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
But 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).
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.
The 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.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA ENTRANTS
Balnarring Community Sustainability Fair
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.
Mornington Peninsula Shire
Western Port (Hastings) Community Volunteers
Western Port Chamber of Commerce Inc. and partners
“Transferred Crib Point Community”
Protection of the Environment
Mornington Peninsula Shire; Manton and Stony Creek Landcare Group
Resource Recovery and Waste Management
Tidy Town of the Year
* Finalist details supplied by Keep Victoria Beautiful
** This entry yet to be confirmed with KVB