Events are important
By CHRIS EARL
TOURISM means much more to communities across the Loddon than acting as a convenient stopping point for people travelling between Melbourne and Mil-dura, a pit stop for river enthusiasts heading to the Murray.
As we have seen over the past two years, when the limitations of lockdowns are lifted, there has been a tendency for people to travel within their own region. No more than a hour from home, Loddon towns have seen people opt for a safer model of tourism (no risk of being locked out of a state and unable to get home).
There is still a pervading thought of caution to how far people are prepared to travel. Some have opted to venture to the beach, others more tempted to go back into New South Wales and Victoria. Western Australia is just a dream as the third year of dealing and living with COVID appears around the corner.
That desire to perhaps explore more of the backyard, you could even call it convenience, will be around a while yet.
Our communities have seen countless events cancelled in 2020 and 2021. Yet events are a way of encouraging people to come into the Loddon, to explore and experience the history and the bushlands, the unique small businesses that in so many cases are equal and better to anything in the nation.
Only a few weeks back, we had the story that the Serpentine Centenary Air Race will finally be held in March - a local committee and aviation professionals as one have kept the focus for two years.
It was heartening this week to write two stories. The Detector Jambouree will proceed in Wedderburn next month after missing a couple of years. And about the Rheola Charity Carnival, stuck on having been held 149 times and still waiting to celebrate its sesquicentenary.
That Rheola’s committee is now looking outside the square at options for another date in 2022 (COVID compliance has all but ruled out Easter) is a sign of confidence and commitment. The Rheola beacon could be replicated across the Loddon.
Last year, several members of the Friends of Kooyoora advocated a return of musical performances that saw Sunday trippers once head to Melville Caves.
Musical performances could be placed in other unique locations - think about listening to a classical quartet in the hall at Derby or the long-abandoned Kurting Mechanics’ Institute. Or what about at the Eucalyptus Museum, the scent of gum leaves wafting around the performers?
This year’s Loddon Shire community event award went to Pyramid Hill Football Netball Club for an event that brought footballers and netballers together, helping them come out of a season lost to COVID. That club thought creatively, outside the square, and delivered an event so popular it’s back again next month.
Not all events are big, Even those with boutique-size crowds work. All could bring more people to the Loddon.