Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

When Steven Noble lost his life in a road crash at Mt Gambier on Easter Sunday in 2013, aged 27, it devastated the Limestone Coast community and stripped his wife, Courtney of their future together. In the lead up to the fifth anniversary of his passing, Courtney and a team of passionate mates have brought a vision to reality, with the delivery of a community bus in honour of Steven and all that he stood for.

Steven was a well-respected member of the Port MacDonnell and Allendale East community, growing up on a family Dairy Farm in Allendale East and attending Allendale East Area School during his schooling years. Small communities create close relationships, and Steven is remembered in the Port MacDonnell and Allendale East community as a friendly, outgoing, loyal and caring person who always put others before himself and had a smile that would light up the room. A talented sportsman, Steven was a successful senior footballer with the Port MacDonnell Football club. Sadly missing out on his 150th game by only two games, Steven played football for the Port MacDonnell Football Club from junior level right through to being the Premiership Captain of the PMFC team in 2012. Steven’s father Chris was well also respected in the Kongorong community, playing for the Kongorong Football Club for many years.

The Steven Noble Memorial Sub Fund was established in Steven’s memory by a group of three friends who participated in Swinging with the Stars in 2013 and wanted to do something in his honour. With Courtney’s consent and support, Simon Livingston, Tahlia Gabrielli and Amy Trevilyn established a Sub Fund to honour Steven’s memory, with the aim of supporting the local communities of Port MacDonnell, Allendale East and Kongorong. The Sub Fund represented what Steven was as a person, someone who was always willing to give everything he had to assist and support other people.

“When Steve passed, I thought we had to do something that not only remembered him but also helped those who were struggling with his loss.  I was really drawn to how Stand Like Stone had set up their trust funds and realised that we didn’t have one for our area.  Courtney was behind Tahlia, Amy and myself from day one, which really got us going with our fundraising.  To actually see Courtney’s vision come to fruition is amazing,” said Simon Livingstone, who initiated the Steven Noble Memorial Sub Fund.

The vision became a reality in 2018, with the delivery of a community bus to service the extended communities of Port MacDonnell, Allendale and Kongorong, for the charitable purposes of education, awareness and accessibility for rural and regional communities. Although outside of Stand Like Stone’s normal operations, the Board agreed to this unique outcome and supported the wishes of those involved to enable the capital raised to be applied for this purpose. The project was supported through the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal who allowed the funds to be flowed out of the Stand Like Stone Public Fund to assist with the purchase of the community bus.

The community bus will be housed at the Allendale East Area School and will be available for community use for charitable purposes as identified. The bus will be managed under the governance of the School Governing Council and a community bus management committee. The community bus is dedicated to the memory of Steven John Noble (8/12/1985 – 1/4/2013). The purchase of the bus was enabled by Courtney Fox, Simon Livingston, Tahlia Gabrielli, Amy Trevilyan, Alisha Stephens, David Fox and Grant Fensom and supported by Noel Barr Toyota.

For centuries, red gums have dotted the landscape in south-west Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. A few community members from the small town of Cavendish in south-west Victoria understand the importance of these trees to the local natural environment. But they wanted to share their passion more widely and put the spotlight on these fantastic trees.

A creative approach

In 2017, this small group set up the Red Gum Festival Development Group Incorporated (RGFDG). One of their first projects was an arts festival, designed to explore and celebrate all aspects of the red gum species and hopefully, increase community understanding and willingness to protect the local environment. They also hoped that it would help to attract more tourists who already come to see the famous trees, and in turn support the local economy.

Red Gum Festival, Cavendish – photo by Julie Millowick

A $3,410 grant from FRRR was the initial funding for the inaugural Cavendish Red Gum Festival.

A committee of 12 and a team of 57 volunteers launched the inaugural Festival in April 2018. They worked hard to establish strong relationships with numerous local groups, including the Cavendish Recreation Reserve Committee, primary school, Lions Club and Men’s Shed, to ensure the project had extensive support.

To spread the word and build momentum in the lead up to the Festival, the RGFDG hosted sculpture, photography and writing competitions, with winners announced during the Festival. On the day, there was a wide range of activities, including markets, food stalls, exhibitions of wood-turning and musical performances.

Other core elements of the Festival were the science-based exhibits and a symposium featuring experts in forestry, conservation and tree science, and a bus tour of notable tree specimens and new plantations. These contributed to a document that is being shared with local Landcare groups, farmers and other interested parties to help preserve the trees. There is also a plan to generate a map of red gums, as a way of monitoring their size and health.

Sustainable solution

A second festival is planned for 2020, and it’s hoped it will become a regular community celebration. The growth of this arts festival has the potential to build community pride, attract tourists and significantly contribute to the local economy. Plus, by raising awareness of the importance of the trees and knowledge of their needs, the community, including landowners, will be better positioned to care for and protect them.

Art drew the crowd, and data and awareness will preserve the red gums. The Red Gum Festival was chosen to participate in the Art Resides Here project as the community is using the appeal of arts and cultural activities to raise awareness about the local environment.

They will tell their story at Artlands Victoria in Castlemaine and Bendigo in October 2018.