January 31, 2011

Folk who have travelled along the Narrabri Road recently may have noticed that a small block of land in the Bingara Common (opposite the Race course and Showground) has recently been cleared and graded of saffron thistles & other rubbish. This is the first physical work on “the Living Classroom”.

In addition to this physical clearing, a great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes, gradually building the Vision for the site  that was first described in the Bingara & District Vision document, published in 2006.

Gwydir Shire Council (GSC) has previously announced success, through the Gwydir Learning Region, in securing a grant of $3.2 million to build three school based trade training centres (TTC’s) within the shire. One of the TTC’s is for Agriculture, and is to be located on the area of 2.25 ha which has just been cleared. This site has been fully surveyed, plans for the buildings are well advanced, and soil testing is about to take place. The goal is to have all three TTC’s completed by March 2012.

The challenge now is to design the rest of the site. A small committee made up of representatives of GSC, Bingara and District Vision 20/20, TAFE and Bingara Central School, has been gathering ideas and considering the enormous but exciting project which lies ahead.

The concept is to turn the Common from a relatively unproductive area of land, into a site of high productivity, balancing environmental regeneration with financial viability, and showing what can be done to address the challenges facing a rapidly changing world, and in particular, changing agriculture and rural communities.

The Living Classroom will provide a bridge linking the industries which will define Bingara in the future – building on our agricultural base, substantially expanding educational opportunities, providing a drawcard for tourism and a focus for regional conferencing. The project hits many of the targets outlined by participants at the “Our Place – Country Town Living 2025” Forum held in February last year.

Everyone is invited to come along to the Vision 20/20 AGM on the evening of Thursday February 3 and to the dinner sponsored by New England Mutual. The AGM will commence at 6:00pm at the Bingara RSL Club with the dinner to follow at 7:00pm. RSVP please to V2020 Secretary, Rick Hutton on 0428 255380.

Garry McDouall (Chair of the “Living Classroom” Committee) will give a presentation on the project, and he and representatives of GSC will answer any questions and will welcome your input.

This is an opportunity to hear about and discuss what may become a defining project for the future of our town, district and the Gwydir Shire.

Submitted by V2020 Secretary, Rick Hutton
Tel: 0428 255380