Judging for the 2020 Sustainable Communities - Tidy Towns Awards occurred last week and as with many things in 2020, it was a little different from previous years.

Due to the restrictions in force due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the judges did not travel around the state to personally view all the nominations but utilised technology to conduct the interviews virtually.

The organisers intend to announce the finalists this Friday next week, and the winners are scheduled to be announced at a gala event held at Beechworth, the 2019 Tidy Town winner, on 5 September, subject to the Coronavirus restrictions allowing it.

Above - Dimboola hosted the 2019 Sustainable Communities - Tidy Towns Awards function in October last year.

Several Dimboola projects and individuals have been nominated in various categories, with the projects summarised below -

Heritage and Culture
War Memorial Commemorative Sign - Dimboola RSL

Dimboola Sub Branch RSL, with support of the Dimboola Memorial Secondary College (DMSC), developed an interpretive commemorative information display and garden at the entrance to the college, which is the home of Dimboola’s War Memorial.

After the memorial and the avenue had some major restoration work done over the period of a year, the final piece of the project was the interpretive sign.

Money was raised for this project including the DMSC, Hindmarsh Shire Council, Bendigo Bank and private contributors, and the work was carried out by Dimboola Sub Branch RSL member Charles Rees with assistance from the DMSC Hands On Learning class.

Fred Lord Memorial Garden - Dimboola Memorial Secondary College

In 2019 Dimboola Memorial Secondary College Hands on Learning class created a new memorial garden in the front yard of the Dimboola Police Station.

The garden was named the Fred Lord Memorial Garden after a former Officer in Charge at the station.

The opening of the garden was attended by the Hands on Learning students, staff leaders and senior College staff, local Police members Sergeant Darren Sadler and Leading Senior Constable Cal Myers, Inspector of the Horsham Police Service Area Di Thomson, and Fred Lord’s family and friends.

Recycle for sustainability - Dimboola Lions Club

The Dimboola Lions operate the Recycle Centre in Hindmarsh Street where they manage initiatives to reduce waste and litter in the community.

The major function of the centre is to bale cardboard that is bought in from around the Wimmera, which is sold on to be recycled. This scheme is supported by the Hindmarsh Shire Council.

Another major project is the monthly collection of newspapers on the first Saturday of the month, where volunteers collect bundled papers that are left on curbs around the town and store them at the centre for recycling.

The club’s interest in recycling goes further, with the recycling of car batteries, scrap metal, small batteries, plastic bottle tops, and even plastic bread tags.

While the movement of freight around the world has almost halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Dimboola Lions are still collecting recyclable materials, albeit with some changes to this service, and stockpiling them until the situation improves.

Travis Price Mural - Hindmarsh Shire Youth Council

Hindmarsh Shire Youth Council’s Strategic Plan prioritised cultural experiences, including public art and murals for local shire towns.

Through local acquaintances, former Dimboola resident, Ballarat based and internationally renowned artist, Travis Price was approached to be involved in the project.

Travis has worked with some of the world’s largest brands but always desired giving something back to the community he grew up in, offering to design and paint the external wall of the Dimboola Café for material costs.

Hindmarsh Shire Council and the Youth Council obtained appropriate approvals, youth project finance and support for the proposed mural, and as it depicted a local indigenous theme, Barengi Gadjin Land Council was consulted and had input into the final design that included historical and culturally important names and images of the area.

Community participation in the project was encouraged and students from the local schools and the public were invited to help paint the mural.

A well-attended community evening was held where Travis presented his life works and described his career working for global brands.

Controlling weeds and feral animals - Snape Reserve

Snape Reserve was purchased in June 2002 due to its significant population of 12 different vegetation types on the reserve.

A committee of volunteers was set up in February the following year to manage the 846-hectare property for Trust for Nature Victoria.

Vermin eradication is undertaken by ripping rabbit burrows and foxes are controlled through the work of Geoff Somers, a member of the Sporting Shooters Association of Victoria.

Areas of the reserve were farmed for over one hundred years and weeks have been an issue, with volunteers working every week on their eradication. Many weeds have been controlled, with the focus this year continuing to reduce heliotrope.

Revegetation continues where required with eighty Bursaria planted on the south bank of Racecourse Swamp and two hundred Yellow Gums planted in cleared areas at the west end of the reserve.

Heritage and Culture
Restoring fencing along the street - Dimboola Victorian Railway Institute

The Dimboola Victorian Railways Institute (VRI) is a remarkable story of saving the iconic Dimboola VRI hall after it was set for demolition.

A group of railway workers resurrected the Dimboola VRI and after negotiations from VRI head office, the hall was given to the branch. The members have since cleaned up the hall which is now used for institute functions and hired out to the community.

One of the great features is the restoration of the fence to the original chain wire with a feature gate that represents the historic value of the building.

The funds for this project was raised through golf days, fishing competitions, family days, and in-kind support from the local hardware store. The continued support of the members has seen railway memorabilia put on display through the hall, and future plans include painting the outside of the building and the installation of a new kitchen.

Pontoon for safety - Dimboola Rowing Club

The Dimboola Rowing Club has been on the banks of the Wimmera River since 1886 and has held the Dimboola Regatta since that time except in times of drought.

It was identified at the 2018 Regatta by Rowing Victoria that the ramp for launching boats had become dangerous and warned the Dimboola Rowing Club that they needed to do something with the ramp or risk losing their Regatta.

The Club gained a grant of $85.000 from the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority to
install a modern aluminium launching pontoon at a cost of $145,000, with the Hindmarsh Shire Council providing further funding of $25,000 and the final balance was met by the Dimboola Rowing Club.

The project also needed to get approval from the Barengi Gadjin Land Council, the traditional owners of the area, and DEWLP, the current owner, before the project could be started.

Volunteers from the rowing club set about removing the old boat ramps which took place over several weekends, before the new one was installed.

Rowing crews had to work around the construction site while training for upcoming regattas, but this inconvenience was worth it as the pontoon has proven not only a hit with the rowers but also the general community for swimming, boating, canoeing and other water activities.

Social Well-Being
Peter Taylor Memorial Barefoot Night Jump Event - Dimboola Boat and Water Ski Club

The Dimboola Boat and Water Ski Club held a night jump spectacular on the Wimmera River in November 2018 (above) as a memorial to a past member, the late Peter Taylor who passed away from cancer at the age of 56.

The night jump followed two days of club barefoot events that were open to the whole community.

There was plenty of food and refreshments for the one thousand people who attended to see attempts made at the world record for the longest jump. The event attracted some of the world’s best barefoot skiers to try the Wimmera River.

The event also included a charity auction held to raise money for the Wimmera Cancer Centre and the night was topped off with a fireworks display.

In 2020 the Dimboola Boat and Water Ski Club again was all set to hold even a bigger event, even attracting the world champion Andre De Villiers from South Africa, along with other big names in the sport from the USA and Europe.

The organisers were just weeks from the event planned for the March 29 when the coronavirus pandemic forced the event to be postponed.