Gayndah’s chance at creating a legacy
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).
CHALLENGE: Small town specialist Peter Kenyon questions Gayndah residents about how they want to change their town for the better.