Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Drake is a small town in the shire of Tenterfield, located on the border of NSW and QLD. With one pub, one shop, one community centre and most properties coming in at around 100 acres, there is little opportunity for interaction and entertainment between community members. There was an interest among residents in learning more about permaculture, particularly as the land can be quite unforgiving when trying to grow food and plants. 

The Granite Border Landcare Committee (GBLC) saw an opportunity to teach the community new skills, create new shared community resources and foster connections and relationships between neighbours through the creation of a six-part permaculture workshop series.

With a $4,000 Small Grant, funded by The Yulgilbar Foundation, the GBLC was able to create and deliver this workshop series over a six month period.

Amanda Craig, who managed the program, said the project established a strong, energetic, community focused group with a core membership of 10 people.

“While the overall aim was to establish a permaculture group, which it has done, the community benefits are greater than that.”

“The group members and other interested people that attended workshops have established strong ties within the small isolated community and are now branching out to include other activities as the recent garden make over at the community resource center,” Amanda said.

The workshops included Build a Chook Pen, Build a Raised Garden Bed in a Mandala Circle Garden, Learn to Build Compost Bays, Building Swale’s Workshop, Propagating Vegetable Seedlings, Build a Wicking Bed and How to Build a Greenhouse. The six-month series helped to build community connectedness, improve local community infrastructure, and develop a volunteer community group.

Since completing the series, this group has continued to hold workshops and is working on beautifying the garden around the local community centre.

The Sunset Strip Village is located on Menindee Lakes in NSW and has experienced severe drought cycles for the past seven years. Without a water supply for the Community Centre Precinct lawns, Landcare Nursery and land restoration sites, the areas turned brown and undesirable.

The psychological and economic impact of the long-lasting drought has led to painful shortfalls for the community, including the tragic death of a much-loved local volunteer. In addition, at least 28 families in the agricultural industry have abandoned the area, with weekend residents quick to follow suit. The result was a drying and demoralised Sunset Strip, with a third of its houses up for sale.

The Sunset Strip Progress Association Inc (SSPAI) is a locally run not-for-profit, co-managing everything from the local pub to the post office. This resilient group of volunteers have tackled drought-related challenges in the community since 2012, and they were not about to give up their sunny strip. SSPAI knew what their village needed in order to not only survive, but grow and thrive as a small rural community – and they were willing to put in the work to make it happen.

The idea was simple: make the area green and prosperity will follow. The project has well-received by the community as it they all wanted to see the Community Centre Precinct flourish, a restoration of Landcare plantations, and an increase in lifestyle, liveability and house sales with new residents.

Thanks to a $19,070 Tackling Tough Times Together grant funded by the Australian Government, the Sunset Strip Progress Association purchased a submersible pump, a 1,000-watt solar panel, a water controller, a pressure solar pump and 3,300-gallon water tank to a create a permanent groundwater source for the 6,000 sqm flourishing community lawn around the Community Centre Precinct.

Since this much-needed investment, the benefits in the whole village have been obvious. The Sunset Strip Village has welcomed three new families and seen an overall renewed positive atmosphere in the community. The Landcare Nursery Team are growing seedlings that will ensure future growth and thriving greenery – making the Village a desirable destination to work and live again.