Guyra Showgrounds’ upgrade comes just in time
Guyra Show Society President and sixth-generation Angus cattle farmer Richard Post explains that he's frustrated by a recurring image that's perpetuated during drought.
"I don't see the poor farmer with no grass in his paddocks as a positive message," he says. "It doesn't capture what's going on. Sure, he's under pressure, but the resilience that comes out of that and the community checking on each other in a local sense is quite amazing – it makes you feel proud. I get goosebumps when I think about this."
In July last year, the Guyra Show Society was awarded a $57,260 grant through the Tackling Tough Times Together program for drought-affected communities, thanks to the generosity of ANZ and private donors. The 120-year-old Guyra Showgrounds' barbeque and bar pavilion required a much-needed upgrade and local fundraising had only got the Society so far. The canteen facilities weren't together, putting considerable strain on volunteers in a community already under pressure due to drought.
The Guyra Show is held annually each February, and the first stage of the project saw the upgrade of the old barbeque area into a fully functional kitchen, complete with ovens and hotplates, shelving and a sink. The barbeque, meanwhile, was incorporated into the new space.
One of the project's priorities was to make use of local trades, which had been at a standstill off the back of the drought in what is an agriculture-driven economy. With the work quoted up and ready to go as part of the grant application process, the trades were able to get to work as soon as the grant funding became available.
"The local tradesmen were grateful for the work, and we know them at arms-length. They knew that we needed the work done soon, so they made it a priority," says Richard. "Tradies have always got work; it's just a matter of how far they have to travel to get it. The beauty of this one is that it's right in their hometown."
With the majority of this first stage of work completed in September and early October, the new space quickly became a hive of activity when the Showgrounds were used as a base for fire crews who were fighting the nearby Wandsworth bushfire throughout November.
"A lot of the volunteers came up and camped at the showground, which was also a refuge centre for people to evacuate to," says Richard. "A lot of the Coles staff had volunteered to help out, so they served a lot of meals and used it as a base to feed a lot of people. It was just great to see it in full-flight with heaps of people using it. There's lots of space so you can get plenty of people in there. There was no way we could have done that if it wasn't for the update. It just would have been a little isolated BBQ under a roof."