Gayn­dah’s chance at cre­at­ing a legacy

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - SAM TURNER

EV­ERY­THING from an aquatic cen­tre, a youth hub and an ice cream shop were sug­gested for Gayn­dah’s ul­ti­mate makeover.

Af­ter Gayn­dah was cho­sen in Ru­ral Aid’s Ten Town Makeover, a com­mu­nity plan­ning event at the show­grounds on Fe­bru­ary 1 was brim­ming with sug­ges­tions.

Small town spe­cial­ist Peter Kenyon and Ru­ral Aid co-founder Tracey Alder and her team pre­sented Gayn­dah with the tools to cre­ate a fu­ture.

Mr Kenyon had been to Gayn­dah pre­vi­ously, help­ing the mayor at the time, Peter Huth, with a her­itage restora­tion project for the main street.

“One of the last rec­om­men­da­tions was con­sid­er­ing de­vel­op­ing a walk­ing trail along the river, and in a month’s time that’ll be a re­al­ity,” Mr Kenyon said.

“The start of some­thing is very im­por­tant, and that’s what we want to do tonight.”

Want­ing to de­velop a road map for Gayn­dah, Mr Kenyon urged peo­ple to say what they wanted the town to feel like, be like, and look like in five years.

“You’ve got some great her­itage as­sets, you’ve got a proud com­mu­nity, and it’s amaz­ing what’s gone on so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally over time.

“It’s a town not short of images, so what is the im­age you would like to push?”

Mr Kenyon high­lighted Gayn­dah’s tak­ing pride in be­ing the oldest town in Queens­land, the cit­rus cap­i­tal, and the new river town.

He cited Gayn­dah’s lo­ca­tion, cit­rus ex­ports, wildlife, and phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

He even cited the lit­tle ec­cen­tric­i­ties of the town, such as the ver­ti­cal sig­nage.

“That’s you, you’re dif­fer­ent, and it’s those fea­tures that let you stand out from the pack.”

All pos­i­tive things aside, Mr Kenyon is a man who likes to be prag­matic and he cited the harsh times Gayn­dah has ex­pe­ri­enced.

“It has been a town that has been bashed re­ally badly, par­tic­u­larly those floods in 2011 and 2013, and the im­pact they had.

“Then the years of drought that fol­lowed.

“These are the ori­gins where this meet­ing has come from, and the ef­forts the town is mak­ing to bounce back from that.

“It’s part of the re­al­ity of liv­ing in small towns, when it comes to dis­as­ter we do rally.”

Mr Kenyon ham­mered home the themes of com­mu­nity, friend­ship, and sup­port which small towns need to thrive, and sur­vive.

This need for sur­vival was ev­i­dent when Gayn­dah ral­lied to cre­ate a com­mu­nity bank, be­com­ing one of 321 towns across the na­tion to do so.

“Twenty years ago the four big banks turned their backs on ru­ral Aus­tralia, and closed 5000 bank branches, sacked 15,000 staff, and some coun­try towns were left with no bank,” Mr Kenyon said.

Through hard work, and com­mu­nity sup­port, Gayn­dah raised the $1 mil­lion needed in shares hold­ing to cre­ate their own bank.

“You know how to do things here, and that’s just one ex­am­ple.”

Through­out the evening groups of five par­tic­i­pated in ta­ble dis­cus­sions on what they would like to re­tain/ keep, change/mod­ify, re­gain, and start/cre­ate for Gayn­dah in the next five years.

Al­most 70 ideas had been put for­ward by the end of evening and a fi­nal vote was cast by those in at­ten­dance.

Some of the ideas with the most votes in­cluded:

– Com­mu­nity hub like a YMCA (re­gain)

– Jobs for young peo­ple (re­gain)

– Overnight camp­ing area for trav­ellers (start)

– Fresh sig­nage on both sides of town (start)

– Co­he­sive tourism strat­egy (start)

– Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion of the main street (change)

– Turn pool into com­mu­nity meet­ing place (change)

– Lo­cal su­per­mar­kets with lo­cal pro­duce (change)

– Pool and its op­er­a­tors (re­tain)

- Fes­ti­vals (re­tain)

- Wa­ter ski area (re­tain).

Pic­ture: Sam Turner

CHAL­LENGE: Small town spe­cial­ist Peter Kenyon ques­tions Gayn­dah res­i­dents about how they want to change their town for the bet­ter.

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