Creating a space for community groups to gather
Located half-a-days drive (476kms), or an hours' flight, west of Brisbane is the township of Roma. It's home to the 14 hectare Roma Bush Gardens.
The gardens were established in 1998 by a group of volunteers from the Roma Bush Gardens Association (RGBA) who set about recreating the native habitats of the region. It's provided an opportunity for the community to have meaningful involvement with flora and fauna, and with each other, in an accessible natural environment.
The garden has become popular with nature groups, the local aged care residents and locals just seeking a space to be active. With more and more people using the garden, there was an obvious need for a covered area. This would provide a place for community meetings and events, make it more attractive and accessible for mothers’ groups, senior groups and people with disabilities, as well as make it easier for local schools to use the garden as an educational resource.
The lengthy drought has impacted on the reserve, causing problems with salinity, and floods in 2010-11 resulted in the death of a significant number of young trees, limiting the amount of shade in the reserve.
Given the garden provides residents from the town and surrounding areas a space where they can be near the only natural water source, view a wide variety of plants that survive in drought conditions and come together in times of hardship, RGBA was awarded a $15,000 Tackling Tough Times Together grant to build the shelter, including picnic settings. They were able to leverage in-kind labour to complete the necessary earthworks and construction. In addition, Maranoa Regional Council approached RBGA offering to add signage at the main entrance to the Bush Gardens to increase awareness of the site. Members of RBGA oversaw the design and liaised with a local signwriting business for its installation.
The new shelter was launched on Good Friday during the Easter in the Country festival, as part of RGBA's annual ‘Walk on the Wildside’, event which features guided nature and bird watching walks and a pancake breakfast for the local community and visitors to Roma. Approximately 80 people from a diverse range of backgrounds attended the event, including residents and visitors to Roma. The common feedback was that similar events should be held more regularly during the year.
The shelter has resulted in more people visiting the gardens, including FRRR's Natalie Egleton and Jacki Dimond, who visited the Roma Bush Gardens last year and met with members of the RGBA.