Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The town of Dirranbandi, in southwest QLD, was suffering from a lack of Christmas cheer and the general community spirit was a bit flat, following relentless drought over many years. This was also having significant impacts on mental health.

In a bid to tackle these issues, while also putting Dirranbandi on the map for both tourists and locals, the Dirranbandi Progress Association used a $60,000 Tackling Tough Times Together grant, funded by the Australian Government to spark some joy in the township with a stunning lights installation.

With the support of Balonne Shire Council, the Dirranbandi Progress Association brought local tradespeople on board, as well as their local Arts Council, the business community and a work camp, which consisted of skilled prisoners who were being reintegrated back into society. Together, this dedicated team of people designed and fabricated a  beautiful display of fairy lights that were installed and displayed throughout the main streets of their town all year round.

Alongside the permanent display, the grant funded Christmas lights, which is the main feature of an annual event attended by around 300 people. Locals from the around the community gather for a BBQ and watch the Christmas lights being turned on, while school children sing carols and everyone embraces the magic of Christmas.

Since having the lights installed and hosting these events, the local community, which was crippled by drought, has been able to congregate, reconnect and have its vibrant spirit reignited. As an added benefit, the local council committed to providing extra support and resources, not only for Dirranbandi, but for surrounding towns as a result of the project.