t have any responsibility in relation to gaming machines and stuff like that.”Ms Tascas said the RSL would be fully operational at The George Hotel by Christmas.