When a small town gets together to discuss how to continue to thrive in the community, a guru usually tells them to play to their strengths, and people will come. In the Elmore District, this meant agriculture.
“We are staffed by volunteers, about six of us keep the place open seven days a week and we all love what we do,” said Campaspe Run volunteer Judy Simons. “I can’t use the computer, I only answer e-mails,” she adds.
Campaspe Run, the HV McKay Rural Discovery Center, was established by the community of Elmore to celebrate the development of the Sunshine combine.
This revolutionary machine led to the development of Australia’s largest agricultural machinery manufacturing company.
The name Sunshine is a great Australian symbol, and today’s tourists, school groups, social clubs and bus tours are fascinated by this part of Australia’s agricultural history. Jacqui and Judy and the group of local volunteers therefore added more “farming experiences” to the activities and agricultural tools offered by the centre.
The volunteers are more than happy to take a break from their day and they come to demonstrate an incredible amount of rural skills, lost trades and farming practices.
It’s our way of giving back to our community, as well as getting out and meeting different people.
– Judy Simons, Campaspe Run Volunteer
A volunteer will show you when you need to know where milk comes from and how to separate cream from milk. You may even meet the cow.
Then there is the making of the rope. Using a machine that the local blacksmith made over 120 years ago, and which is still like new, visitors can observe the system and skills needed to make rope.
And the favorite demonstration of the last century is the shearing of sheep.
Much like Tom Roberts’ painting, the shearing shed, staffed by volunteers, goes through the process of bringing in the sheep and shearing the wool.
Visitors can even learn to spin the fleece. One of the patient service volunteers guides you through the process on the spinning wheel.
“We love our centre, the pleasure we have of ‘working’ together as well as talking to visitors. Our average age is 65 to 70+.
“It’s our way of giving back to our community, as well as getting out and meeting different people,” Judy says.
Volunteers give their time for free, but they can also benefit greatly. They can make new friends, boost their self-confidence, and learn something new about the world outside their doorstep.
This is the essence of volunteering Australia-wide.