Community stories Disaster recovery stories eNews: 16 August 2022
The Rathdowney Memorial Grounds Association (RMGA) was established in 1947 to manage the Rathdowney Memorial Grounds and to organise an annual campdraft in honour of the young men in the district who lost their lives during the war.
Today, the Memorial Grounds and Caravan Park are managed by a small committee of local people, and the venue is used for a range of sport and community activities, including soccer, pony clubs, campdrafting, markets and camping. It also serves as a central place to coordinate the community response to natural disasters and emergencies, and was used by residents displaced in the 2019 Black Summer bushfires.
The annual campdraft is popular with locals and visitors alike, and central to the town’s identity and prosperity. It attracts around 1,000 visitors who come for the weekend and spend at the grounds and at local shops, making a vital contribution to the local economy. In 2020, the campdraft was cancelled due to COVID and the whole community suffered financially and socially.
The open-air equestrian arena at the Rathdowney Memorial Grounds was inundated by heavy rain in March 2021 and the arena surface was so badly damaged that the annual campdraft had to be postponed. Plans to refurbish the sand in the arena were delayed because the flood-damaged surface needed to be re-levelled, compacted and protected with crusher dust before new sand was added.
RMGA received a $15,000 Rebuilding Futures grant funded by Suncorp Group that allowed them to repair the equestrian arena, and to mitigate the impacts of future flood events on the Rathdowney Memorial Grounds.
President of RMGA Andrew Buchanan said that during the project delivery phase, the region continued to experience unprecedented rain, which held up the work. However this actually proved to be invaluable because the work that was being done was tested and could be improved straightaway.
“The arena is now safe to use regardless of the weather (exceptional circumstances not included), which allows the community to be able to plan and feel sure that our events will be able to go on regardless. The entire community is so grateful to be able to utilise the arena. This has had a huge impact towards the connectedness within our area.”