At the moment, a parcel of land across from Girgarre’s town hall sits empty behind a barbed wire fence, save for a few patches of overgrown grass. But in two short decades, with any luck, a flourishing botanic gardens will create a landmark space for visitors and locals, breathing life, energy and business into the town 30 minutes west of Shepparton, on that very same parcel of land. It will be called ‘Gargarro’. A network of canals, picnic spots, an ephemeral river bed and a ‘‘five senses’’ garden, complete with ‘look’, ‘listen’, ‘smell’, ‘see’ and ‘taste’ areas, will be woven across the site.
Girgarre this year secured a $350 000 Victorian Government Small Town Transformation grant — and that, combined with community matching and additional support, will offer the project committee almost $850 000 worth of value. It is from this funding that one of Gargarro’s first creations will emerge — a soundshell amphitheatre designed for music gigs, dance recitals, opera performances . . . you name it.
On September 20, Girgarre will launch its Gargarro business case and hold a tree-planting day, when the first seeds for an eastern perimeter tree line — and the ambitious project more broadly — will be laid. Project convener (pictured here) Athol McDonald said the grant funding allowed the committee ‘‘to really kick-start things’’. He estimated the construction of the soundshell could begin by the middle of next year and would require some further fundraising to finish.
Part of the grant was for composer Graeme Leak and laser guru Robin Fox to create unique audio-visual projects in the community during an 18-month period. Mr McDonald said the biggest worry was that the events might attract up to 10 000 people to the town. The project convener said the committee had only been planning as far as the end of the transformations project. ‘‘The whole town will be really busy for two years,’’ he said.
The following stage of serious planning is a detailed design of the northern section of the gardens and development of a central spine through the middle.‘‘I guess the first step would be to attract enough visitors to sustain a small business in the town,’’ Mr McDonald said of his hope for Girgarre.
‘‘We reckon we could do better than that. ‘‘Then who knows . . . if it really takes off, people could be attracted to come and live in the town.’’ He said excitement in the town was noticeable in response to the project. If anything, there was a desire for it to be moving along faster. ‘‘Certainly the community sees it as a legacy project,’’ Mr McDonald said. ‘‘We’re sure that if it’s successful, it will change Girgarre forever.’’
Original Article: Shepparton News by Thomas Moir.