We regularly feature a blog by a different Mayor on how their council is making a positive difference for their community.
Loddon Shire – A Community of Communities – Mayor Cr Cheryl McKinnon
Small in population, large in area and big in heart –these are what make the Loddon Shire an attractive and unique place to live and work. We acknowledge our character as a community of communities and focus our vision on developing these well-serviced localities within the broader Shire context, including the towns of Boort, Bridgewater on Loddon, Inglewood, Pyramid Hill and Wedderburn.
The Loddon Shire is located approximately 200km north of Melbourne, in northern Victoria and centred on the Loddon Valley. It is the seventh largest municipality (by area) in Victoria: covering 6,700 square kilometres that are characterised by rolling hills and box-ironbark forests, granite outcrops, premium agricultural land and the Loddon River.
Loddon is an attractive investment proposition for both intensive farming and rural living because of its affordable land. It is an ideal region to support the variety of agricultural industries in our Shire – which include dairy, horticulture, viticulture, cropping, lamb, beef, poultry and piggeries. We have just over 7,500 residents with a median age of 51 years. A little over 20% of our residents were born overseas and this number has steadily increased since 2001.
Pyramid Hill is an example of how a declining small town with an aging population has been transformed in just over ten years by skilled migration. In 2008 a local piggery recruited workers from the Philippines and now over 100 Filipinos call the town home; boosting the primary school, filling crucial roles in the emergency services and even hosting a vibrant cultural festival.
Throughout 2019, Council is proactively developing a Youth Strategy and gaining feedback from the youth demographic of Loddon Shire to determine how to best provide for the needs of our young people. With a nationwide trend of youth outmigration from rural areas, it is essential that we strengthen our communities by engaging our youths in meaningful discussions about what is important to them.
The Loddon Shire has a strong sense of self-reliance and community spirit. This is reflected in the rate of volunteerism which is around 32%, with many of the population taking multiple roles in various organisations. This year we have adopted our Volunteer Strategy which will be a guide to support our volunteers into the future.
We look towards the future both inside and outside of our borders to support our community. Our focus on relationships with our strategic partners has seen a number of significant projects delivered and announced in recent times – including the Federal Regional Growth Fund for the Our Region Our Rivers joint infrastructure project and the Mitiamo pipeline.
Water security is a major factor in the future sustainability of agriculture in Loddon, whether it is broadacre dryland agriculture, intensive stock production or irrigated horticulture. Drought-proofing the Shire is a step nearer with major new stock and domestic pipeline infrastructure, as well as technologies to improve the effective use of water and enlightened farm practices.
Loddon Shire, as part of the Murray River Group of Councils comprising six councils from northern Victoria, is involved in advocating for the irrigation communities within the region. The Group seeks to ensure that the Murray-Darling Basin is managed well and that the Basin Plan works for all water users protecting our environmental assets and supporting our communities. The East Loddon Irrigation System was upgraded several years ago and the South West Loddon pipeline is nearing completion and will deliver water to even more households, farms and community facilities. Government funds have been allocated to a third pipeline system, the Mitiamo pipeline project, to build a stock and domestic supply network for 180 properties and 87 rural homes.
This investment is critical to the ongoing development and vibrancy of our community. We are committed to supporting the growth in our region as we look to future opportunities in the tourism and agribusiness sectors including olives, vines, grains and livestock industries. Central to this is our protection of the Shire’s natural and built environments.
Our unique environment and landscape offer many natural attractions – including the Loddon River, Terrick Terrick National Park, Leaghure State Park, Kooyoora State Park, Lake Boort, Major Mitchell Trail, Mount Korong, Melville Caves, Laanecoorie Reservoir as well as a rich gold mining history, Aboriginal cultural heritage and charming historic villages.
Our annual Naturally Loddon Spring Festival showcases the region with a range of family-oriented outdoor activities celebrating the history, art and natural wonders in a way that appeals to locals and visitors alike. The finale of the festival transforms the town of Inglewood into a vibrant space filled with gourmet food, live entertainment, market stalls and custom cars.
As a smaller rural council with limited resources, we continue to deliver new and innovative projects for the benefit of our region by looking outside of our borders to the challenges facing rural Victoria.
We believe our role in the region is vital and that we can improve our economy and quality of life without losing any of Loddon’s distinctive characteristics. We continue to enhance the liveability and sustainability of Loddon Shire by developing a prosperous, vibrant and engaged community. Through sound decision-making and customer-focused management, we believe the Loddon Shire is well-placed for further investment, development and expansion into the future.
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|Cr Sally Capp||City of Melbourne||June 2018|