Around 12 months ago the Adelong Showground Management Committee applied for grant funding to complete upgrades to the showground and the pavilion. One year later, the improvements could not be more necessary.
Shane Walsh of the Management Committee said that when news began filtering through that they had been successful in attaining the $308,000 grant funding a year ago, the committee grew from there and has probably tripled in size now.
A number of improvements have been made to the showground, including: upgrades to all power and PA systems, an awning over the suspended deck, drainage and irrigation systems for the grounds, new fencing, new lighting features and more.
“Myself and Keith Harrison were the main instigators in undertaking all the work and making sure everything was done to how we wanted,” Mr Walsh said.
“We tried to use local tradesman where we could, especially with the electrical and the PA system.”
The awning over the suspended deck was built free-of-charge by a local tradesman and builder.
“We had them come over on a couple of Saturdays and they actually put the awning up free of charge,” Mr Walsh said.
“We had a few materials that were donated for that and a bit of freight and stuff.”
The entire project was a big community effort, especially when it came to the fencing.
The old fencing needed to be ripped down and replaced with white steel power coated fencing.
“I got together a good crew of blokes who I thought were good in that particular area to help me with the fence,” Mr Walsh said.
“We did it over probably five Saturdays with a band of volunteers.
“The first Saturday was probably a little bit hit-and-miss, but once we got into a routine, it didn’t take long at all for it to all come together.”
The showground upgrades were all completed before the Dunns Road Fire hit, which worked out well for Mr Walsh and Mr Harrison as they are both involved with the RFS.
The showground upgrades were also an enormous help for BlazeAid, who established a basecamp at the showground in January.
When the committee applied for funding a year ago and completed all the upgrades, they had no idea the bushfires were coming and that BlazeAid would be setting up at the showground, so Mr Walsh said this is a prime example that “things happen for a reason.”
“If twelve months ago you told me that [BlazeAid] were gonna set up at the showground, I would have thought, you know, it wouldn’t be very practical.
“I really think that…BlazeAid wouldn’t have been able to set up down there if we hadn’t of made these improvements, especially with power.
“The money that’s been spent has been spent very well and now, with disasters like this, the showground can handle a big thing like that in the capacity that it did.”
Mr Walsh said that the committee hasn’t just taken a back seat after completing the upgrades, either. Women from the committee have been at the BlazeAid camp every Monday night, cooking for the volunteers and helping with catering.
All in all, Mr Walsh said that everyone is very pleased with the upgrades and that the showground is looking great. He said there is even a bit of money leftover, as they came in under budget.
The committee is in the process of applying for more grants. They are hoping to get an insulated ceiling in the old pavilion area, and to also replace the floors in the pavilion.
“Makes you feel pretty good to be an Adelonian and to be able to chip in and help out,” Mr Walsh said.
“Everyone chipped in and helped not just to do the paperwork but also to get in, hands on, and dig some holes and mix concrete. We had all ages of people, anywhere from 30 all the way to 80 down there helping us.”