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Drought programme helps put Goondiwindi on the map

Yelarbon Silos

Along with a host of other local projects, the Goondiwindi Shire has been able to put itself on the map with its famed Yelarbon Silo Project, thanks to the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Programme (DCP).

The Goondiwindi Local Government Area, sitting on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, is an important crop and livestock producing area. However, the continuing drought has created tough conditions for farmers, with flow on impacts to businesses and the broader community.

In 2018, the Regional Council received $1 million as part of the Drought Communities Programme. Then, on 7 November 2019, it was announced the shire would receive an additional $1 million due to the ongoing drought.

Goondiwindi Mayor Graham Scheu said the funding has been spent on a range of projects across the shire’s seven towns to ensure the whole region benefited.

“Council used that first $1 million to boost the local economy and create new jobs,” Graham said.

“It’s important to keep local trade skills in town and businesses working. The projects we funded using local supplies were accepted by the community.”

Completed in 2019, the first tranche of projects included the delivery of a much-needed renewed irrigation system at Barry McGregor Oval, a repair and paint of the Inglewood Recreation Centre and the construction of new footpaths in Goondiwindi and Inglewood.

The council was also able to improve water supply quality to the popular camping area at Lake Coolmunda, installing a new filtration system to ensure that tourists continue to visit.

Along with improvements to Inglewood Works Depot, a repaired netball court surface at Riddles Oval, rehabilitation of a truck parking area and construction work on a rotunda in the Goondiwindi Memorial Park, the programme also funded the famed Yelarbon Silo Project.

Located at the edge of the spinifex desert, the 24-metre tall artwork titled When the Rain Comes depicts a young boy sailing a paper boat on a lagoon. It has launched the region onto the map of Australia’s growing silo art trail and the benefits will continue to flow well after the drought has ended, with increased tourism opportunities diversifying and revitalising the economy.

Meanwhile, Mayor Scheu said the second $1 million received late last year is going into groundwater infrastructure in order to provide greater drinking water security.

“We’ve finished drilling one bore at Goondiwindi which is flowing, and we’re now drilling a second,” he said.

“This will give us two backup bores to supplement our supply from the Macintyre River. Before the recent rain, we had just 10 weeks of drinking water left so our target has been to drought proof our seven towns for decades to come and through future droughts.”

“We now have new bores in Texas, Yelarbon and Goondiwindi, and have commenced investigations for groundwater in Inglewood.”