Strathbogie Shire Council

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Longwood's plan for bright future

Longwood Action Group (LAG) is looking to the future in a big way.

“We are small in size, but we are big in stature,” LAG president Will Dwyer said of the community.

“Our future is looking bright.”   

From an interactive sculpture park, a short-stay free-camping destination, and modern facilities in its public spaces – LAG is spearheading an exciting 20-year vision for the rural township.

The 2016 Census recorded 240 people in Longwood. Impressively, of the yet-to-be announced 2021 population, there are 30 locals in the town’s community action group, including “a lot of youth”.

“We have been trying to get younger people involved as a way of succession planning; we want Longwood to be for them and their kids,” Mr Dwyer said.

“We want somewhere nice for kids to grow up, and their kids to grow up.”

LAG and local artists are also planning a sculpture park, which will embed Longwood as a rural tourism destination.

“The artists are keen for this to happen as soon as possible: the sculpture project is part of a much broader picture for Longwood,” Mr Dwyer said.

Pitch my project

Thanks to $20,000 funding from Strathbogie Shire Council’s 2021-22 Budget, Longwood’s volunteer groups are creating a shared 20-year master plan through engagement of an independent planning expert.

In partnership with Longwood Community Centre Committee of Management, LAG requested support for the master plan through Council’s Pitch My Project initiative earlier this year.

The master plan will provide a vision and framework for how Longwood can grow and develop, with emphasis on the Longwood Community Centre, Recreation Reserve and Longwood Pub Paddock.

“We don’t want our facilities to become dilapidated and outdated,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Our community is really looking forward to having a clear, concise plan for our public spaces.”

The Pitch My Project application requested support to engage an independent consultant for “a document that is shovel ready for grant applications” − a cohesive plan that considers the community’s health and wellbeing, natural and built environment, economic development, and inclusiveness.

“We want a streamlined vision for the entire community of Longwood and its clubs,” Mr Dwyer said.

“For such a tiny town, we get amazing events such as our beer, wine and cider festival; and top-class sporting teams, for instance, an VFL team trained here last year.

Succession in community action

Mr Dwyer said LAG was proud of other recent initiatives, including:

  • community pressure which helped stop superloads travelling through the township;
  • beautification projects;
  • transforming the old fire shed with a mural and active community space; and
  • re-opening a functional space for short-stay free camping, with the inclusion of fire drums, at the Recreation Reserve.

Meanwhile, the boost in young membership already promised succession in community action, with first-year tertiary student, Liza Hearmon, initiating and organising her hometown’s 2021 ANZAC Day parade.

Mr Dwyer said about 50 people participated in the march − the first in recent memory − from the primary school to the Boer War Memorial for Longwood’s annual ANZAC Day service.

Sculpture excitement

In a year challenged by COVID-19 restrictions, the community had reason to smile in August at local creativity − and now, the ideas brewing for a sculpture park to attract rural tourism.

In August, Steve Tobin of Heavy Metal Art (who is also LAG’s vice president), and Tank from Tank Art in Shepparton displayed a 2.8m cockatoo and sunflowers opposite the White Hart Hotel in Longwood for residents to enjoy before its delivery to NSW.

With the cocky’s creators, other local artists and LAG currently developing ideas for a Longwood sculpture park, Mr Dwyer said the community had many reasons to be excited about the town’s future.

For more information about Longwood Action Group, phone Will Dwyer on 0450 790 361.

WillDwyer

 

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