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Locals meet with the Campaspe Shire Council to discuss the reassignment of water to the Rochester Racecourse Recreation Reserve

By Kimberley Price

A DELEGATION of locals have taken it upon themselves to reinvigorate the Rochester Racecourse Recreation Reserve (The 4Rs).

Heading to Echuca last Tuesday afternoon, the 4Rs spokesperson Russell Major, president Don Thompson, Campaspe Golf Club president Rodney McAsey and secretary Naida Belot asked Campaspe Shire Council to reinstate the water to the reserve as soon as possible.

In 2010, following the closure of the Campaspe Irrigation District due to the millennium drought, the water from Campaspe River for the reserve was stopped. The money gained by the shire in this move was given back to the Rochester community and spent on initiatives such as the recent upgrade of the tennis club.

Since then, the reserve has been relying on the four dams on the 100-acre site to water and keep the golf fairways healthy. However, with the recent lack of rain, more water is needed.

“We have been battling since the water was taken away,” Mr Major said.

“As rain is getting less and less, we need a reliable water source as back-up to our dams.”

The group travelled to Echuca to take the first step in getting the water back. In a briefing, Mr Major spoke for about 20 minutes and was asked five questions by the councillors about the process of the water returning. “We were pleased with their responses,” Mr McAsey said.

“They seem to be more positive and understanding of our situation.”

Mayor Adrian Weston was sympathetic to the group and the water allocation.

‘‘The delegation talked about the future of the reserve and expressed their views about it being a valued asset of the Rochester community, used by several groups,’’ he said.

‘‘They have had a few conversations with council about their desire to secure a regular water supply for the reserve to make it better and sustainable into the future.

‘‘Their focus is to get more water onto the reserve for the benefit of the community.’’

At the moment, the golf club can only water the tees of the golf course and it is only using nine of the 18 holes.

The group is hoping the reserve’s water can be reinstalled to service the whole community. As the ground is in the heart of the town, many members of the Rochester community use the reserve every day for walking, school activities and, of course, golf. It is also one of the very few sand scrape courses in Victoria that is open 365 days of the year.

The reserve and pavilion have been the destination for many functions and weddings over the years. However, in the current dried state, the venue is less appealing for such functions. But with more water, the reserve would be restored to its former, beautiful glory.

If water was to be re-allocated to the reserve, the 4Rs group says area would once again be a thriving community centre.

“The whole course is all set up with sprinklers,” Mr McAsey said.

“But there is just no water.

“It’s such a waste.”

Now, after the initial briefing, the 4Rs and Campaspe Golf Club will wait until to hear from the Campaspe Shire Council about what its next steps will be.