Buloke Living

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Buloke Living Stronger together, a proud community

Acknowledgements It is an absolute delight and privilege to be part of a great idea that has come to fruition. Additional funding coming into the Southern Mallee Primary Care Partnership allowed a partnership of agencies to work with the local Buloke Shire communities and explore the notion of ‘why it is great to live in the Buloke Shire’. The stories and pictures highlight and promote the many reasons why Buloke Shire rural communities are strong, resilient, innovative, inclusive and a great place to live. The Buloke Living Project aimed to build local community capacity through photography and storytelling. This project has allowed community members to engage with one another and local agencies and to develop long lasting skills in photography, storytelling, with new community connections developed and strengthened. We envisage the photos and stories will be used by local communities and agencies well into the future. I would personally like to thank all the Buloke Shire community members who committed their valuable time and expertise, and contributed to this amazing and inspirational project. Your pictures and stories are truly remarkable and inspiring. Acknowledgement to the members of the Southern Mallee Primary Care Partnership; Buloke Shire Council, East Wimmera Health Service, Focus on Community, Wimmera Uniting Care, Department of Health and Human Services and many others, thank you for your contribution to the project by way of financial support, project coordination and guidance. This has been a great example of when we combine our collective effort we can achieve great outcomes with our community. To all community members across the Buloke Shire, I do hope you enjoy the photos and stories captured in this book. They reflect many of the amazing stories that surround us, and we believe you will find your own story similarly reflected within these pages. This project may even spark an interest in ‘what else’ we can share and do together in the future to demonstrate why it is great to live in the Buloke Shire. Bronwyn Hogan Executive Officer, Southern Mallee Primary Care Partnership

Buloke Living Stronger together, a proud community

Watchem Nullawil Wycheproof Donald Charlton Birchip Culgoa Nandaly Sea Lake Berriwillock

Thank you Without the support of our own local Buloke Shire community, this project could not have happened. Without the patience, voluntary time, commitment and passion, it wouldn’t be possible. The stories and photographs in this book have been produced by a team of hard working locals on a steep learning curve! We are grateful that you could help, advise, travel, research, photograph and/or interview, in a capacity large or small, Thanks also to Project Coordinator, Deanna Neville of Focus On Community, for facilitating our amazing team:

Catherine Adriaans v Judy Blackburn Susie Burke v Jamie Buteux v Renaye Gretgrix Colleen Hogan v Jono Ingram Brian Lea v Averill Loft v Mubarak Meerashahib Jenny Pollard v Martin Schoonderwoerd Maggie Stacey v Suzi Thompson v Wendy Watts

Buloke Living Stronger together, a proud community

Foreword While the word resilience has become an overused cliché, it reflects a dynamic capacity to adapt to a new ‘normal’ based on a fundamental love of place and community. Buloke communities and individuals continue to thrive and adapt to new ‘normals’ thrust upon them by the changing demographic, ecological and economic climate confronting rural Victoria. The Buloke Living photo-narrative project brings together the stories that reflect the connectedness of Buloke people and their desire to be part of the diverse and often challenging story that is Buloke. It has been said that “Resilient people possess three characteristics — a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise*”. Underlying these characteristics, this project reveals a keen observation and deep appreciation for what makes our communities special. Follow the family, community and working day lives of ordinary rural people who have found connections that provide them with real strength and joy as they contribute to the lively and ever changing story that is Buloke. I wish to thank all the contributors for sharing their stories and the photographers for bringing us closer to our fellow community members and our unique Buloke landscape. I feel honoured to have been included in their number. David Pollard, Mayor, Buloke Shire January 2017


*How Resilience Works by Diane Coutu (Harvard Business Review, May 2002)



I just love the country life Jim Petrie, Stonemason

I was a stonemasonry teacher for over 25 years but I was forced to take early retirement. At the time my younger brother was in a bit of strife so in 2004 my wife and I decided to come from Melbourne to Watchem to take on the pub he ran. It all went sour because in the end my brother suicided. We took on the pub for about five years, and during that time we got into helping the community. We sponsored a lot of local activities through the pub, like the sports clubs and the fire brigade. Then when people heard I was a stonemason they started to ask me to do a few small jobs. The first one was to sink a plaque into a piece of rock for a local bloke. But it was the Progress Association who put up the idea to design and build the memorial to commemorate the ANZAC 100th anniversary. I built the five letters – A N Z A C – each letter just over a metre tall. It gives us a backdrop to the Soldier Memorial here. Then I did something for the Vietnam Vets. It was a bronze plaque we sunk into a rock, and on the rock itself I carved a map of Vietnam. I like doing it. It’s my trade background, doing masonry and stone work. Now most of my time is looking after my wife full time but I’ve got things happening up at the shed. I’ve got an idea to recognise all the different conflicts Australia has been involved in. I like history. I talk a bit with Hec Dickie because he was the last remaining serviceman in the town, and he planted the Lone Pine in the Soldier Memorial Precinct. It’s to the right when you go through the gate. Doing the memorials, there’s been nothing but good feedback. I love doing it. And I just love the country life, the fresh air and I think probably everybody here’s a family. It’s very friendly. Something people probably don’t know is that while I was teaching I was a representative in the Skills Olympics. It’s a trade competition held every two years where they run regional, national and international competitions. I was lucky enough to design the assessment for stone masonry in 1988. During that time we helped train the contestants in accuracy, but really the main thing is psychological, because if you make a mistake in the competition you need to just get on with it.


Photo by Jamie Buteux

A purpose, a connection

Graeme Milne, Watchem Panthers Cricket Club with Ian Mallet, (Left) It’s the first time in 22 years that the town’s had a cricket team. We’d been playing with Birchip but the numbers got up a bit and some of the local guys were missing out and the boys said, let’s have a go on our own. So they dug out the old cricket pitch on the footy oval! It was a stinking hot day. A local bloke, Barry Johnston, he’s a bit of a cricket tragic who’s played all over the country and he said, well, I’ll go President, and he pushed the guys and the guys pushed him. Then Will Davison was made Captain. We had a cricket club. It’s a bit of a Dad’s Army; the youngest is 16 and the oldest is 65. But it’s got people out of their houses, off the couch and out playing cricket. We had a number of older residents who found it to be a nice day out. They’re not related to the players, but would just come up and provide scones and cups of tea. It’s got them into something different. And there’s a few people new to town who couldn’t find other ways to integrate or find a connection, they’ve come on board too. It’s brought people together. It’s given the younger ones a purpose, a connection with the older people. The banter that goes on between them is pretty funny! You would never have picked that mob of people coming together. There was no sporting activity in the town at all so we were really chuffed to be able to get it together. The younger ones have taken on their leadership roles and handled things really well; developed a range of skills as have some of the older players who haven’t had any previous connections with kids. I’m just a dad of four of the players; I should have played myself! Plus my wife helps with food and other things, so it’s all in, as with many things country people do. But my involvement has been to push it and encourage it. We’ve got a five year plan at this stage so we’ll see how things go. The support’s been fantastic; they’ve had a 13-14 person deep cheer club of support. When they first dug out the old pitch there were three of them digging away, slaving away for a couple of hours. They had the dirt flying in every direction. They’d got half it off and the next thing they’re playing cricket on it!




Photo by Jamie Buteux


Photo by Jamie Buteux


Balance and diversity Peter Vogel, OAM, Resident

For many years Watchem has had the ability to survive the hard times. There’s always been a sense of selfsufficiency, of helping out. For example, there’s the bunkers to support the community, that came about several years ago. When the local silos didn’t have sufficient capacity the grain was held in bunkers, and the farming community then emptied the grain bunkers by donating their trucks and time. The money raised was used for community projects. The hall, football club, swimming pool and lake committees were all able to apply for project funding from the monies raised. Another time when the community helped out was when the shop burnt down, and the community rounded up the money and started another shop. Then when the shop needed a house adjoining it we got together a tender as a community co-op and got the house. The only bit of contention was what colour we would paint it! I reckon it’s really interesting with the NBN and internet access in general for small communities, that people in the country can have a very different way of living. We are seeing families working from home more and more, and that includes start-up businesses as well as working for large global companies. And then there is gender diversity. As far as advancing skills, especially for wives on farms, there isn’t any reason why people can’t live and thrive in a little place like Watchem. There’s no reason why this can’t happen. Because of IT, it’s opened up so many opportunities for us. I think it’s possible that our small communities could grow. 10 years ago I would have said Watchem was dead. People were leaving. Now, instead of only retired couples there are younger people and families coming in. Gender balance and diversity can be achieved, with increasing opportunities allowing for women, such as job sharing, working part-time and with child-care made available.


You’ll get population growth but I think the most important thing is the chance of getting the population diversifying. There’ll be new teachers, increased health services, and the work and lifestyle that comes with it. I reckon it can make very small towns like ours grow again.



Photos by Jamie Buteux & Brian Lea



Photo by Wendy Watts


Heart and soul Heath Pollington, Nullawil Football Club President With Isabella, Logan, Sandy and Tory

Our footy clubs are the heart and soul of the community. If you lose sporting clubs from small country towns it tears them apart. During the week, we all work in our jobs and on our farms and it can be quite isolated at times. But on Saturdays, footy brings us together. The whole family can come and play sport; football and netball. But it’s more than that really. We all do our bit, then get together for tea and socialise on Saturday night. It is a challenge at times. It’s getting more difficult to field teams, to keep players, especially the juniors. The club has spoken about mergers in the past, way before my time as President. I can see that for many clubs they saw this as an option, but I guess we just weren’t ready for it. I think that as a community we still wanted to fight to keep our club. There is a lot of passion; people have strong feelings about the club. The bottom line was that people were still willing to work hard to make sure it kept going. We really felt for the Woomelang Club when they made the decision to fold. You don’t like to hear it. It’s not good for the town and it’s not good for country football. The senior players went in all directions, to different clubs. The Nullawil Football club approached the young families. It wasn’t an offer to merge, but we just wanted to give their young players an avenue to stay together. We have always had difficulty fielding underage teams, and so there was a place for them all. They had the opportunity to come to a club similar to the one they had come from. Those families have really been great for our club. It has meant an injection of about 20 kids across our football and netball teams, and it has really helped our junior teams become competitive. They are great people too and they have joined in. They’ve brought fresh blood into our club and community. It means extra volunteers to help with scoring, umpiring and canteen duty and it all makes a difference. I think they have really enjoyed coming over here and we’ve loved having them.


They were our rivals when we were both part of the Southern Mallee Football League, and now our kids are playing for the same team. We have a joke about that. Now they are part of the Golden Rivers Football League, which does involve a lot of travelling for them, but they seem happy to do it. We just want our clubs to keep going. It’s important to us. We want our towns to be great places to live in. I grew up playing football here, my father played here and my son is keen to start playing soon too.




Wendy Watts, Community Photographer

It sort of evolved, but I probably started taking photos and writing stories for the local paper about 10 years ago when town identity Tex Lowry died. He used to do the news; he’d write and type it all up and fax it in, and so I thought I’d take it up, keep it going. With technology now it’s just so easy to take the photos, collate information and shoot everything through to The Sea Lake and Wycheproof Times Ensign. In the beginning I just had a little snappy camera and then when I took to photographing the sport I thought I’d better upgrade to a better digital SLR camera. With the growth of online social media, uploading photographs can create a connection with people. Connecting through Facebook groups has really become integral, particularly when people have left the area, because it helps them to really connect back with the community. There has gradually been a changing demographic in our sporting clubs, the players aren’t just the locals any more. Through the online groups there’s information about social events, rosters and meetings, but when the photos go up the comments you get are great, people really stay in touch. It is an opportunity to celebrate the good things which happen in our club, significant events and milestones. Photos are a great way of creating memories, reflecting on shared experiences and appreciating people in the community. People say of country kids that they know how to talk to people, to relate to people and that’s what our country kids are like. The young and old seem to interact effortlessly at town events and share a lot in their lives. The young ones can certainly go away having learned what a community is and they go out there into the world really well equipped, knowing how to relate to older people and younger people. As kids it’s common that they’d play two games of footy to field teams, then go on to be water boy or boundary umpire. That way they learn that it’s not just about them, that they have to give back to their community as well. It’s clear they’re learning so much more than just sport. Our world is so technology-driven, and yet our kids have come out of these little country schools, a little community like Nullawil, knowing about teamwork, perseverance and patience, and how to show respect to your team, the officials and your opposition.


Photo by Colleen Hogan

They’re a great group of people to do life with.




Photos by Wendy Watts & Suzi Thompson

Here we have an identity Mubarak Meera Sahib, Registered Nurse and Mrs Illa Grylls

It was my best friend Vijin and his wife Neethu from Charlton who told me about the goodness of this place and gave me full assistance with finance and boarding for my initial settlement. So many people have helped me. They will come by with eggs and drop things off. They always keep asking, have you got everything? People like Ceri from the kitchen who always spoil me with her home made mayonnaise and salads. Bob at the Op Shop who offered me with any assistance and said, I would be an extra pair of hands if you need anything. Gill the Physical Activity Worker, who took me to gym when I asked her if there is a fitness option. My colleagues Valsa and Juby always bring some extra meal for me when we do shift together. Valsa makes my favourite Indian dishes so I don’t get homesick!!! And it was Larissa the Associate Nurse Unit Manager who told me, we wants blokes and family like you to be a part of community. She took me to watch Saturday footy, hockey and introduced me to the people in community. When I go out, people wave and ask, how are you? Even some of the residents might say, oh, you’ve had a hair cut! Only ‘family’ notice things like that. When Jan, the Nurse Unit Manager knew my wife Neethu was coming, she helped me with the roster and asked about my little one, our daughter Wafa Maryam. They are concerned about your personal life. Robyn, the Campus Manager let me stay in hospital house for the past six months which is unusual as it is a temporary accommodation meant for a month or less. She is searching for house for me and send me email after hours. You don’t see much bosses like her. I want to be a part of Wycheproof. I want to mingle with people and feel part of the group. For my child, growing up here she won’t feel like her parents are different. She will have her childhood memories here and a place to come back to. In the city we are anonymous; just ‘those Indians living there’. Here we have an identity. Here we feel like an integral part of the community. I know that people are very welcoming here. In this Buloke area we don’t feel like we are away from home. I am just waiting for my wife and my daughter to come in and add more colours …




Photo by Jenny Pollard



Plan B

Marney Durie, Free range chicken farmer and Pop, Ken Durie When we were told we were closing the turkey sheds it was a little bit daunting having the farm side of things gone. We couldn't have done anything about the downfall of the turkey company we were supplying, but then it's like, well, this farm has been ours for generations, so you do feel the loss when the gates are locked indefinitely. On the one hand I think there was relief because at that time, Dad was busy with a new truck business and good harvest, Pop was getting on, and I was trying to do life and Uni and such. I used to come home and help out; turkeys are wretched creatures to work with! But on the other hand, I'm fourth generation, and the family’s been in the poultry business for 30 years so it was hard to consider the end of it. Then, with the turkeys gone, and because we had the empty sheds, a chicken company out of King Lake approached us. I finished Uni, and here I am, fully immersed in egg farming! My Pop is an old farmer very much set in his ways, but I do love seeing him on the farm still. We not all that long ago lost Nanna, and Pop has stopped working out here, so you do feel the absence. But quite often he'll pop out just to make sure everything is in order. Quite often if something's broken that I've been swearing at for an hour he's got some ancient remedy of a solution. And they work! One day I found two beautiful old bottles down the paddock that I hoped to put flowers in and they went missing from the work shed only to turn up a couple of days later, smashed up and put in a fox hole that Pop had 'fixed'. He's got so many stories that make you just wonder, how?! He's not much for compliments and he's quite old fashioned, so if he says, you're as good as any man, it's high praise. As a little girl I loved the little yellow fluffy chicks. One day I was out checking the chicks with Dad, and he said, what do you want to be when you grow up, and he was devastated when I said a ballet dancer! At the end of last year no one was harvesting anything. We were lucky when the crops failed that we had a Plan B. But a lot of local farmers weren’t so lucky.


Photo by Renaye Gretgrix

It would have to be camaraderie Rob Coleman and John Driscoll Wycheproof Men’s Shed

It’s the companionship and banter that really draws you here. And the opportunity to work with other men. It gives you a chance to catch up. The banter’s a pretty important part for us – it puts a smile on your face, then you feel better afterwards. Nearly everybody here is in on the footy tipping, and that makes for some fun and friendly rivalry! The Men’s Shed is a good way to get to know everybody, especially if you’re new. It’s a good way to integrate into town and the community and learn who’s who around the place. A lot of the guys come down for the companionship, a bit of a chat and a cup of tea. It gets them out of the house. If we hear that somebody needs a bit of hand ‘round town, we’ll go and help them. If someone needs some man power, we’ll go and give them a lift. When Wiggy the butcher and his wife came to town they didn’t have any beds, so we gave them some bedroom furniture. Following the 2011 flood the Men’s Shed helped the Wycheproof Service Clubs with some of the flood cleanup in Charlton. People naturally pull together to help each other and it turns into a major team effort. For us two, it’s good to do a bit of hands on work here and help anyone else. Sometimes you’ll be working on something and someone will come past, see what you’re doing and say, try this or that. Max Miller here, he taught us most of the woodworking skills. He knows lots of the little tricks of the trade! We mostly concentrate on the timber work and are currently doing up an old dolls house for the Kindergarten. Some of the kiddies came in to see how we were going with it, and they were rapt! If any of our members are a bit ill we’re kept up to date with their progress and we do get well cards for anyone in hospital that needs a bit of a boost. It just lets them know everyone’s thinking of them. Having a Men’s Shed would have to help with mental health issues; there’s probably some members here who have been helped. It just gets you out and you can enjoy the company. If there’s one word you’d use to describe the Men’s Shed it would have to be camaraderie!




Photo by Jenny Pollard


Photo by Suzi Thompson


Giving kids access

Jan Elder, Music Teacher

L-R Hayley Matheson, Josie Carrigg, Kate Brown, James Ison, Cameron Mens, Xavier McKersie, Joe Coles, Kate Thompson, Amelia Ison, Ella Sheahan, Mary Anne Pollard, Charli Stapleton, Andrew Mens, Jack Arnel, Eloise Gretgrix, Steph Mill, Hannah Mill, Jan Elder, Thomas Pollard

The financial hardship is almost an ongoing thing around here, where things can be pretty tough. So something that I think is quite unique at the school is that none of the kids have to pay for their music lessons. They can also hire instruments throughout the year very cheaply so they’ve always got them at home for practice, without having to actually buy them. That way, being part of the music program doesn’t depend on whether the parents can afford it, and it’s given kids access to music lessons that absolutely would not have happened otherwise. Every child learns music. They don’t just play at home to mum; we get together and play with our cluster schools and that way all the kids in the school get to perform. Not just the top kids. It’s created the culture that it’s okay to have a go. Each year we do Battle of the Bands, and we usually have every kid from year 3 to year 8 play in those bands. Then we’d get parents hopping up on the stage and having a go and we’d have a teacher band also demonstrating getting up and having a go. There’s a girl who has come right through our music program, where the whole family is really supporting her. Now they take her down to Melbourne each week for a jazz course. She did VCE Year 11 music last year and she’s so committed and putting so much into it, whilst she’s doing her final VCE year. Maybe she’ll become a successful jazz performer. A current Year 11 boy came from a feeder school from Nullawill, and he’s off a farm. He’s actually taught himself guitar and he comes in and can access the equipment. Part of my job as a teacher is to provide the facilities here and now he gets together with some other students and they go out and do community performances of the music they’ve developed.


The enabler is kids having the access and the resources. The students have become independent learners who will have music as a fun, relaxing and challenging recreational activity for the rest of their lives.

Don’t give up!

Anne Durie, Nikki Coatsworth and Amanda Gretgrix Bakery on Broadway Three years ago, Wycheproof was like any other town in the Wimmera-Mallee, with businesses closing and local people thinking about what the future held. The butcher shop had closed and so had the hardware store and there was no bakery. Some locals got talking and said, we really need a bakery in our town. So then we, four couples, decided to give it a go. The drought had affected everyone. We felt a bakery would lift the town’s spirits and boost its morale. There were a couple of buildings in the main street on the market. Once we got a key and we all had a look at the old Shire Hall, our decision was easy, and we got access in December 2013. We knew we had to work as a team. We all contributed what we could, with most of it happening at weekends, as we all had other jobs. We took our time and we did a Business Plan. We also looked at who our audience was, our market, and the importance of all abilities access. Despite all the hurdles along the way, we saw the future and we were determined to keep on going. None of us had any previous experience in the food industry, so there were times when we thought, oh my God, what have we done? Yet we were determined to carry on. We saw the potential for the town. We believe in our town. We know that we’ve got a good town. We want to retain our structures so the town will still be viable in the future, for our kids. We saw the butchers and the hardware re-open and we were pleased as part of our plan is to source as much as we can locally. This includes doing a lot of things ourselves, like landscaping and building furniture. We also sell local produce, some of which is made by members of our extended family. The lesson we’ve learned along the way that we’d like to share with others is, don’t give up! It might be tough facing all the hurdles along the way, but if you can focus on the future and keep working together, you’ll get there. Now that our bakery is open we know all our efforts were worth it. The town is full of cars, which is always good. It makes more people stop here. Bakery on Broadway opened in 2016 at Easter. One of our first visitors from Melbourne walked inside and said, Wow, this, in Wycheproof?! Partners: Amanda and Darren Gretgrix, Anne and Marcus Durie, Christine McKersie and Christopher Duffy, Nikki and Adrian Coatsworth




Photo by Renaye Gretgrix

Photos by Renaye Gretgrix, Suzi Thompson & Judy Blackburn




A way to connect Rev Jono Ingram, Baptist Pastor

I’ve been part of the Red Gate Community Garden in Donald for 9 or 10 months. I started going because I see the value in community connections. For communities and families to flourish, you have to have safe and meaningful places for people to feel valued and accepted. Connection and belonging are the building blocks for resilience and the Red Gate is a place for social connection, support and a place to contribute. There’s definitely been a growing sense of community and increasing contribution there. The Red Gate has gone from being a small group of gardeners, to a place of connection for the broader community by opening the gate and hosting events such as the Local Produce Buy and Swap. People often come in and sit down for a coffee or tea, which makes it a great place for people who might otherwise be lonely. In an odd way, probably the community thing I’ve been engaged in the longest has been running the Donald Weather Station Facebook page. Weather has always been a bit of a hobby, but the Donald Weather Station has become a place of sharing, belonging and connecting with people online. Farming can be quite isolating for people, so the Donald Weather Station is another way for people to connect. And the weather is always a much talked about topic, so giving the community an online platform to do that seemed to make sense. People send photos in every day, and it can be a way for them to express where they’re at, especially farmers. It might be a picture of a dry paddock accompanied by a frustrating comment about the lack of rainfall, or a picture of a sunset and a comment acknowledging our region’s beauty. Donald's river, the Richardson River, started flowing in mid 2016 after 4 or 5 years laying stagnant. It was amazing to see the online community respond with such celebration to a few photos and videos showing the water flowing down our river and over the weir. It really demonstrated the way a rural community’s spirit rises and falls with the changes in the weather.

Photo by Susie Burke





Photo by Susie Burke


It’s okay to talk Maree Cullen, Campaigner

Our son Jake died in 2006. It came as a shock to everyone. Perhaps if he had spoken to his mates or sought help, our lives would be different. People are better now at talking, listening and reading the signs. When Nugget died we were referred to The Compassionate Friends who organised A Walk To Remember. After a few years had passed, we decided as a family to attend one of these walks. Jake was such an outgoing kid, and loved by so many that we thought this could work here too. So we decided to run a Walk to Remember in Donald. We had over 120 participants. I explained to those there that I tried to greet people, regardless of whether I knew them or not, with a smile or a hello, because you just don’t know what they are going through. They might be grieving the loss of someone. And that’s why we did it; to show that if you need someone, they’re there. We've had lots of requests to run it again as there were quite a few who couldn't be there. Everyone was given a balloon and they could write someone’s name or a message on it. I've spoken to a few women that participated, who are on their own and they said it was the first time that they had been able to share their loss. Since then they’ve caught up with each other over a cuppa. It was just really nice that you can share your story with someone on the day. Back in 2006, the year Jake died we lost seven people in a tragic accident and another young person had died the month before. We also had many struggling with the drought at this time so the Western Bulldogs football players came up from Melbourne and ran an event in the park for the community. It was an opportunity to illustrate that if you were struggling with the drought and the loss, the support from the community was there to ask for help, to encourage people to talk to others. People now know they have avenues available to access help and to talk. They’re talking about depression and suicide. I can’t believe how much of an impact Jake’s death has had and the amount of people we know now who seek help. His death has helped so many people; perhaps he was only on loan to us for such a reason. People's mindsets have changed, it’s out there. It's okay to talk!


Got us through

Jen and Dennis Baker, Farmers

Last year was an absolute disaster for our family. It started with our son not wanting to farm with us any more, then not wanting to be a part of our family. Then I got diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring extensive treatment. Our daughter was right in the middle of Year 12 and then Dennis’ mother, who lived on our farm, became very sick and then died. The people around us were just phenomenal. I mean, I’ve helped out too; I’ve made casseroles for people, but when it happens to you, you realize how it keeps you ticking along. I know Dennis got very tired driving to appointments, and it meant our daughter got fed and off to school. Then the Jeffcott CFA decided to plan a weekly meal for us. It was absolutely gorgeous, because they thought to use our neighbour (they called him the delivery boy!), who would just let himself in. It meant we weren’t disturbed when we got home, and every time I walked in and saw the box of food on the floor I’d just burst into tears. It really got us through. Then the neighbouring farmers got in and sowed, sprayed, harvested for us and carted grain. They didn’t ask, they just did all the jobs, particularly over harvest. It was a terrible drought year. When my mother in law died it meant we could spend time together as a family. I work at the local primary school and my colleagues were amazing as well, recognising that I had to come into work sometimes and they were just so accepting. Even if I just needed to work for two hours, or curl up on the couch. Our daughter made it through Year 12 and is now having a ball at Uni, and Dennis and I are enjoying adapting to time on our own. Having our son disappearing from our lives hasn’t been resolved but we’re adjusting to doing things on our own. But people still say, call out and we’ll come and lend a hand. I thought of all the help as a big comfy blanket, wrapped around us; that’s what it felt like. People can be so helpful, so sincere. One amusing thing with people offering to help was when a close girlfriend, also from a farm, decided to give up drinking with me as I couldn’t drink during my chemo. When I began to feel okay she decided she felt much better and thought I’d corrupted her by suggesting we have a drink!

Photo by Susie Burke




Photos by Susie Burke & Jono Ingram





Photo by Jenny Pollard


Turned our life around

Wayne and Glenda Litton, Traveller’s Rest

A personal tragedy in 2014 had a devastating impact on our lives. Trying to cope was hard for both of us. While over time Glenda found friends, community commitments and social activities of great benefit, I felt that I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was working from home, and felt increasingly isolated. The situation was also compounded by a significant business loss. 2014/15 were dreadful years for both of us. An approach by a Traveller’s Rest committee member to help out with rostered management of the caravan park got us thinking. After some discussion and a subsequent application by Glenda and myself, we took on the management for 12 months. It was probably the best thing we ever did. It gave me another outlook and instead of just sitting around I was down there mowing lawns, cleaning and working, while also interacting and talking with customers. That was really, really important. It’s fantastic the people you come across, and the stories and places they’ve been! It really changed me and I started to get on with my life. Glenda says the turning point came about a month into the job. It was the peak season; we were very busy and were going home totally exhausted! I turned to Glenda and said how happy I felt. The change has been very positive for both of us. We have gotten into more of a routine now. We did a review and made some changes which have been for the better. The business has grown and we are excited to have people visit our fantastic Traveller’s Rest. It’s had some great reviews and of course word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising, with great comments amongst caravaners. It’s hard to know whether locals actually realise what a hidden gem it is, and just how much the town benefits from it. We’ve been stunned by the amount of traffic that comes through and stops. Visitors wander up the main street, they shop, they use the toilet facilities, the gazebo and their children use the playground. The vision and energy of the original locals in driving the establishment of this facility has certainly created something unique for Charlton.


Since we took over the business I feel more invigorated. I walk every day and am once again involved in Rotary, taking on the role of Community Services Director for this year. The work at the Traveller’s Rest has certainly been a great help to both of us and has turned our lives around.

People power

David Pollard, Rex Theatre Board Member

The Rex is certainly an icon in Charlton and throughout the Buloke region. We’re lucky to have a standalone cinema which is still operational and which has such a rich history. When you think about it, the Rex is really all about people. From the Keith brothers who founded it in 1938, to Geoff and Joan Edwards who ran it for almost thirty years, right on up to the current community ownership. It’s people power which has made and shaped the Rex. When it was threatened with closure the community stood up and pledged support to purchase it in 2007. Combined with Federal Government funding the wider Buloke community secured an entertainment venue which could benefit everyone. And then they volunteered their services to run it! That’s a commitment of three times a week, each and every week. You’ve got to admire their passion! We have regular volunteers from Donald, Birchip and Wedderburn, as well as Charlton locals. When the flood devastated Charlton, damage to the Rex was more than just to the bricks and mortar. With the town reeling, the job of getting the venue operational again seemed insurmountable. That’s when people power came to the fore again. People came from everywhere to give the town a hand to get back on its feet. Extended families, service clubs, surrounding towns and strangers, all willing and eager to make things right again. Without that support the cinema and Charlton could never have managed alone. The Rex was closed for a long time and I think many people wondered whether it would ever re-open. Once again, the renovation owed much to people’s offers of help and support, from the financial to the hands on, to the encouraging. Probably one of the most touching things was the local kids writing Please open soon on the window. The renovation was a big job, but we were very fortunate thanks to people extending the hand of friendship. The end result was the re-instatement of this unique facility. The re-opening night created a huge buzz for the town, bringing a feeling of optimism and excitement where people could forget their worries for one night and celebrate. It brought an economic boost to the town and was a good news story which Charlton really needed after the trauma of the flood. It also marked the revival of a much loved facility. The Rex has been on the brink of closure many times and at each crisis point something has come along to keep it going. There’s no denying it’s a survivor. Like Charlton, the Rex has moved forward because people are prepared to put up their hand. That’s people power at its best.

Photo by Jenny Pollard






A safety net

Harry Brindley, Ambulance Officer

I came here as a single dad with two kids, trying to put my feet down after major life changing events. All my daughter wanted was a horse; I really couldn’t see that happening. Shortly after our arrival, the local butcher knocked on our door. Believe your daughter wants a pony to join the Pony Club? There’s a couple tied to the ute outside for her to choose one. Later that year I joined the Pony Club Committee and whenever possible would volunteer my ambulance time to help with the club’s bigger events. Community networking provides a sense of emotionally belonging and the pleasure of giving, which helps individuals, grows club membership and strengthens community bonds. In the 25 years that I’ve been here, probably the biggest event would be the 2011 flood. I remained on-duty through the major event and for the start of the recovery phase. It was a hell of an issue. The first night I was the only paramedic in Charlton and with rising flood waters many access roads were being closed. I spent long hours worrying about a fellow officer who had never before worked the Charlton area. Before sunset, I’d seen him off on a patient transport to Bendigo, then after his departure the Calder Highway was closed. Finally he arrived home safely at 3am. The warning systems were out. The police said we were in real trouble. The next morning we evacuated all non-walking residents from the nursing home, plus a couple in the community who went to towns further afield. We kept one ambulance ready to attend any emergency locally or up north. From my career training and years of service, I’m blatantly aware things don’t always work out as planned, and was constantly looking out to see what other actions I could take. I believe this community is still reeling emotionally from that disaster. It was totally exhausting and absolutely soul destroying to lose everything; for everyone to lose everything. Our resilience possibly comes from the need to keep going. You just can’t sit down and not be buggered. We all have choices. To get up in the morning, accept that our world is different; that we are different, is my choice. I also firmly believe that today is better than yesterday. Probably the hardest thing was starting the recovery phase. Our boss called and asked me, are you alright? Learning of the little sleep we had had, he promptly said, pack your bags, you’re out of there. It was hard. I felt bad, and still do; to be removed from my community during the recovery phase was like breaking established links.


The local community is a safety net for personal and psychological wellbeing, and there’s a lot to be said about doing things for and with your community.

Photo by Judy Blackburn



Photos by Judy Blackburn & Jenny Pollard




People can work together Mary Fielding, Landcare

When the idea was put out of developing a Business Case of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline, the Birchip people were very concerned about what was going to happen to the environment, because you’re decommissioning 17,500 kilometres of channels and 22,000 dams. So we put together a group called Pipe Right. It was an exercise in the effectiveness of community action and we finally got 1,000 meg of environmental water. It took six years but it was a wonderful experience, seeing how people can work together, from all different perspectives of the pipeline. We had an incredibly dedicated group putting an enormous amount of work in, meeting politicians and putting money in. And what’s amazing is there was never a cross word. We worked incredibly well together and everything said in the Business Case came through! So it was a case of if you were organsized, well researched and you weren’t silly in your demands then the way you conduct your business can be done. Now we’ve been able to push more recreational water into the area. The environmental water is working really well and the amount of wildlife using those sites are really active and full of wildlife. There are all sorts of water birds, insect activity, seed eating birds that can’t move out of the area, bats that need water, and all sorts of fresh water species like tortoises, mussels, yabbies and all the water plants. I think everybody in the group found it very positive and we’re still friends from the experience. It started with an ad in the paper and people turned up so we discussed the issue and identified who wanted to do what. People came from amazing backgrounds and joined into three groups, looking at the social, economic and environmental aspects. It was a real triple bottom line result. We learnt a huge amount. It was a good working model. I think it taught us a lot of skills on how to conduct social actions, so if there is an issue that gets us hot under the collar again we’ll know how to tackle it. When you pull together a group of people it’s amazing the contacts they have, and how to work the media; TV and radio. You learn to develop a very thick skin. It was a collaborative group of a large pool of people and we came from all over the place. It was a very positive time and it set up contacts forever.


Photo by Brian Lea

Commitment to a community Carly Sharp, Mallee Root Roundup Ball

Probably over the last ten years we’ve injected about $200,000 into the community through running the ball. Every year there’s always something we fund, like the BBQ shelter at Tchum Lake, the refurbishment of the fitness track at the school, new equipment for the sports clubs and hospital, a community car, emergency support, kids play equipment and community celebrations. We try to support just about everything! That’s why we run the event. We’re a group of young people on the Committee and we have fun doing it as well. The Mallee Root Roundup Ball is about the dressing up and the country utes, with the community rewards at the end. We have about 150 volunteers from eight other Birchip committees which we could not do without. It takes a huge effort from everyone. Birchip’s a very resilient place. There are no empty shops in the town and I’m really proud of that. The economy changes with the seasons, driven by events like the drought, but generous small businesses, a P-12 School that is the envy of others, the Birchip Cropping Group and our various town committees are a sign of our commitment as a community. As kids growing up here, like lots of small towns we couldn’t wait to get out when we were older, but looking back, our best times have been here and especially out at Tchum Lake. I can’t imagine not having the water out there, and the town worked hard to get that to happen, to get the water and the surrounds flourishing. Prior to that it had no water for about 10 years, so when it started running in it was a very exciting time. Since then fish have been introduced and a fishing club started. It’s well booked during the summer season. Recreational water has to be purchased, and it takes a huge effort from the community to raise that money every year. That's the sort of thing the Ball Committee runs the event for. When visitors come to stay at the lake they are a great support of the town. They buy from the local businesses, so it has such a positive impact on so many people. I’m very passionate and love it here and couldn’t think of a better place to raise my family. I’m one of four siblings and after getting out and having our time away, three of us have returned to raise our families here. But we’re not unique. There are a lot of people who have returned to Birchip to raise their families. The saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ still rings true, and we all look out for each other.

Photo by Catherine Adriaans

L-R: Mark Bowen, Steven Branson, Brad Sharp, Rebekah Borden, Tom Braine, Nathan Blencowe, Gabbi Sanford, Emily Sanford, Brett Sanford, Steven Haslam, Nick Noonan, Chris O'Toole, Ciara Cullen, Kate O'Toole, Heath Hogan, Lauren Sharp, Carly Sharp.




Photos by Catherine Adriaans & Brian Lea




The beginning of somewhere Norman and Sharlene Harding, Residents

You couldn’t get a better place to come and live in, than a small country Mallee town like Culgoa. Everyone is just so friendly and will always go out of their way to help out. It’s just so fantastic. We’ve got all we need. Years ago the cafe closed down and there was no interest at all for new owners to take it on. So the community banded together with their own money and took it on. People in the community put money up front to get it up and running and it is still a community business after about 16 years. Julie Stevens moved here and works there in the cafe. She finds the people here are amazing, just so friendly and everyone supports everyone so well. Denis Barry runs the garage here that everyone relies on very much, and the locals and people further afield support it too. Asked if being right on the Calder Highway helps the business, he says, only when they break down. Denis is a one man business and has been here since leaving school here in Culgoa. Queenslanders Marty and Leigh Schoonderwoerd were looking for a business that suited their budget, and they came and had a look at the Culgoa pub. When they came looking they sat at the bar for four days just to see what business came through the door and as a result purchased the business, The Kaneira Hotel. They’ve opened up the back yard for free camping and caravan sites. And when they were asked how long they intended to stay, Marty said, as long as people will have us. They say that Culgoa was the centre of nowhere, but it is the middle of everywhere else, and the beginning of somewhere else!

Photo by Martin Schoonderwoerd





54 Photo by Marty Schoonderwoerd

Be resilient in yourself John Warne, Farmer

The Mallee can handle the dry weather better than the wet! I’ve been here all my life and I’ve been a farmer all my life. The biggest problem is losing our population which is being driven by drought, world economic events and the broad scale of agriculture. When I got home from boarding school in 1968 we had both my grandparents, my mother and father, my uncle and aunty, a working man and his wife. That was the workforce in 1968 and now I’m here running it on my own with my wife. Now the gross production of grain with probably a quarter of the workforce creates pressures for farmers to perform. With so few people than ever before, we have to, just to survive. In the old days people milked the cow and had one car and didn’t spend much. We have to create at a greater rate to keep up our standard of living. But the hardest thing has been the loss of community. We’re a very close knit community but we really aren’t the viable township we once were. We’ve gone from vibrant to non-viable. It’s certainly been a change all over Australia. In Culgoa, we all get on with each other, there’s very little jealousy and we are without any factions. We’ve been through the toughest times together, some really trying times. But in my lifetime you have to be resilient in yourself. It’s your own strengths that get you through. We’ve been here forever, my family, since selection. That’s about 128 years, on the same property. I’m a farmer, and with all the ups and downs, I don’t really want to live anywhere else.


Photo by Martin Schoonderwoerd



Photos by Brian Lea


A very special occasion Bev Cook, Community Leader OAM JP

I guess I’ve been involved in the community. I have held a few positions in a number of the local committees over the years. Nandaly’s only down to about 20 residents now. It means if anything’s on everyone’s got to do their bit. The younger ones are often out of town with their kids with footy and other sport, and now that the league is so far they have to travel, and oh, the mileage they must do! There’s about four or five ladies who keep the hall here tidy. And we do all get together a fair bit. I run The Biggest Morning Tea in Nandaly. It’s a charity event for cancer research. This year we had over 100 people in the hall. That was a big event! They came in buses, mostly they were activity groups for older people from the district. We had lots of cakes and lovely handcrafts as a fundraiser, and we raised over $3,000. I think there’s a lot of people who’ve been touched by cancer, so we have guest speakers. Usually we’ve got something going on up on the stage, like a display or something. It’s a day out and everyone really enjoys it. As the hostess, I now have a lovely collection of really nice cups and saucers, like it’s a high tea! It feels like a very special occasion. It’s a social event and everyone goes home all happy. I think it comes back to the cancer thing. There are some of us who are survivors or have lost love ones. I think everybody wants to raise money because somewhere down the line someone’s going to find the answer. We hope.

Photo by Catherine Adriaans






The spirit of our community Lacey Elliott, Resident

I live and work on the family farm about nine kilometres out of Nandaly. We grow crops, run a cattle feedlot and we also train horses. Nandaly is not very big. There's a pub and a shop and that's about it. Even though there's not that many people, there is a great sense of community. Everyone knows who you are and everyone's willing to chip in. We all play sport; everyone either plays netball or footy during the winter and tennis or cricket during the summer. Sport brings us all together and is really social. I plan on staying here. I did an 18 month sports massage course in Melbourne; some of it by correspondence; and it only reinforced my love of the country. Melbourne's too busy, there's too many people. It's nice to come home and see some familiar faces. I train quarter horses for cutting and we show them all around Australia. A lot of our buyers are in Queensland. I've competed at open non-pro level which is the best you can get without going pro. I joined the CFA a couple of months ago. There's a few other younger volunteers which is great. We haven't done much yet but we're expecting a pretty big year because of all the weeds around; it's a bit scary. There's usually one big fire a year, usually it's a header fire. Everyone, even if they aren't in the CFA, will drop everything if there's a fire and do whatever they can do. During harvest I work at the grain silos in Nandaly. A few farmers chipped in and bought it as a cooperative a few years ago. I reckon that's a real testament to the spirit of our community. I work as a grain sampler and on the weighbridge as well. My younger brother and cousin also work on the farm. During harvest we usually have the header going all day and all night until everything's full. The crops look really good this year so hopefully the rain stays away until harvest.


Photo by Catherine Adriaans

Photos by Jamie Buteux & Catherine Adriaans




Sea Lake

Photo by Jamie Buteux


Positive about the future

Alison McClelland, Sea Lake Hardware Co-operative Sea Lake had always been a really vibrant community, however at the end of 2014 there was a real fear of losing our identity with the newsagency, post office, motel and a café up for sale. Around this time there were also rumours that the owner of the local hardware store was preparing to close as there was a new hardware franchise opening up in Swan Hill. Feeling deflated about the prospect of not being able to compete, the owner had packed up his store and left. This left a big shop in the middle of town empty and the locals were concerned about the future of the town. In early September 2015 a local farmer and dedicated community member came upon the idea to re-establish the hardware store with a local crowd funding proposition. He flagged the idea and set some of the groundwork and then called a public meeting. Over 100 people attended this meeting! The decision was quickly made to form a community co-operative. In six weeks locals had pledged more than $200,000 and the wheels were in motion. The funds allowed the cooperative to purchase the freehold of the property, employ a full time manager and fill the store with stock. It was fantastic to see our shareholders at working bees to clean the store and prepare it for trading. From inception, it was six months before the store opened for business on February 22nd, 2016. Sea Lake Hardware has been trading for 10 months now and going well. I haven’t had any previous experience in the retail game but it's really interesting. We keep our prices really competitive but we still have people who come in and say, we bought this or that from elsewhere, but they could’ve bought it cheaper here. I think the difference with our store is that it's community owned, so people have a vested interest in making sure it works. Down the track we'll look to diversify but we don't know what that will be yet. I’m really positive about the future of Sea Lake. All of the businesses, apart from the café, have sold and the new owners have brought fresh enthusiasm. The ABC did a feature on Sea Lake about the Chinese tourist boom out at Lake Tyrrell. Although there has been a focus on that, we find most of the people we've spoken to in the store are grey nomads who've made a diversion to visit Lake Tyrrell. Just recently there was a couple from Byron Bay who were on their way to Lake Eyre and ended up coming here for five days!


Living in a small town and getting involved in the community is great. I suppose in every little town you've got your people who have ideas, those who run with those ideas and your contributors. I think all little towns are made up of that structure. I personally like to think of what we can do and then do it. We all have a real sense of community, and the co-operative is proof of that.

A sense of connection

Jane Stacey and Bron Alday, Lake Tyrrell Steering Committee Jane


From an economic sense, the attention the lake’s bringing to Sea Lake is great. The motel is always booked out. The pub has lots of visitors, and we’re also getting a lot of domestic interest, particularly from grey nomads passing through. It’s also been good for the caravan park. The top cafe is getting a lot more trade too. There’s also been a swing in the international visitors coming here to see the lake; it’s now not just the top end tourists but students and backpackers too. I think social media is really getting the Lake Tyrrell story out more now, everyone’s seeing it.

Humans have been visiting Lake Tyrrell for approximately 30,000 years before the present day. There is evidence of camping that has been carbon dated and is one of the oldest known sites of human occupation in the south of Australia.

It’s been really good for the children in the town to see all the different nationalities visiting, and how they’re trying to engage with the visitors. In the beginning they were really shy because they hadn’t seen any overseas visitors. Now, especially at the lake, the kids are talking to everyone they come across out there! It’s certainly opened up the eyes of the locals. Now they’re heading out with their deck chairs to watch the sunset. Or out taking photos, and even talking about new business ventures, so that’s been a really positive thing. Before, they never even went out there.

The Boorong People have a long connection with the area and Lake Tyrrell. They formed an important meeting and trading point for the tribes of North West Victoria. It was in this unique environment, with the stars reflecting on the still waters at night, that the mythology of the Boorong was born. There is a saying that everything that is on earth is reflected in the night sky and the seasons and animals on earth found their spiritual home amongst the stars above Lake Tyrrell. When Europeans settled the area around Sea Lake, William Stanbridge, who had the lease of Tyrrell Downs, engaged the local Indigenous men in conversation and they shared their cultural heritage with him. Stanbridge recorded these stories and presented them to the Royal Society in Melbourne, preserving them in the written record. Astronomers interested in Indigenous astronomy eventually discovered this rich primary source of information and the Boorong stories are well known amongst academic circles in astronomy. In my role as preschool teacher I have found a close connection with the local stories and include Indigenous perspectives in our program and planning. Our hope is that in sharing these stories, our children will create a lifelong connection to the area. Even when they are living elsewhere they can look up to the sky and see these stars and think back to their time in Sea Lake with fondness and a sense of connection.


Sea Lake


Photo by Maggie Stacey

Photos by Susie Burke & Catherine Adriaans


Sea Lake



Photo by Catherine Adriaans Photo by Catherine Adriaans


Encouragement, friendship, ownership and pride Garry and Helen Summerhayes Community Development Group

Berriwillock is no different to other rural towns, in that the town has had to adapt to the changing times. Population decline, demise of businesses in the town and the variability of our climate has led to a variety of income and general issues. This story has been playing out for the last few decades, but emerging is a recognition that if these towns are to exist we have to work together as one to make things happen. Our pub is a wonderful example. Bobby and Amanda Borlase came to the hotel’s rescue and breathed new vigour and life back into it and we’re grateful for their efforts. Bobby grew up in Berriwillock and warmly we welcome him back. Berriwillock also has a Post Office, CFA, a pool, a park with clean amenities, floral group, young mums group, enthusiastic sporting groups, Uniting Church and others. Socially, these groups are an asset to the town’s health. The residents support them and that’s their success story. The Berriwillock Community Development Group plays a big role in supporting our town’s life. This group was once known as the Berriwillock Social and Welfare Group. The name may have changed but its ethos is still looking out for the welfare of our residents and keeping our town moving along. From the group comes ideas such as our recent 2016 Back To Berriwillock celebrations, a Civic Reception for last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, Darren Weir, and a day catering the Birchip Cropping Group. These were all formalized at the Development Meeting. The group also organizes catering for various groups, funerals, weddings and parties. Anything that requires organisation to help them run successfully is done by the Community Group.


Small towns exist on the viewpoint that if we don’t work together, nothing will happen, or it won’t work as well. Luckily we have our residents, town and rural, young and more senior, who happily volunteer to help. It’s a philosophy with its genesis in our pioneering past; you work with the resources that you have, small or big. It would be easy to just drift along as it’s hard to muster enthusiasm when times are tough, but working together brings encouragement and friendship to each other when times are hard. People of all ages turn up to help, and it gives ownership and pride to our town and to help it survive. This scenario has worked for Berriwillock.



The long haul

Bob Borlayse, Publican, Golden Crown Hotel

It was rather a shock to be asked whether I'd be interested in taking on the pub. It had been closed for about four months and there were no other businesses open in town. The only service left was the post office. At the time I'd been in Moulamein for the better part of three and a half years working as a builder and doing renovations on the Tattersalls Hotel and repairing woolsheds and kitchens. Prior to that I'd been in the hospitality industry in Queensland for fourteen years. I was coming over to Berriwillock from Moulamein to play golf on most weekends. On our breakup weekend we were having a few drinks and people asked me if I'd be interested in taking the pub on. It was a massive task but my partner Amanda and I decided to go for it. The buoyancy around the place has been tremendous since Melbourne Cup Day, 2015, which is still talked about quite heartily in the bar. We were still doing renovations but we opened for the day and ran a little sweep as Darren Weir had a horse running, Prince of Penzance. We probably had a dozen people here. It was a bit surreal when he won; there were people running up and down the street yahooing and cheering. Everyone in the pub was celebrating. I was so busy doing the sweep that I didn't have a penny on him! The following week Darren brought the Cup to town and we worked flat out to make sure the pub was ready for people to come in. The day after the solicitor called and said we had the licence to re-open and we went from there. I grew up here and I have to say this community is very resilient and supportive. If we need something done the locals just jump in and help. We've had to totally rebuild areas of the hotel and we wouldn't have been able to afford it without the community's help. The reopening of the pub has certainly rejuvenated the town. On our busiest Saturday night we did 108 meals which speaks volumes for a little town like this. We're in the process of opening a little general store. It's an ageing population and we don't want to see the older residents on the highway just to get milk and bread. We want to give back to the community. We don't draw a wage as such, everything goes back into the pub. We are here for the long haul, we've put so much into it now.


Photo by Catherine Adriaans




Photos by Catherine Adriaans & Susie Burke

Support contacts ACSO Connect

1300 022 760

Beyond Blue

1300 224 636

Buloke Shire Council

1300 520 520

Bendigo Health - Psychiatric Services Regional Triage

1300 363 788

East Wimmera Health Service Kids Helpline Lifeline Mallee District Aboriginal Services

5477 2111 1800 551 800 13 11 14 5032 8600

Mallee Track Health & Community Service: Program Leader, Social & Community Development

0438 950 202

Rural Financial Counselling Service

1300 769 489

Your local GP

Back cover photo by Suzi Thompson, photo this page by Susie Burke


Front cover: Elaine and Len Storey, Wycheproof - farmers and local volunteers (Wycheproof Historical Society & Museum, Uniting Church, Probus, Lions Club, Teddywaddy CFA, Wycheproof/Charlton Band and St Michael’s Catholic Church; Chloe Walsh, Charlton - centre (Student, Charlton CFA Volunteer). Photo by Jenny Pollard. Photo this page by Catherine Adriaans

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