Success Stories in Loddon

Backpackers fill labor void.
2012/08/08 | Sophie Bruns

Trouble with finding labor for their dairy farm meant Dingee residents Peter and Donna Sexton needed to look outside the square for help. Reluctantly they decided to give back packer labor a go and since they made that decision they haven’t looked back. “We had had trouble trying to find Australian workers- initially we weren’t that keen on the idea but we have had three couples come and stay with us now,and they have all been really good,” Peter said. “Having someone to help work takes the pressure off and we can even watch the kids with their sport on the weekends. Before it was just the two of us and the work load was just getting too much when you are milking 280 cows and calving in both spring and autumn.” The backpackers stay for around three months and live in the second house on the Sextons farm rent free, in exchange for two milkings a week. They supply their own ABN for any additional work they do. “The backpackers send in an account every fortnight and I don’t have to worry about the hassle of paying super or withholding tax. It really is a simple and easy way of employing labor.” For Aislinge Mayo and her partner Claran (Ronno for short) backpackers from the west of Ireland, the arrangement is a win-win situation. They are able to get in and work hard, earn some extra money and extend their visa to spend more time travelling the country. Aisligne works with the Sexton’s milking and doing odd jobs during the day while Claran works at a dairy farm down the road. “My dad had a small dairy farm so I know my way around cows, my partner hasn’t been around livestock at all but he manages all right.” Aisligne said. “I always had it my mind to do some farming work when we travelled, and friends of mine had done it before. The experience is really worth it and you get to see and experience different things. We have been to the footy, the local pub (of course) and I am involved in the local play- we have met so many people. I just love Australia and when we stayed in Sydney I met more Irish people then I knew in Dublin.” Modernising their irrigation infrastructure through NVIRP and the On Farm Efficiency Program has also helped improve labor issues for the family. Two thirds of the farm is now serviced by a looped black brute pipeline that delivers 19 Ml per day. “It is a great system and when you are busy irrigating it is just magic to be able to do it easily,” Peter said. With a bit of irrigation water around this year Peter has planted a third of his pasture to perennial grasses while two thirds are still annuals. “One thing we don’t have to worry about this year is water. It’ll be good to be able to farm and not worry about water for once” Donna said.

Friends raise money for cancer through a community event.
2012/08/08 | Sophie Bruns

For the past 12 years Dingee two women have grown accustom to the sounds of conversation, laughter and the clinking of coffee cups as the hosts of Dingee’s Biggest Morning Tea. Friends Wendy Twigg and her good friend Robyn Falls had no idea that what initially started out as a gathering of 20 people in a backyard to raise a bit of money would grow in popularity, to attract over 400 guests and raise in excess of $60,000 for breast cancer. “I am so surprised, the morning tea has evolved each year as more people come and more money is raised, it has become more than just a community event, it’s now a public event,” Wendy said. This year people travelled from as far afield as Melbourne, the Goulburn Valley and of course the local area, and while the final tally is yet to be determined, this years morning tea has raised over $14,000. The girls are quick to add that the success of the day isn’t just down to them, their team of 20 helpers which include MG suppliers Donna Sexton and Jenny Hocking also help the day run smoothly. “There are 20 odd adults in the team (plus kids) and we provide all the food except for some of the hot food which is donated by Gillies pies. We have mixed it up with different themes over the years including dairying and our original team has grown a bit as other friends have come aboard.” Wendy said the event has attracted awards within the Loddon shire including an Australia Day award in 2008 and a community event of the year award. “The awards have helped lift the morning teas profile but we certainly don’t do it for that, we do it for the cause.” Wendy said there is a real danger the event will outgrow its current location ( Robyn’s home) but they will continue on for next year at least. “It’s a big thing for Robyn and Col to open up their yard to so many people each year but Col reckons there is still room for another 50 people yet.”

Wedderburn is spot on for tourists
2012/05/01 | Sophie Bruns

The country town of Wedderburn has been given the thumbs up by riders in last year’s RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride with the town voted “Most Favorite Town’ and “Most Welcoming” in an online survey by participants (Boort came in a very close second.) Located just 225 km from Melbourne, Wedderburn is a town rich in goldfields history. Surrounded by towering box and ironbark trees and numerous species of native flora and fauna, the township is rich and diverse. Close to good old fashioned country pubs, boutique wineries, areas of historical and cultural significance, fishing and bird watching, Wedderburn offers a relaxed and affordable country lifestyle. Town facilities include an excellent range of services -kindergarten, primary and secondary college, doctor, senior citizens, sporting clubs, interest groups and a shopping centre to supply a wide range of goods and services. When the 4000 bike riders, volunteers and support crew passed through Murray River and Goldfields regions in December, they generated around $2 million in tourism dollars. Bicycle Network Victoria's event manager  Darren Allen, said the online survey showed bike riders appreciated the amount of work townships put in to welcome them.   “All communities throughout the ride worked hard to showcase their towns, many closing streets and providing activities for the riders,” Mr Allen said.   The survey went on to illustrate that around 70 per cent of respondents intend to revisit towns or areas they passed through over the next 12 months which created a great opportunity for the Shire to really build on what has been achieved.   This year ride will take in the sights of Gippsland and according to Mr Allen, organisers would do well to look to Loddon’s example.   “Future towns should look at what the towns along the 2011 route provided for some hints,” he said.

Dingee's morning tea attracts big crowd
2012/06/02 | Sophie Bruns

For the past 12 years good friends Wendy Twigg and Robyn Falls have hosted Dingee’s Biggest Morning Tea and what started out as a small gathering has grown into something much bigger than either of them expected. The girls initially started out with a gathering of 20 people in a backyard to raise a bit of money for breast cancer, this year over 400 people attended the morning tea.  The girls have raised in excess of $60,000 for breast cancer over the time which is not a bad effort for a small country town. “I am so surprised, the morning tea has evolved each year as more people come and more money is raised, it has become more than just a community event, it’s now a public event,” Wendy said. This year people travelled from as far afield as Melbourne, the Goulburn Valley and of course the local area, and while the final tally is yet to be determined, this years morning tea has raised over $14,000. The girls are quick to add that the success of the day isn’t just down to them, their team of 20 helpers which include MG suppliers Donna Sexton and Jenny Hocking also help the day run smoothly. “There are 20 odd adults in the team (plus kids) and we provide all the food except for some of the hot food which is donated by Gillies pies. We have mixed it up with different themes over the years including dairying and our original team has grown a bit as other friends have come aboard.” Wendy said the event has attracted awards within the Loddon shire including an Australia Day award in 2008 and a community event of the year award. “The awards have helped lift the morning teas profile but we certainly don’t do it for that, we do it for the cause.” Wendy said there is a real danger the event will outgrow its current location ( Robyn’s home) but they will continue on for next year at least. “It’s a big thing for Robyn and Col to open up their yard to so many people each year but Col reckons there is still room for another 50 people yet.” On a personal note Wendy and her husband John milk 100 cows at Tandara South near Dingee. They have been involved in the industry for 15 years. Their cows are milked through an 8 a side double up dairy. The couple have plans to build up stock numbers after reducing numbers during the drought. “The drought hit our plans for expansion on the head but we are starting to think about all that again,” she adds.

Country town given thumbs up by riders
2012/02/29 | Sophie Bruns

      The country town of Wedderburn has been given the thumbs up by riders in last year’s RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride with it voted “Most Favorite Town’ and “Most Welcoming” in an online survey by participants (Boort came in a very close second.)   Located just 225 km from Melbourne, Wedderburn is a town rich in goldfields history.   Surrounded by towering box and ironbark trees and numerous species of native flora and fauna, the township is rich and diverse.   Close to good old fashioned country pubs, boutique wineries, areas of historical and cultural significance, fishing and bird watching, Wedderburn offers a relaxed and affordable country lifestyle.   Town facilities include an excellent range of services -kindergarten, primary and secondary college, doctor, senior citizens, sporting clubs, interest groups and a shopping centre to supply a wide range of goods and services.   When the 4000 bike riders, volunteers and support crew passed through the Murray River and Goldfields regions in December, they generated around $2 million in tourism dollars.   Bicycle Network Victoria's event manager  Darren Allen, said the online survey showed bike riders appreciated the amount of work townships put in to welcome them.   “All communities throughout the ride worked hard to showcase their towns, many closing streets and providing activities for the riders,” Mr Allen said.   The survey went on to illustrate that around 70 per cent of respondents intend to revisit towns or areas they passed through over the next 12 months which created a great opportunity for the Shire to really build on what has been achieved.   This year ride will take in the sights of Gippsland and according to Mr Allen, organisers would do well to look to Loddon’s example.       “Future towns should look at what the towns along the 2011 route provided for some hints,” he said.

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