Community effort adds shines to tidiest town

31 Dec, 2003 10:00 PM
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LAST year, Wyalkatchem was judged the tidiest town in Australia.

At a national level the town was competing with large east coast centres such as Cowra, Horsham and Gladstone, with budgets that the Wyalkatchem community could only dream of.

Tidy Towns coordinator for the past 10 years, Bobbie Reilly played a huge role in pulling together the town¹s entry and she was recognised for her efforts recently when named the winner of the 2003 Individual Environment Award.

Bobbie¹s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and she readily captured the minds and hearts of the entire shire.

Operating on a very low budget, Bobbie and assistant Sheryl Wood coordinated an amazing community effort, making do with what was available.

³We had the backing of the shire, but we door knocked for volunteers and the school and service groups pitched in,² she said.

Wyalkatchem has had a 30-year history in the Keep Australia Beautiful Council Tidy Towns competition.

But entering the competition is not a matter of sweeping the streets and tidying up the gardens.

The judges want evidence of a robust community with living proof of environmental policies, youth initiatives and community pride.

Wyalkatchem had taken out the state award for tidiest town in 1986 and 2000, and in 2001 the Australian Tidy Town award for community spirit.

The shire population was just 630 but the community tackled a host of projects.

Shop roofs were painted with donated paint, previously bare shed and shop walls turned into murals, the cemetery was cleaned up, graves were marked and a gazebo was built, water wise gardens filled up what were previously areas of gravel and an airstrip was built.

These projects relied largely on donated goods and time.

Old wheat elevators were given a new home at each one of the four entrances into town.

The individual limestone blocks that supported the cranes were funded by locals at $10 and the handiwork carried out by a local stonemason.

In one of the murals, which depicted wool being transported by horse and cart, families sponsored the 15 wool bales at $100 per bale.

Bobbie said the bales were oversubscribed and she could have sold more than 100.

The funds went to a gazebo at the cemetery.

The rubbish tip now caters for recycled oil, car bodies, household waste, asbestos as well as the waste from the town¹s rubbish truck.

Local farmers and townspeople carted 14,000 tonnes of gravel to build the Royal Flying Doctor standard airstrip which saved the shire $300,000.

The town¹s youth turned out in utes to pick up rubbish, clean up gardens and the cemetery in a ute-athon.

The national judges were due in town two weeks after a dust storm and just half a day after a massive thunderstorm and deluge which left the town without power.

Locals took to the streets at first light with rakes and brooms and by noon Bobbie said you could not tell the difference.

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