By Anne Stelling, Parklands Albury Wodonga
Ever since the Albury Wodonga Corporation gifted environmental lands to the community in the 1990’s, local people have demonstrated the value of that gift.
Individuals young and old, University and TAFE students seeking to apply their knowledge, school classes from pre-school to U3A, local businesses large and small and community groups of all persuasions have formed a rich network of connection with those bush parks – a network that both supports and is supported by them.
A good example is Wodonga Men’s Shed, whose volunteers collaborate with Parklands Albury Wodonga to design and fabricate park infrastructure of all sorts, from glider nest boxes to sculptures, bench seats and picnic tables. The Men’s shed volunteers apply their time, knowledge, energy and extensive skills to Parklands practical park-related conundrums, at the same time enjoying each other’s company and enriching their collective social, mental and physical health.
The Men’s Shed have been busy this year fabricating over 300 handrail uprights or stanchions – cutting, welding, grinding, drilling and painting, as part of Parklands ‘Connecting Seniors through delivery of Wodonga Regional Park Infrastructure’ project.
These stanchions provide the framework of handrails on four railway bridges across Gateway Island in the coming months. The accomplished team at the Shed have expertly designed, fabricated and completed this large-scale project, and are justly proud of their contribution to this project.
Funding programs currently targeted to community led initiatives have provided the means for Parklands to employ a number of highly skilled past volunteers to install the metal stanchions. The completion of the Flanagan’s Creek bridge handrails in late April – with the final touches applied by the Wodonga Working for Victoria crew – marked a significant milestone in the project, another step towards opening these bridges to pedestrian traffic.
The bridges will eventually link a high level, accessible walking and bike trail through the Gateway Island Regional Park.
The project received joint funding from the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments. It has also been supported locally with in kind contributions, sponsorship and considerable expertise from Abolcon Steel, Barro Group and Excel Gray Brunnei.
The story is thus of much, much more than a contracted infrastructure project. It is of local people who can take a small amount of funds into that amazing web of community support and spin it into something that benefits many individuals along the way, ultimately serving the whole community.