Year in Review: Part 2

Welcome to part two of Wodonga Council's Year in Review.

Here we take a look at the milestones and achievements that made 2018 a more vibrant community and great place to live.

From the development of the city's new green space to an announcement of funding for the redevelopment of the Wodonga Library and Arts Space Wodonga, it was certainly an exciting year and one of many changes.


July - Aligned Leisure commences aquatic operations

Aligned Leisure, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of the Richmond Football Club, commenced its operation of the four Albury and Wodonga aquatic facilities in July.

“This is one of the first joint initiatives out of the Two Cities One Community partnership, so we are working very closely with Albury Council,” Cr Kat Bennett said.

“Aligned Leisure have taken over the running of these facilities and will offer some really awesome programs.

“One of the highlights is now we have got one membership for all four facilities over Wodonga and Albury, so that is fantastic news and it is certainly something our community have been saying loud and clear that they want and Aligned Leisure were able to deliver on that one.”

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack echoed Cr Bennett’s sentiments and added that the strength of all the tenders was the social benefit to the community.

“What comes with Aligned Leisure being successful is the assistance to provide young people with pathways to the future and we know that pathways through AFL football is not the only pathway for success, but it gets those young people on track to be achieving something.”

Aligned Leisure will manage the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre, Wodonga WAVES, Albury Swim Centre and Lavington Swim Centre for the next five years.


August - Work to start on Richardson Park

Works on Richardson Park were set to begin after the tenders were awarded to local contractors at the July council meeting.

The new green space fronting Elgin Boulevard is the reinstatement of the Richardson name to the city centre and is fully funded by the federal and state governments and delivered by the council.

"The development of this space will be a jewel in the crown for the city and, all going well, is due to be completed in time for the Christmas holidays," Cr John Watson said back in July.

"It will be a great asset for our city for all ages to enjoy and use."

Cr Watson acknowledged the Richardson family and their contribution to the city, droving stock from Queensland to the saleyards which were formerly on a site in the city centre which was later known as Richardson Park.

Richardson Park, which is set to join Junction Square and The Promenade as open spaces in Junction Place which have brought high visitation numbers to the railway precinct along with the food and beverage offerings.

The park will further add to the amenity where families are able to gather and enjoy and include green space, trees, seating and an interactive water feature.

A water tank and stand has been installed, reminiscent of the tanks used to fill the steam trains at the former railway site.

An interactive sculpture by Xavier Pinard, whose works feature across the region, consisting of a horse and climbing bars like a set of cow’s horns symbolising a herd of cattle has also been installed.

A reference to the Wodonga saleyards which was situated in the area, the pieces of the work entitled “Droving” will offer various climbing, tunnelling and cubby spaces for imaginary play and will complement the water play which will move through the site.

The new green space opened late December with some water play elements to be completed early this year.


September - WAVES tiling complete

More than 50,000 tiles were relaid at WAVES, Wodonga during the off-season.

The tiling was being done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and was subject to the weather, in that it couldn't be too cold or too hot.

Stringent assessments and intensive testing was undertaken as the tiles were laid and the council was cognisant that the quality of the finished product not be jeopardised at the expense of speed.

Once the tiling was complete, there was a period of curing ahead of the pool set-up procedure getting under way including filling, chlorination and heating which takes up to 20 days.

The decision to undertake the works in the off-season was to minimise the disruption to community and user groups as much as possible.

The pool officially re-opened on October 13.


Also in September - Annoucement of funding for Wodonga Library and Arts Space Wodonga

Wodonga Council welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement of funding for the redevelopment of the Wodonga Library and Arts Space Wodonga.

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford announced the $4 million in funding at The Cube Wodonga on September 26.

Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie said the state’s investment will build on the momentum of the transformation of the city centre.

“This precinct, which is the anchor of the southern end of the central business district, has more than 300,000 visitors each year,” Cr Speedie said.

“This important redevelopment will not only meet the needs of our growing community but also provide the opportunity to promote an accessible and fit-for-purpose facility that provides a program of culture, arts and history to our residents and our visitors.

“We know that arts and culture contribute to our economy as well as creating opportunities for our community to gather, interact and connect.

“Wodonga is increasingly positioned as a regional hub, providing facilities and services for local residents as well as surrounding regional towns.

“This redevelopment will see the improvement of the quality of services and community infrastructure strengthen the city’s position as a regional hub.

“The biggest user group is family households, particularly those with children and we need to ensure that there is sufficient public space, services and amenities available to the growing Wodonga population as well as the regional catchment area.

“We’ve seen our city transform and grow and this redevelopment builds on that momentum to further increase visitation, employment and expenditure in our city.”

The formal design process of the $10.2 million project is about to begin with the council set to meet with user groups in the coming weeks as part of the process.

Construction is due to begin mid-year.

The library will operate from an alternate site during the build while the gallery will explore outreach programs and alternative spaces.


Also in September - Bennetts Lane undergoes a makeover

A series of golden tail spiny ants were painted from one end of Bennetts Lane to the other in the latest laneway makeover.

Over 10 days, several painters worked alongside Chiltern-based artist Kirrily Anderson to make her concept drawing come to life.

Her mural centres around the notion of slowing down and taking notice of what is around us and features the golden tail spiny ant, which is an Australian native and can be found in the nature reserves around Wodonga.

Ms Anderson is pleased with the finished product, saying the artwork really freshens up the space.

"The gold paint really pops and the light catches it really well," she said.

"I also chose a soft natural colour palette inspired by leaf litter to bring the calm of the Australian bush into the urban landscape."

Work also included the installation of improved lighting.


October - Children's Fair

The popular and free annual Wodonga Children's Fair returned in October and was a big success.

Jam-packed with entertainment, children enjoyed kidding around with Bethany Fisher, Hannah Cryle and the Big Wheel Show, Wild Action as well as familiar favourites such as the Hay Ho Animal Nursery.

There were three stages full of performances demonstrating different cultures such as Indigenous art, Irish dancing, Aussie barbecues, Indian dancing, African drumming, plus local school and community groups.

At the Hay Ho animal nursery, children got an exciting hands-on experience with loads of animals including ducks, sheep, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, donkeys, alpacas, geese, miniature goats, and ponies.

There was also a sports bonanza on the large recreation oval with local sporting clubs representing sailing, BMX, cricket, ultimate frisbee, basketball, hockey, little athletics, plus emergency services displays.


November- BME Reunion is a hit

Up to 750 visitors took part in the Bonegilla Reunion with additional guided bus tours added to the itinerary to keep up with demand.

People travelled from throughout Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and NSW during the two day reunion at the Bonegilla Migrant Experience on Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3.

Mayor Cr Anna Speedie officially welcomed the visitors on Saturday, with Albury Mayor Cr Kevin Mack also in attendance.

There were 100 guests at the Back to Bonegilla dinner at the German Austrian Australian Club in Wodonga on Friday night, who were welcomed to Wodonga by Cr Ron Mildren and President of the GAA Club, Rose Hancock.

From historian talks to researching your family tree and author talks, there were activities for everyone.


Also in November - Wodonga Council CEO resigns

Wodonga Council CEO Patience Harrington resigned to take up the opportunity to fulfil a long-held ambition to work overseas.

Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie wished her well, reflecting on the many changes across the city during her time including the transformation of the CBD.



Also in November - Mayor elected

Cr Anna Speedie returned unopposed as Wodonga Mayor at a special council meeting.

The councillors passed a motion to elect a deputy for the first time in some years with Cr Kat Bennett securing the role.

Cr John Watson had previously moved a motion for the mayor to be elected for a two-year term which sees out the council term.

The motion was passed 4-3.

He cited the transition for a new chief executive officer and continuity in leadership as reasons behind his motion.

Cr Speedie said she was delighted to again be leading the city through such an exciting time of change.

"I'm honoured to be given this opportunity to continue to lead this council and represent our city," Cr Speedie said.

"There is still much to be done with many major projects under way or about to begin, including the recruitment of a new CEO."

"It is going to be another busy two years."

Cr Bennett was nominated by Cr Watson. Cr Quilty nominated Cr Libby Hall who also challenged for the position. Cr Bennett was elected in a 4-3 vote.

"I am really proud and excited to accept this role on behalf of my fellow councillors," Cr Bennett said.

"In the past two years I have represented council at events, meetings and with community as much as I can given the constraints of having another job.

"I'm committed to undertaking this role in an open and collaborative manner."


December - Adoption of Gateway Island master plan

Wodonga Council adopted the Gateway Island master plan at its December meeting following a year long process.

Almost 400 submissions and comments were received to inform the comprehensive master plan which set a blueprint for the development, enhancement and protection of the site.

The overwhelming response from the community was to further enhance this natural amenity to draw visitation to the island and showcase the history and natural beauty.

Gateway Island sits on the northern side of Wodonga’s urban area and the Hume Freeway with the Sydney-Melbourne railway line running through the southern portion of the site and the Lincoln Causeway the major thoroughfare between the two cities.

The island is formed by the Wodonga Creek diverging from the Murray River and the creek forms the southern and western boundaries of the island.

In adopting the master plan, the councillors said they were keen to see the actions implemented from what was an exciting document.

The master plan is supported by a priority setting table to inform capital investment and funding opportunities.

Gateway Island was the subject of two previous master planning projects in 1997 and 2002.

The 2018 master plan will be reviewed every two years and reported to the council.