9 October 2020
Cobargo has achieved finalist status in two categories of the NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards, which encourage, acknowledge and reward the valuable contributions of individuals, communities and businesses in regional NSW and the ACT.
The Cobargo Showground Land Manager has been selected as a finalist in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Crown Land Manager Excellence Award, and the community of Cobargo has been selected as a finalist for the Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award.
A Crown land manager is the name of an entity appointed to care, control and manage Crown reserves on behalf of the people of NSW. This Award recognises outstanding community service ethos, dedication and commitment to their communities.
There are more than 34,000 Crown reserves in NSW, covering about 3.1 million hectares. They are showgrounds, racecourses, surf lifesaving clubs, parks, sporting venues, foreshores, caravan parks, recreational trails and halls.
“The Cobargo Showground is where the Cobargo and district community comes together in good times and hard times,” Crown Land Manager Board Chairman, Richard Tarlinton said.
“During the summer bushfire period, the showground took on the function of community refuge and the focus of the bushfire relief effort.
“It was inevitable that, as a community, we gravitated to the showground during the fire season; offering and receiving help, comfort and friendship. For those who had lost everything, the showground became a place of shelter, somewhere to eat and shower, and to share the experiences we were living through with others who understood.
“It then became the focus of the local bushfire relief effort; a place where we showed that small rural communities do not simply endure disaster but come through stronger, more resilient and more connected than ever before.”
The Cobargo Showground Land Manager Board comprises seven appointed volunteer members, and other local volunteers, mainly from the Cobargo AP&H Society and, more recently, the Yuin Folk Club.
Mr Tarlinton said recent projects at the showground include a major upgrade to the toilets and showers, a new shed and shed extensions, improvements to allow better disabled access, a concrete floor to the bar and canteen area, a cool room and major earthworks, including drainage to increase the amount of usable land.
“Our board is now working with the Yuin Folk Club and the Cobargo AP&H Society on a significant project to build a much-needed modern community facility, which will also be a community bushfire and disaster refuge, located on the showground,” he said.
The Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award, of which the community of the Cobargo region is a finalist, recognises grass-roots, ‘real life’ initiatives (led by local community groups or not-for-profits) that demonstrate genuine involvement, long-term value and add to the life of the community.
When considering this award, the nominees felt the whole community of Cobargo and surrounding localities deserved recognition for the response to the summer bushfires and the subsequent recovery and rebuilding effort.
“When the bushfires struck the Cobargo region, hundreds of homes were lost, four people died, farms were destroyed and a number of historic buildings in the Cobargo village were razed,” Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund Committee member, Debra Summer said.
“Hundreds of members of the community gathered together in the aftermath of the fires at the Cobargo Showground, either sheltering from the fires, as the only place to stay, or volunteering to help those displaced by the fires.
“People of Cobargo and surrounding localities – Quaama, Yowrie, Wandella, Verona, Coolagolite - responded immediately to the disaster, contributing to the relief, recovery and rebuilding of our community, as did local clubs and societies.
“Volunteers from every part of the community set up a refuge/relief centre, community bushfire recovery fund, primary producer emergency feed fund and a business recovery group. A master plan for the village rebuild is in progress, mental health and welfare assistance is available and working groups assist with building, fencing and other necessary farm work.
“Extensive community consultation has influenced the redevelopment of the main street, a new community building/bushfire refuge, a project to improve energy resilience and another focused on environmental rehabilitation.
“Many wonderful, smaller community-initiated projects have also been developed and continue to emerge as a response to the bushfire crisis. This amazing, resilient community keeps coming together magnificently in support and spirit.
“In coming together this way, we have an even stronger sense of community connectedness, volunteerism and caring. That so many individuals stepped up and have gone above and beyond to help the community during this incredibly difficult time, it is impossible to single out any one person for the award.”
The NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards will be presented to the winners on Friday 20 November 2020.