From left - Habitat for Humanity Gympie chapter representatives Inge Schilling and Kim McDonaled discuss new ideas with Bob Whitlock, Graeme Elphinstone and Glenda Pickersgill.
From left - Habitat for Humanity Gympie chapter representatives Inge Schilling and Kim McDonaled discuss new ideas with Bob Whitlock, Graeme Elphinstone and Glenda Pickersgill.

Valley focus on future

GOOD news stories of the Mary Valley were celebrated at the community forum at Kandanga Bowls Club this week, when more than 20 project leaders outlined developments in their focus areas.

A proposal to build affordable housing on Government-resumed land, the scoping of an arts and culture trail in the hinterland and the development of themed tourism in each of the villages were among new projects floated in the discussion.

The gathering was a six-monthly review of the much-vaunted Mary Valley Community and Economic Action Plan researched and compiled by the Mary Valley Renewal Team.

As well, new projects were raised and will be fed into the plan, which will be updated and uploaded to the website

Habitat for Humanity representatives announced their wish to build affordable housing on former QWI land in the valley and the concern about housing was echoed by the think tank group discussing ways to develop affordable, equitable and sustainable housing.

Cr Jan Watt said the Creative Regions body would assist in the development of a hinterland arts and cultural trail project, and the Bella Residents Action Group announced their campaign against the development of a motorised sport recreational facility in the valley.

Facilitator Graeme Elphinstone told the audience that the projects showed there was much happening in the valley over a short time period and the community was “moving forward”.

It highlighted the need for more people to make themselves aware of projects and become involved, renewal spokesperson Glenda Pickersgill said.

She acknowledged that many other projects were being implemented across the valley and were not identified in the plan, which had a renewal focus.

A raft of speakers highlighted projects including:

Agritourism project: 20 participants will graduate this month from the three-month workshop-based project to develop the agritourism product in the valley;

Food strategy: Following on from the agritourism project, a food strategy is being developed for the Mary catchment to make local food accessible to locals through improved retail processes and the development of legitimate growers’ markets;

Slow Food: A Kenilworth group is about to kick off alongside Slow Food Mary Valley, which is planning to re-launch the Dagun Growers’ Market next year and implement accredited horticultural courses for valley growers;

Mary Valley Country: The marketing campaign to promote “Mary Valley Country – come out to play” is gaining credence and fact sheets identifying where and how to “play” in the valley will be produced as a follow on from the billboard campaign;

Kandanga RV Park: Signage is about to be installed but visitors are already using the new RV Park at Kandanga which is sited across the road from the local pool, and this is creating a flow-on effect to businesses;

Recreational and education future planning strategy: The co-ordination of recreational activities and developments is paramount to efficiently promote the Mary Valley, and this is being pulled together at a high level by local industry representatives;

Environment and community centre: Gympie Regional Council has backed the proposal to seek Government support for the use of Garapine outdoor education centre for development as a recreational, educational facility which will also showcase the environmental diversity of the region;

Recovery of the Mary River: Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee is involved in high level talks with both Federal and State bodies to develop a recovery plan for the river and fund its implementation;

Kandanga sporting precinct: Kandanga Bowls Club continues to make improvements to its facilities as it begins a fundraising drive to move the club from the flood plain to the “top of the hill” next to the tennis club;

River museum and education centre: The new centre at Kandanga is attracting increasing numbers of visitors including schools and bus tours;

Sport and recreation co-ordinator: Mary Valley Inc has applied to the State Sport and Recreation Department to employ a coordinator to assist local clubs for 30 months in the valley;

Well-being centre: Funding options are being considered to set up a community and wellbeing centre in the valley;

Agriculture in schools: Mary Valley State College at Imbil is working closely with DPI to embed agriculture in its curriculum;

Mary River Festival: Now relocated at Kandanga for the event this year on November 17, the festival continues to grow as a celebration of the river, its unique species, and the community it supports;

Riverside arts trails and String of Pearls proposal: Through RADF funding, Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee is employing Maree Prior to investigate the feasibility of a tourist trail of art and relevant sites from the source to the mouth of the Mary River.

For full details, visit or contact Glenda Pickersgill on 0411 443589.

Gympie Times

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