Ten towns across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia will receive up to $100,000 over five years to plan and implement projects, activities and facilities to invigorate local economies and support rural communities. Lockington, in northern Victoria, was the Victorian winner of Rural Aid’s Ten Towns Makeover initiative.
Lockington Planning Group Chair Wendy Sims says residents were delighted to receive the support and recognition, which will help complete a number of projects including a new walking trail between Lockington and nearby Kotta.
“Lockington is only a small town with about 400 residents and the same people wear a lot of different hats,” says Wendy, who is a former teacher, long-time fire brigade volunteer, bookkeeper and Secretary of the Ladies Day tennis and landcare groups.
“Our town is a town that pulls together and gets things done. We are always trying to find ways to encourage more people to visit Lockington and enjoy their time here,” says Wendy.
Sixteen years ago, the town faced the possibility of its only fuel station closing. “We thought, ‘If we lose the fuel station, we may lose the town, so we got together and bought the fuel station. Sixteen years later, it is still going strong and largely run by volunteers,” explains Wendy.
A similar co-operative was formed when the local pub, the Lockington Hotel, faced closure. The pub now serves around 100 meals a night on weekends and locals are giving back to their own community.
Tracy Alder, Rural Aid’s Engaging Community Officer and Co-founder says Lockington residents were worthy winners. “I have travelled a lot around Australia and I don’t think I have seen a town as proactive as theirs. Lockington is a vibrant town full of very community-minded people committed to building their town and helping themselves. The Ten Towns initiative has helped draw attention to smaller rural towns so people can see what’s out there, go there and see some real gems.”
Apart from its popular pub, Lockington has a historic Heritage Centre, sports clubs, regular annual events, library, Men’s Shed, parks, walking trails and community gardens initiative. Volunteers are involved in many of the groups and activities including the town’s thriving Bush Nursing Centre which offers personal transport to medical appointments.
The town received a Look Over The Farm Gate grant through the Victorian Farmers Federation last year which supported a dinner for locals to connect and enjoy time out together. Later this year [if coronavirus restrictions allow], Rural Aid’s Farm Army volunteers plan to spend a week in Lockington, buying supplies and food in town to bolster local businesses and working on projects such as the walking rail trail.
“As an organisation, Rural Aid realises that local towns are the heart of Australia. When people move away for work or leave the area, the whole town suffers, including farmers and the agricultural community,” says Wendy.
Pictured above: Lockington residents and volunteers gather to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the local Business Centre. Lockington is the Victorian winner of Rural Aid’s Ten Towns Makeover initiative