Welcome to Horsham Rural City (pop. nearly 20,000), a pleasant Victorian country centre on the banks of the Wimmera River, brimming with and surrounded by culture and tourist attractions (the city, not the river) about three hours’ drive west of Melbourne on the highway to Adelaide.

Or, if you prefer, a leisurely half-day via the Sorrento ferry through Geelong, with a stop in Ballarat or Stawell for brunch or lunch. That’s the Grampians, on your left as you approach Horsham. Among the slopes is Mt Arapiles, a premier Australian rock climbing spot. Think about dropping in among these spectacular hills on your way home 

horsham-map-unlockedBut your main purpose in heading for Horsham will be for the Victorian Tidy Towns awards, in which the Mornington Peninsula has three finalists – Crib Point, Hastings and Mornington. On 15 October, a ceremony will be held to name the state’s Tidiest Town, along with numerous other awards conducted by the Keep Victoria Beautiful organisation.

The Mornington Peninsula is, as always, well represented in the KVB competitions, from “Active Schools” (Balnarring Community Sustainability Fair) to “Environmental Sustainability” (Western Port Chamber of Commerce Inc. and partners).

horsham-giant-koala-newFor reasons of tourism, a Tidy Town gong can be handy publicity. Mornington was Tidy Town in 2012, although this is not recorded on the shire website. Nor is Hastings’ win in 2004. Tut tut!

The peninsula takes the award very seriously – it was represented at last year’s presentations in Beechworth, north-east Victoria, by two councillors, Bev Colomb and Antonella Celi. Beechworth is a very pleasant place – an ideal spot for a family holiday or even just a short break.

But, back to Horsham which, coincidentally, was the Tidiest Town in all of Australia in 2001. While the award event is just a week before the council elections (on 22 October), Bandicoot is confident that a councillor or two will be there – perhaps one from Briars ward (for Mornington’s Tidy Town entry) and Cr David Garnock, whose Cerberus ward is studded with possibles, besides Crib Point and Hastings as Tidy Town aspirants. See list below.

A few facts. The local government area of Horsham covers 4249 square km, including the towns of Brimpaen, Dadswells Bridge, Dooen, Haven, Laharum, Natimuk, Noradjuha and Pimpinio. And, of course, Horsham. The area is in sheep and wheat country, fringing the vast plains of the Wimmera and southern Mallee.

Horsham’s river, the Wimmera, has the distinction of being the largest land-locked river in the world, eventually disappearing into terminal lakes and dunes.

Most of the people in the municipality reside in Horsham and are sustained by a thriving arts culture. The city hosts six major arts festivals, including a country music festival, the Spring Garden Festival in the historic botanical gardens and the biennial spectacular Natimuk Frinj Festival.

horsham-celi-colombThe city has plenty of choice for those seeking accommodation, including family-friendly places such as the spacious Comfort Inn, close to the town centre and other attractions – including the river that goes nowhere! 

ABOVE Beechworth, 2015: Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors Antonella Celi (second from left) and Bev Colomb (on her left) with awards at the Tidy Towns presentation ceremony.



Active Schools

Balnarring Community Sustainability Fair

Clean Beach/Waterway


Community Action Leadership (population 3,000 and below)

Amanda Lucy-St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Crib Point

Community Action Leadership (population above 3,000)

Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group Mt Martha, Michael Leeworthy and local primary schools.

Mornington Community Information & Support Centre Inc.

Rosebud Chamber of Commerce

Community Government Partnerships

Community Kinders Plus, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Mornington Park Preschool, Kid’s Own Publishing

Hastings Respectful Relationships Group

Mornington Peninsula Shire and Mount Eliza Rotary Club

Mornington Peninsula Shire; Mount Eliza Secondary College (Intermediate VCAL Group); Mount Eliza Chamber of Commerce; Advance Community College; Mount Eliza Rotary Club; Mornington Men’s Shed; Mount Eliza Lions Club

Mornington Peninsula Shire and Mt Eliza Placemaking Group.

Cultural Heritage

Mornington Peninsula Shire

Western Port (Hastings) Community Volunteers

Environmental Sustainability

Western Port Chamber of Commerce Inc. and partners

Litter Prevention

Transferred Crib Point Community”

Protection of the Environment

Mornington Peninsula Shire; Manton and Stony Creek Landcare Group

Resource Recovery and Waste Management


Young Leaders


Tidy Town of the Year

Crib Point



* Finalist details supplied by Keep Victoria Beautiful

** This entry yet to be confirmed with KVB