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A new building for Graytown at last

Is this the first new public building built in the settlement since the Gold Rush?

CHALPAT SONTI May 29, 2014 3:52am

Graytown Community Action Group members Les Morante, Amanda McClaren, Liz Fuller, Rondaa Stevenson, chairman Graham Sims and Ari Apostolopous celebrate the opening of the new community centre (in the background).


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It was, as one resident said, something to finally put Graytown ‘‘on the map’’.

And not before time.

The small community isn’t known for its new buildings, but an important one was opened on Saturday with the unveiling of a community centre.

Sited opposite the entrance to the Defence-run Proof and Experimental Establishment on Graytown-South Costerfield Rd, the centre has been a few years in the making.

It could well be the first new public building in the area since the gold rush days.

Former chairwoman of the Graytown Community Action Group Amanda McClaren takes up the story.

‘‘It was 2010 when we first started the process,’’ she said.

‘‘We had a meeting, brought the community together and asked what do we want as a community. This was the answer.’’

That was largely because the closest public hall was 15km away in Costerfield.

There were a few hitches though.

The main one was finding a site.

Most of the public land around Graytown is tied up in Parks Victoria management.

There were two Department of Sustainability and the Environment blocks that were possibilities.

One, near Nagambie-Heathcote Rd, seemed ideal.

‘‘The (P and EE) said it was fine but then the Major there pulled out a big map and said there might be a problem,’’ Mrs McClaren said.

‘‘He said ‘you’re in the blast zone if a bomb goes off’. That wasn’t too good so we went to this site and it is absolutely ideal.

‘‘(P and EE) are here 24 hours, there’s lights always on and security guards are there all the time.’’

The process was helped along the way by the Strathbogie Shire Council, but really it was a good-old community spirit that got the centre built, with most of the work done by volunteers.

And that was acknowledged by others at the opening, including Strathbogie deputy mayor Colleen Furlanetto.

‘‘With your tenacity and commitment you stuck in there as Aussies do to get it done,’’ she said.

Mrs McClaren also paid tribute to Bob Bell, a local ex-serviceman who was instrumental in getting the flagpole for the centre, through a Department of Veterans Affairs grant.

The flagpole was the scene not just of a flag-raising ceremony but an interesting history of Australian flags by Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone, who also praised the community spirit.

And now the building is up, the community expects it to be well used.

Anzac Day and New Year’s Eve are just two of many events that would be ideal.

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