From our manager: APRIL 2020

From our Manager – Lana de Kort

Finding our new normal in the face of all that is happening is a very real challenge, but together we can do it. We already have a head start. We are a small, connected community that has a history of working together. That has meant that our town has been able to respond quickly to the changes that are happening around us.

Our shops are starting to go online or offer take-away and delivery. Local people are keeping an eye out for each other – visit the #foodisfree stall at CNH, or join the facebook group Cup of Sugar/Cup of Kindness (for locals only). New ways of looking out for each other, linking to support and keeping our spirits up are emerging. Find out about some of them here.

Want to know more?  Follow us on facebook or pop in at 70 Bailey Street, Clunes.

From our manager: March 2020

From our Manager – Lana de Kort

Ensuring the effective operations of a community organisation can be surprisingly complex.   You need to follow good practice, keep abreast and comply with legislation, compliance and funding requirements, stay on top of your deliverables, communicate as effectively as possible and respond to new ideas.  In a nod to this complexity, Clunes Neighbourhood House invited the Australian grassroots community leadership expert, Mark Creyton to Clunes to work with our committee and other groups in 2017.  He spoke with us about what motivates people who step up to take a leadership role in community, and the risk of burn out or damaged relationships (particularly in small towns) as expectations increase or become more complex.   He talked about the shared assets a town has, and the benefits of going easy on ourselves and each other as we all aim high. He talked about the importance of community leadership retaining an element of ‘fun’ for all, while balancing all the responsibilities that come with it.

At the same time as Mr Creyton came to speak, our committee commenced a thorough review and revision of their policies and procedures, leading to Child Safe Practices training for ourselves and other groups with ChildWise in 2018.  It was a long process. Recently many of the forms needed to support our operations – such as volunteer registration forms and induction videos – have all been converted to online forms (see the online forms page).  It’s another nod to complexity because these online forms help reduce double handling and mean electronic record keeping reduces paper and the need for storage. 

As we did this we remembered the discussions that Mr Creyton had raised in that community leadership seminar years back.  The value of sharing assets in order to make it easier on others and ourselves.  For that reason we’ve placed several of these forms here on our website and an explanation of how we developed (and why) these forms to help us operate.  The examples we’ve put up are documents that might be useful to other community groups and could be readily replicated/copied.  Running community groups (typically led by people volunteering their time) is undoubtedly complex. It’s hard to get all of it right or even to just get around to all the work that doing things correctly requires.  Hopefully sharing these will help other groups save some time, leaving more room for the fun and benefits of being involved in community to remain at the fore.

Want to know more?  Follow us on facebook or pop in at 70 Bailey Street, Clunes.

Strawberry Fields Forever…

strawberry clipart.png

Thanks to some hard working and committed individuals the garden space at Neighbourhood House continues to take shape, and we’re all excited to see the fruits of our labour soon.

Our current crop of strawberry cuttings are looking very promising, and if all goes well we’ll have an abundance of strawberries in the coming months. I’ve also managed to sneak in some Flat Leaf Parsley, which is thriving in the current wet weather and, with a bit of luck, will self-seed, creating an abundant and self-renewing source of fresh parsley which we can all enjoy.

Weeding is a constant battle in any garden, and so we decided to plant some purple and white Violets, which not only make it harder for weeds to take hold in the garden beds, but they are a lovely splash of colour and hopefully will cope with the extreme weather in Clunes. We’ve also spent a bit of time weeding beneath the numerous native trees and have added a fresh layer of mulch to prevent fresh weed growth. Dayle and I both extend our thanks to Patrick for his help with this daunting task.

We also want to give a big thanks to Kim for her work in planting the many different succulents around the Art Attack Space – and general help around the garden.   We are so grateful for her hard work, particularly in what has been to put it mildly, rather bleak weather!  Huge thanks too to Patrick who has helped rid our beautiful trees of all the weeds that were strangling them at the base.

Finally, we’ve set up a worm farm. It’s early days yet, and we don’t have that many worms yet, but if the wet weather continues, we should see plenty more soon. However, if you have an abundance of your own worms, do let us know! We’d be more than happy to give them a new home.

But for as much as we’ve done, we still have so much more to do, so by all means if you’re interested in finding out more, head on down and join us for a chat and a cuppa on Fridays mornings between 10-11 am. Alternatively you can ring me on 0421 635 369 and we can have a chat about any questions you have.

Happy gardening!

Carmel Betts

Our Type of Future

Here is just one of the stories our roving reporters from the future have submitted as part of our ‘Type of Town’ project happening at the Warehouse – Clunes at the moment. A timely tale given the Transport Consultation that happened last night at the Warehouse:
A day trip to Clunes, Victoria is like a trip back in time. At one of the entrances to the town there’s a water trough where coaches stopped to refuel their horses. Testament to an era before automobiles became the most common way to travel. It’s important to note because this nod to alternative modes of travel seems to have set the tone in this old gold town and as a result, shaped life in Clunes in 2050.
Opposite the water trough there was a pub. It’s easy to picture how busy it would’ve been. Coaches and horses crossing the nearby bluestone bridge before pulling to a halt to eat, drink and refresh themselves. It’s not hard to imagine the hum of conversation that would have existed as people tipped their hats, brushed the dust off their clothes and exchanged civilities before heading home on foot, or continuing on their journey.
Commuter junctions like this were common place 100 years ago, but now we are used to the cold, impersonal nature of huge train stations, fast-paced freeways or airports where people who stop and chat are suspect, rather than friendly. So you might think it’s strange that I can easily visualise how Clunes might have been long ago.
It’s not strange, because while the pub is now a B&B, everything else I describe is much the same. Somewhere in time, Clunes became a town that decided to forget conformity and carve out its own reality. There’s a museum in the main street. It dominates the streetscape with appealing outdoor spaces on either side of it and a bustling program of activities happening in the old hotel wrapped around it. Ancestry searches, old trades and high-speed wifi make it an appealing destination for visitors from near and far. Here it’s easy to trace the origins of Clunes’ self-determination. This town has been innovative from the very beginning. The mine it was first built around was recognised world-wide for its innovations, and while the town has consciously moved away from the practices that stripped the land of its resources, it’s remained unashamedly innovative.
Take the carpark for example. It’s underground. Built into the hills surrounding the town, the visitors carpark is connected to the mainstreet by winding pathways that are peppered with GPS guides and storytelling touchpoints that kick in as you pass. I’ve a dodgy leg. So while I’d love to walk these paths and see the platypus they tell me are nearby, I’ve opted to ride the electric bikes provided at the carpark. I’m not the only one.
Locals and visitors alike are all on bikes rather than in their cars. Visitors stick to the inner circle of the town (controlled in part by the battery life and coding of the bikes), while locals can be seen further afar. Like most of Victoria, the land around Clunes can be very dry, but careful planting and thinking about walkways had made this a particularly walkable town. An ageing population (an issue anywhere in this country) has probably given rise to the electric bikes with their nifty shade sails?
Easy spots to pull over and chat are evident everywhere in town, even wider afield where you can see that those living on the land or travelling also stop to chat. How do I know this?
Each of these spots features trees, drinking taps and a solar charging station for bikes. Like the trough I first saw when I entered the town, these spots are commuter junctions and they are a big part of the appeal of living in or visiting Clunes. It is social, sustainable, and downright practical and at the same time, blends in with the land. If you look closely at the base of the drinking tap you’ll see an etching carved into it that looks like the water trough that I first saw when I entered town. The etching is another nod to the past, and one that didn’t happen by chance. But then I suspect, everything I see preserved and alive today in Clunes is here because it’s a community that has chosen not to leave how it lives just to chance.
Submitted to the ‘Clunes Star’ in May 2019: from 2050

Getting the Garden Going

Liz Bach, one of our volunteers, working on the beds.
Liz Bach, one of our volunteers, working on the beds.

We started late 2018 when very small group came together responding to the need of the Clunes Neighbourhood House to beautify the area surrounding the 2 containers that are now the home of Art Attack and Bag projects.  Our group consists of Viktoria Bach, Liz Bach and Carmel and Dayle Betts.  Each person has a role to play and can be involved as much or as little as their respective lives allows.

We have 5 freestanding garden beds, as well as the garden beds surrounding the containers. We are fortunate enough to have existing garden beds with reasonable soil so we decided to plant out the containers with some lavenders and native grasses which looked great for a short time.  Unfortunately this didn’t last, and we soon found out the the soil had little ability to hold water and/or nutrients.  Sadly in January 2019 when we resumed work after our Christmas break, there was little evidenced of any plants.  We were devastated by this loss.  Given that it was summer, we took our time as it was blisteringly hot. We were able to source some manure, hay and coffee grounds to add structure to our soil.  Thanks Widow Twankeys – very much appreciated! There was quite a bit of digging and moving manure etc., so that we would be able to plant in Autumn. 


During this time we took some cuttings of herbs and cultivated them at home so that we could keep an eye on our tender little babies.  Finally Autumn arrived with cooler weather and a very little amount of rain. We had a lovely morning planting Red & Green Sorrel, 2 types of Thyme, Rocket, Oregano, Perpetual Basil, Apple Mint, Chives, Borage, Sage, Celery, spring onions and Silverbeet. Earlier we had received a donation of some bulbs so we were able to plant a whole bed of bulbs.  Thank you to Mel Drummond.  It was such a lovely morning planting our little babies and then watering them in.  We had also received a load of manure which we added to the remaining beds.  Thanks Liz.  We have recently moved one of the tables/park bench to our corner of the garden where we cleaned it… it is hardly recognizable!   It has been a couple of weeks since planting and we are very excited to see after more rain that not only have our plants doubled in size but they look healthy and full of promise for a bumper crop.  We have been able to work together to not only beautify the grounds of the Clunes Neighborhood House, we have also developed friendships and a sense of community.  Everyone has been supportive and has contributed spiritually and by the sharing of knowledge, experience and resources.  It is amazing what a few people can do when they come together and share. 

There is still plenty to do and so we will be there each Friday morning at 10am please call in and have a chat or a cuppa and check out our progress.

Carmel & Dayle Betts

Talking Tables

Table Image

One of the best things about living in a community, rather than a town or busy suburb, is being able to talk with your neighbours.  Our neighbours are all around us, down the road as well as next door. Walking around Clunes, it’s nice to say g’day.

Talking Tables is a chance to meet up with someone else have a cuppa and chat. Volunteers from Neighbourhood House have been – and will continue to be – at Clunes cafes throughout March.

When you see someone at a table with an orange Talking Tables sign on it, feel free to sit down, say g’day while you drink your coffee or tea. Cups and conversation are good way to get to know other people in a relaxed and easy way.

Having a conversation doesn’t have to be deep, difficult or demanding. You don’t have to solve the world’s problems.  Sometimes just saying “Hi” is enough. There are proven health benefits to connecting with someone else, so don’t be shy.

Drop down to a Clunes café, sit down and say Hi!

Lighting up Christmas in Clunes

We are all going a little bit crazy here. But that’s Christmas isn’t it? What started out as a small start-up project has “grown like Topsy” and we have a ton of great things happening in Collins Place (our local town square) every Friday night in December leading up to Christmas Day. It will culminate it Carols by Candlelight on the 23rd, including the announcement of the “Let’s Light Up Clunes” Christmas Lights Competition.

We all blame Lana our Co-ordinator, of course. When Lana gets involved, things get a little crazy (in a good way). The “queen of things organisational” has us putting up lights and tinsel, gathering branches, building Christmas trees out of recycled wood, making amazing artwork, organising special entertainers and events. I can’t wait to see what our chalkboard artist has come up with for his special “just-for-Clunes” design.

David Callinan and some of his Christmas Trees made out of recycled wood.

And of course our annual Open House Christmas Dinner is full steam ahead, with a sumptuous feast already planned to get our mouths watering! With Brett handling the decorations side of things, you just know the tables are going to be a beautiful sight.

But the best thing about it all? The way the community comes together – none of this would be happening without all the amazing volunteers who cheerfully give so much of their time and effort to make it happen. Thanks everyone!


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