Mayoral blog

We regularly feature a blog by a different Mayor on how their council is making a positive difference for their community.

Gannawarra Shire Council – Growing the Gannawarra now and into the future – Mayor Charlie Gillingham

Cr Charlie GillinghamLocated in northwestern Victoria, the Gannawarra boasts a diverse regional economy thanks to its proximity to the eastern section of the Mallee and significant natural assets, such as red gum forest and waterways.

Located three hours’ drive from Melbourne, the Gannawarra is in a process of diversifying its economy, resulting in notable achievements. These include the municipality being home to the largest integrated solar and battery storage facility in Australia, Australia’s first commercially produced organic tomato crop and Victoria’s first commercially produced cotton crop.

With a population of 10,549 and a median age of 49, Councils is playing a major role in growing the Gannawarra, supporting residents of all ages and abilities - highlighted by Council being the only small rural municipality in Victoria to be a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.

In late 2018 Council started the process to be registered with the National Disability Insurance Agency to become an approved NDIS provider, with our staff rolling out services from 1 January 2019.

This decision has supported not just our valuable NDIS clients, who receive 623 hours of support each week, but the staff who make up the 80-person Community Care team. The support these dedicated workers provide not just make the Gannawarra a great place to live for our NDIS clients, but also provide employment opportunities – thus having a flow-on benefit to local businesses.

This theme of supporting all residents has been incorporated into our infrastructure planning, with the Gannawarra’s three major towns to feature all abilities playspaces by the end of 2022.

The first of these facilities, located in the Murray River town of Koondrook, will be open to the public by the end of June 2020, with construction of an all abilities adventure playspace at Cohuna, adjacent to the picturesque Gunbower Creek, to begin in the second half of 2020. A third playspace, to be located in Kerang, is in the planning stage and when completed will complement community facilities at the popular Atkinson Park precinct.

Cohuna Waterfront

These three projects are some of the highly anticipated capital works occurring throughout the Gannawarra, highlighted by the recent completion of Cohuna Beach.

Located on the banks of Gunbower Creek, this area opened to the public in November 2019 and has become a popular place for families to relax creekside during summer.

Cohuna Beach is one of many projects completed or currently underway that aim to attract tourists to the Gannawarra, building on our proximity to the Murray River, Gunbower Forest and Ramsar-listed waterways.

Examples include the international award-winning Koondrook Wharf, improvements to Kangaroo Lake and the recently opened Koondrook Retreat – the Gannawarra’s own nature-based tourism hub where visitors can “glamp” in the forest a few minutes’ walk from Koondrook.

These initiatives are playing a role in growing the Gannawarra for current and future residents. When you are in northwestern Victoria next, why not divert through the Gannawarra and experience the area’s beauty and inclusivity for yourself.

Previous blogs

Cr Cheryl McKinnonLoddon Shire CouncilJune 2020
Cr Anita Rank Glenelg Shire Council September 2019
Cr Bill Bennett Whitehorse City Council August 2019
Cr Kim O'Keefe Greater Shepparton City Council March 2019
Cr Georgina Oxley Kingston City Council November 2018
Cr Narelle Sharp Moonee Valley City Council November 2018
Cr Margaret Guidice Brimbank City Council August 2018
Cr Graham Massey Yarriambiack Shire Council July 2018
Cr Sally Capp City of Melbourne June 2018