Mayoral Column 16 December 2013

Published on 16 December 2013

Loddon through the lens

Loddon Shire is the star of a new travel DVD which has the potential to provide a sizeable boost to the region’s tourism sector.

National travel magazine Caravan and Motorhome was in the area last week filming the 45-minute DVD, talking to local businesses and residents and enjoying the sights.

This was the first time the publication had ever visited the Shire and the first time anything on this scale in terms of tourism promotion had been achieved.

Magazine editor Fred Wright and cameraman/producer John Haberfield were guided through the week by an itinerary drawn up by Council’s Tourism Department and assisted by local volunteers.

They began their work in Boort, visiting the Piccoli sculpture garden, Salute Oliva, Simply Green Tomatoes and Aussie Wool Quilts, before a chat with Loddon Ambassador Paul Haw near the Boort Lakes Caravan Park.

In Wedderburn, they were shown the eucalyptus stewpot, Coach House Museum, old primary school and Jacka Park, prior to filming a gold detecting demonstration in the bush.

Thursday saw the pair in Inglewood and Bridgewater, with a side trip to Kooyoora State Park, while the next day was based at Pyramid Hill and Terrick Terrick National Park.

The visitors’ final day on Saturday was spent at Tarnagulla, Newbridge and the Laanecoorie Weir.

Council’s Tourism manager, Robyn Vella, said the visit was sparked by an advertisement placed in The Wanderer magazine, the official monthly publication of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia targeting its 62,000-plus members.

“Fred saw that ad and thought Loddon would be another great area to explore,” Robyn said.

“He’d been to Castlemaine, Ballarat and Bendigo, but never here.

“Loddon will appear in a future issue of Caravan and Motorhome and the DVD will come with it.

“You can’t put a value on publicity of this kind – the majority of our visitors are 50-plus, the Baby Boomers, who are always looking for new places to explore.

“When people do come, they’re impressed– what we have to offer here is as good as any regional centre.”

Fred Wright said he and John had been highly impressed by what they’d seen.

“Everyone we’ve met has been very committed to improving the tourism potential of Loddon Shire,” he said.

“The best thing about this area has been the friendliness of people – and that’s what travellers are really looking for.”

Caravan and Motorhome is one of 20 motoring, craft and outdoor adventure titles produced by the Express Media Group in Sydney.

Farmers’ market plan

A farmers’ market in Wedderburn could become a reality following a visit to the town last week by Member for Swan Hill Peter Walsh.
Mr Walsh announced funding of $7,500 for a feasibility study into the idea, to be undertaken by the Wedderburn Community House in partnership with Council and Wedderburn Tourism.

Along with our partners, Council believes Wedderburn is the ideal place to host regular markets, as there is already considerable local interest in the concept and several suitable sites available.

The area receives more than 40,000 food and wine visitors every year and an event such as this would benefit not only them, but also our hard-working producers.

The government’s contribution towards the $10,000 project comes through its Farmers’ Markets Support Program.

The first farmers’ market started in Victoria in 1998 in the Yarra Valley with the primary aim of enabling farmers to sell their produce direct to the consumer.

It was the beginning of a significant grass roots movement in Victoria, which now boasts over 70 farmers markets each month.

We thank Mr Walsh for his support and look forward to getting this work under way.

Gala gets a sporting chance

Council has opted for a sports theme as it looks towards its gala event for 2014.

Meeting in Serpentine this month, Councillors voted to hold the prestigious function at the Pyramid Hill Memorial Hall on Wednesday 20 August, with a range of award categories to honour high-achieving clubs and sportsmen and women in Loddon Shire.

The current pattern is for the coveted Loddon Powercor Excellence Awards to be staged every second year, alternating with a non-awards night featuring a guest speaker and entertainment.

This year’s event at Eddington in May attracted 148 guests, who enjoyed hearing from Neil Druce, owner of the highly popular Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory, and musician Mike Brady.

In 2012, 125 people gathered at the Serpentine Hall for a gala evening featuring rural women’s leadership pioneer Alana Johnson.

Holiday bin times

Council contractors will continue with their garbage and recycling collections over the Christmas/New Year period, but times will be different.

Garbage collections usually scheduled from 25-27 December and 1-3 January will occur on the following day – for example, collections normally done on Wednesdays will shift to Thursdays.

Recycling collections scheduled for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day will move to the following Saturday, but Boxing Day remains unchanged.

Landfills and transfer stations will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Australia Day.

Celebrating the season

Christmas celebrations continue in Loddon Shire this week, with special events planned around the municipality.

Next Wednesday (18 Dec.), from 11am to 3pm, a get-together at the Wedderburn Community Centre will feature songs from the Goldfields Choir, a free sausage sizzle, gifts for the kids and Christmas foods.

On Thursday, Bridgewater’s carols evening will be held at the recreation reserve, starting with a free barbecue tea at 7pm. If it’s wet, the event will move to the town hall.

Friday sees the staging of the Bears Lagoon Christmas Tree at the local tennis courts from 7.30pm, with pre-arranged gifts for children and supper to follow.

Next Sunday (22 Dec.), Boort holds its annual Carols by the Lake from 8pm, while, at the other end of the Shire, Inglewood Lions Club hosts its Christmas Festival from 5pm.