Mayoral Column 21 July 2014

Published on 21 July 2014

Putting a spring in our step

With central Victoria in the grip of a wet and cold winter, it’s a cheering thought to call to mind that spring is just six weeks away.

Here in Loddon, the new season brings with it an annual celebration of the outdoors which showcases the best of the region’s natural attractions and draws visitors from across the state.

The program for this year’s Naturally Loddon Spring Festival has just been released, with a varied offering of activities for all ages.

The official launch will take place on Sunday 7 September at John and Sonia Piccoli’s Star Spanner Sculpture Gardens at Barraport.

ABC Regional Radio presenter Jonathan Ridnell will be special guest, with gates opening at 11am and a barbecue and other refreshments on offer. Entry is $5, with all proceeds going to the Murray to Moyne Boort district cycling team.

From there, the program provides a wide range of events, including photographic exhibitions, the annual Kooyoora Wildflower Show, field trips, family days, a fishing competition, Boort’s Luncheon by the Lake and two popular local festivals. 

Council Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said this year’s activities offered plenty of interest, with about half the events free to attend.

“Naturally Loddon is not only an opportunity for local residents to get out and enjoy themselves, but also a great chance for day visitors and others to explore what the region has to offer,” Robyn said.

“The brochure has a QR code which will direct people straight to the events section on Council’s website.

“We also encourage organisers to continue to submit event details on to the Shire’s website so that visitors and locals can know more about what’s planned.”

To obtain a 2014/2015 Major Events Calendar brochure, please check the usual tourist information outlets around the Shire, phone the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 5494 1257 or email your request to loddonvisitorinformation@loddon.vic.gov.au

Funding news welcome

A visit to Boort last Thursday by Member for Swan Hill Peter Walsh yielded more good news for Loddon Shire, with the news of further funding support for streetscape works in four of our towns, flood mitigation works and local learning opportunities.
The state government is providing $120,000 from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to commission master plans to improve the streetscapes of Bridgewater, Boort, Inglewood and Pyramid Hill.
Council will contribute the remaining $40,000 required to see the project get under way.
The planning will aim to reinvigorate each town’s commercial main street and central shopping precinct and improve traffic flow.
Mr Walsh said that, since it was established in 2011, the Regional Growth Fund had delivered more than $400 million, generating well over $1.6 billion of total investment across almost 1500 projects.
“In Loddon Shire, the Fund has provided $3.4 million to 16 projects, leveraging $11.8 million in total investment,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Mr Walsh announced funding of $121,000 to deliver the first stage of a flood management plan for Boort, Serpentine and Pyramid Hill.

The state government is contributing $38,378, the Commonwealth $21,122 through the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme and Loddon Shire $60,500.

The money will fund an investigation and proposed designs for flood mitigation options to reduce the impact of floods on the three towns, which might include enhancing existing levees or building new infrastructure.

The final announcement confirmed $1,500 grants to both the Boort Resource and Information Centre and Wedderburn Community House – as Learn Local organisations – to help with their programs and services.
Council thanks Mr Walsh and the state and federal governments for their ongoing support and looks forward to seeing these varied initiatives put into place.

Sign up now for preschool

Enrolments for four-year-old places next year in any of the five preschools in the Loddon Kindergarten Cluster are now open.

Expressions of interest are also open for three-year-old groups.

The closing date for applications is now Friday 29 August – earlier that the previous cut-off of end-September.

Application forms are available from the preschools, Maternal and Child Health centres, Council’s Wedderburn and Serpentine offices and through the Council website, www.loddon.vic.gov.au

For more information – or to discuss any issues related to the deadline date – please phone Council’s Early Years Co-ordinator, Alycia O’Sullivan, on 5437 7999.

Unlock the Asian market

Primary producers in Loddon have been invited to explore their marketing opportunities in Asia at a forum planned for Bendigo next week.
The Central Victorian Agribusiness Forum is hosting “The Food Boom Summit” at The Foundry Hotel Complex in High St, with a dinner on Thursday 31 July and working sessions the following day.
The opening address will be delivered by Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, while other speakers will focus on business opportunities in Asia, the current climate for agribusiness and insights from producers.
According to Dr Napthine, the number of consumers in Asia with discretionary spending will increase six-fold by 2030 to around 3.5 billion.
Council’s Director Economy and Community, Bryan McEwan, will be attending.
“I’d encourage any interested producer in Loddon Shire to consider coming along,” Mr McEwan said.
“We already have successful businesses in the region exporting to Asia and the opportunities for future growth are obviously limitless.”
For more details, phone Martin Szakal on 0421 324 509 or go to http://cvaf.webs.com/the-food-boom-summit-2014 

New app food for thought

Bendigo Regional Tourism will launch its new Bendigo Regional Food and Wine Fossicking app at a function at Sutton Grange Winery next Monday, 28 July, at 11am.

Attendees will hear about the growth in food and wine tourism, meet some of the region’s “foodie heroes” and share in morning tea.

Council Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said the launch would rightly celebrate the achievements of regional businesses.

“Congratulations, especially, to Bridgewater Bakery, Simply Tomatoes, Salute Oliva, Inglewood Meat on Brookes and Water Wheel Winery, who have all advertised on the app,” Robyn said.

“This latest promotional tool will showcase our region, with its magnificent Australian-made products.”

Bendigo Regional Tourism is a partnership forged in September 2012 consisting of the Loddon, Mount Alexander and Central Goldfields Shires, plus the City of Greater Bendigo.

An RSVP is required by this Wednesday (23 July) to Lauren Mitchell on 4408 6510 or l.mitchell@bendigo.vic.gov.au