Mayoral Column 24 February 2014

Published on 24 February 2014

Tourism grants bring a boost

Three high-profile tourist attractions in Loddon Shire have won grants as part of the latest round of funding from Bendigo Regional Tourism.

Bendigo Regional Tourism covers the City of Greater Bendigo, Mount Alexander, Central Goldfields and Loddon Shires, with funding support from Tourism Victoria.

Loddon Shire Tourism manager and BRT board member Robyn Vella said the new grants aimed to support the good work community organisations and individuals did to attract visitors to the region.

“More than 60 events expressed interest in the grants and the board has chosen 17 recipients,” Robyn said.

“Preference in this round was given to those with a capacity to draw in tourists from not only the local region, but Melbourne, interstate and even international areas.”

In Loddon, the successful applicants were Wedderburn’s Naturally New Age Festival ($1,000), Inglewood Alive ($2,000) and Boort Sculpture by the Lake ($5,000).

The inaugural Naturally New Age Festival last October, organised by Wedderburn Community House, attracted more than 300 people and 50 stall-holders.

Inglewood Alive brought up to 1,800 visitors to the town in December, for attractions as diverse as rock and roll dancing, classic cars and motorbikes, wood chopping, magic shows, bootscooting and horse-and-wagon rides. 

Boort Sculpture by the Lake is a new, two-day event planned to showcase sculptures around the lake and showgrounds next October.

Boort Tourism Group president Kathryn Lanyon said the idea had grown out of the sculpture competition introduced at last year’s Boort Show.

“Last year, we had four categories and 23 entries on display and we were so impressed by the quality of what we saw,” she said.

“Next time, we will still work in with the Show, but hope to have sculptures on a number of sites over the weekend.

“Some generous prize money has already been organised and the Tourism Group has just formed a sub-committee to work on the project.

“I’d really like to thank our committee member Rod Poxon, who did so much work in putting the case together for our successful application.”

Boort Sculpture by the Lake is inspired by the hugely popular Spirit of the Land Festival at Lockhart, near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

The Spirit of the Land showcases internationally recognised farm sculptures, created from recycled metal, farm materials and elements of the land. Last year, it attracted nearly 6,000 visitors.

New crop explained

Farmers in Loddon Shire have the opportunity to hear first-hand about a new crop which could potentially deliver gross margins of between $2,000 and $4,000 per hectare.
A meeting planned for Boort this Friday (28 Feb.) will outline proposals by licensed Tasmanian poppy processor TPI Enterprises Ltd to expand its operations to Victoria.

TPI wants to see a substantial area sown to poppies in the north of the state, with the aim of ensuring security of supply of poppy straw to its extraction and purification facility near Cressy in Tasmania.

Loddon Shire’s Rural Co-ordination and Development Manager, Brian Hinneberg, said grower interest had been strong since news of the meeting was announced earlier this month.

“I already have a list of about 50 local farmers keen to participate,” he said.

“The discussion in Boort will be led by senior representatives from TPI Enterprises who will explain the process and answer questions.”

The meeting starts with morning tea at 9am and a light lunch will conclude the day.

To find out more or to register, please phone Brian on 5494 1200 or email bhinneberg@loddon.vic.gov.au

Be web-wise

The series of Digital Strategy 101 workshops arranged by Council for local business operators is entering its final phase, with two sessions to go.

The first of these is on 4 March at Wedderburn Hub, focusing on “Selling through your website”, while the final workshop on 18 March 2014 at Pyramid Hill Neighbourhood House is looking at “Developing an Email Marketing Plan”.

The workshops, which run from 9.30am to 12.30pm, are led by Bendigo-based internet and IT training organisation Design Experts.

To book your place, please phone Design Experts on 5442 6888 or, for further information, contact the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 5494 1257.

Funding for the initiative has been provided through Agrifood Skills Australia.

Calendar call

Community and sporting groups organising public events in the next financial year can get some free help in promotion by sending in their information to Council.

The Tourism Department is finalising material for the next edition of Loddon Shire’s popular Calendar of Events brochure, listing events around the municipality planned between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015.

The deadline for material is Friday 7 March. For more information, or to submit your entry, please phone Pauline Brown on 5494 1257 or email pbrown@loddon.vic.gov.au

Women’s night out

Loddon Bendigo Rural Women’s Network is seeking ideas on what types of activities, support and events women in Loddon Shire would like to see.

To that end, the network has organised a series of three evenings of conversation led by Wendy Holland, of Bendigo-based consultancy Community Vibe.

The evenings, which include a free meal, are planned for Serpentine Bowling Club on 5 March, Marong Family Hotel on 12 March and Axedale Tavern on 19 March, all at 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

The deadlines for registrations are this Friday (28 Feb.) for Serpentine, 7 March for Marong and 14 March for Axedale.

For more details, or to add your name to the list, please phone Christine Coombes on 5494 1251 or email ccoombes@loddon.vic.gov.au