Axedale Colonial Country Fair 1994

The following article about the Axedale Colonial Country Fair appeared in the community newspaper, Axedale Antics on ??? This annual event was very much looked forward to by the community during the 1990s.

From: The Axedale Antics, October 1994, Edition 79

With only a few weeks to go, the Axedale Colonial Country Fair, being held on Sunday 16 October, is shaping up to be another wonderful day once more. Many of the great attractions from previous years, and some exciting new ones, will be entertaining the public all day.

The Axedale Colonial Fair is colonial AND country, incoporating the old and the new, with interesting and entertaining exhibitions and attractions, rides and relics, dining and dancing., from past to present day. There will be a hot air balloon and helicopter, Cobb & Co coach and camels, merry-go-round and gyrobix, Harley motor bike and hay rides to delight young and old alike.

Aboriginal Corroborees, Irish, Scottish, Dutch and Australian bush dances, and the Eurofest choir will perform, as well as a one act play put on by the Bendigo Community Heralth Centre and some local school children.

The Muddyflats country music band and the Emu Creek bush band will give us some easy listening music and assist the dancers. Chinese Lions will visit and dance and prance for your enjoyment.

The Axedale Colonial Country Fair Town Crier’s competition will be bigger than ever this year, with at least ten town criers showing us how well they can raise their voices.

Rob The Swaggie and Kookie Koala will no doubt have a hard time endeavouring to keep Benjamin B. Bunyip in line as usual.

Listen in delight to the beautiful sound of bygone days that emit from the old Harkness whistles.

Artillery and defence displays, including a leopard tank, will be mingled among the various other displays of vintage cars, restored Holdens and Morris Minors, motor cross bikes and sprint cars, antique machinery, Neighbourhood Watch, Penguin Club of Australia, Bendigo Community Health Centre, and many others.

View the extensive array of collectives belonging to the Golden City Collectors and the delightful doll display. Be amazed at the skills of the chainsaw sculptures. See a real, live blacksmith, and step back in time with the Axedale and Strathfieldsaye History display.

Visit the miniature rail roads, and while there, take the opportunity to talk to someone many miles away in Australia on the Bendigo Amateur Radio equipment.

Out on the arena, watch the Nanneella Tent Peggers, and the Bendigo Polo Cross give you some exhilarating examples of their exciting talents.

Clown around with clowns, meet Billy Bottle and Captain Koala, introduce yourself to the Clydesdale with the old bakers cart, inspect the penny farthing bikes, listen to the buskers, and get Ian Glanville, the characturist, to draw a portrait for you. Have a limerick written especially for you.

While Mum and Dad take advantage of a tour of the Axedale Cemetery, leave the kids at Kids Corner, where they can have their faces painted, play Life Be In It games, and enter the Benjamin BG. Bunyip colouring competition – great prizes.

Bring along your favourite pets and enter them in the Uncles Ben’s Pets ‘n’ Pals Parade – plenty of prizes and novelty sections.

This year, the inaugural Axedale Colonial Country Fair/Bendigo Cycling Club race, will take place with approx 30 senior and 30 junior riders competing.

While you wander through the large array of art & craft stalls, which include pottery and paintings, calico arts and ceramics, wooden toys and tartan weavers, jewellery and folk art, garden accessories and wood turning, hats and teddy bears, novelties and white elephant stalls, – you certainly won’t suffer any hunger pains with the variety of foods and refreshments available. Devonshire teas, pies and hot dogs, hot potatoes and takeaway, BBQ, confectionary, cakes and coffee, ice creams and soft drinks and an alcohol bar.

The Fair will be officially opened at 10am by Commissioner Mr. Les Crofts, and the entertainment will flow all day until 6pm.

At 3pm, many of these wonderful participants will congregate to be involved in the Grande Parade around the oval, and anyone attending the fair in costume is also invited to be involved in this. Prizes are awarded on the day for a variety of categories, eg. costume, stall, display.

The Dragon City Marshalls will be in attendance to assist in ensuring that people of all ages, and from all walks of life may have a hazard free and happy day.

So come visit us at Axedale, at the Colonial Country Fair on Sunday 16th October – we’d love to see you.

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Helpers are needed to help in the preparation of the grounds, in setting up on the day, and for manning various positions on the day – if you can help, we’d be very grateful. Also if you have any knowledge on erecting marquees, we sure could use you. Please phone 397316

Also donations of scones and/or cakes for the Devonshire Tea stall will be very gratefully accepted – once again, if you can help, please phone.
Many Thanks, Doreen (Secretary)

If you recognise yourself in the photos, please let me know and I will add your name.

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About AOTOF – Axedale Our Town Our Future

Local community group Axedale Our Town – Our Future, known as AOTOF, was formed in 2007, with the purpose of putting together a local community plan. Since this group formed, there has been much work done by the committee and members, to make improvements to Axedale, and also to the lives of the people in the community of Axedale and surrounds.

The committee of AOTOF have developed a community plan, which was a collaboration with the local community and the City of Greater Bendigo. When this plan was put into place, it was intended that everything on the plan would be enacted by the end of 2022. Covid-19 has caused the plan to be slightly behind where expected, but it is still a work in progress.

The AOTOF committee is sectioned into portfolios, with committee members, choosing the portfolio that is of interest to them. The portfolios are as follows”

* Community Portfolio
* Community Resilience Portfolio
* Events Portfolio
* Communications Portfolio

As a result of the Axedale Community Plan, many events, both informative and fun, now appear regularly on the local calendar. Axedale is now a vibrant community, due to the hard work done by committed locals.

Community members are always welcome to attend and contribute to AOTOF meetings. At the moment, however, due to Covid-19, the meetings are held virtually. If you are interested in attending, leave me a comment and I will ensure you have the necessary information.

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Event: Kids In The Park

Recently, a crowd of excited children gathered at the Axedale Community Park for ‘Kids In The Park – Space Day’. Lots of fun was had and energy burnt off on what was the last day of the school holidays.

The event was organised by Sonya Browne on behalf on local community group Axedale Our Town Our Future (AOTOF).

The fun included a jumping castle, arts and crafts, face painting and story time. Children were invited to come dressed in their favourite space costume with prizes for best costumes.

*Thanks to Sonya Browne for photos

Pirates in Axedale

On the last Friday of the recent school holidays, excited little pirates converged on Axedale Community Park for the Axedale Community Pirate Party.

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Organiser Sonya Browne said the event which was sponsored by Axedale Our Town Our Future was a huge success. Children had fun on the pirate jumping castle and were even able to walk the plank like a true pirate.

The Axedale Community is well know for their support of local events, and this one was no exception. This was a free event which was an added bonus for families at the end of the school holidays.

Sale of St. Pauls Anglican Church Axedale

The following article was on The Bendigo Advertiser website on 12 July 2017. Could be the start of a huge combined effort by the Axedale community:

A progress association president says it is “now or never” for community action to keep an Axedale church from being sold into private hands.

The St Paul’s Anglican Church congregation last met in 2015 and the Anglican Diocese of Bendigo wants it rezoned and sold.

This Thursday the Axedale Our Town Our Future committee will consider stepping in to rally support to keep it in community hands.

The church was build in 1913. In recent times the congregation had diminished until it consisted of just two families, the diocese’ general manager Naomi Fountain said.

Two years ago the diocese and its Axedale Parish made the decision to stop services at the church, which Mrs Fountain described as “heartbreaking”.

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“We are very much a rural diocese (and) we work very hard in rural parishes to maintain a sense of community and ministry,”  she said.

Mrs Fountain said work had begun to rezone the property for residential use, though plans for a sales date was some time away.

AOTOF president Jennifer Jones said the turnout at a recent public information session showed there was some interest within the community for the church to remain a public institution.

She stressed any action to keep the building open to the public was still in early days, but could involve community groups purchasing it and surrounding land.

It was unclear how much support any plan would have if it was taken to the wider community, though Mrs Fountain said once the property was on the market the diocese would be open to community groups’ interest.

A community purchase would not come without what Ms Jones described as a “huge effort”.

A community committee would most likely be needed to drive fundraisers, grant applications and other work needed to raise money and coordinate any campaign.

Nor were there yet any concrete examples of what the building and grounds would be used for.

“My personal opinion is that it could become a community house or a small community hub,” Ms Jones said.

She said a recent survey had shown a need for space to house the area’s community groups.

“Axedale is growing. There’s lots of young families coming here,” Ms Jones said.

More Axedale Public Hall memories

from Axedale Antics, Issue 146, September 2008

Axedale Public Hall

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“Last month’s article in praise of the Axedale Public Hall inspired a couple of locals to contact the Antics and pass on a few memories. We welcome this feedback and hope that more of you will be inspired to add your own snippets of information to our fund of local knowledge.

Apparently, in it’s hey day, the Axedale Hall had the reputation of having the best dance floor anywhere in the district and people came from far and wide to do the Pride of Erin, the Barn Dance, Maxina, Charmaine, Evening Three Step, Modern Waltz and the Foxtrot, among other old time dances.

The hall custodians prepared the floor by scattering wax flakes or crystals and then ‘bagging’ the floor. Sometimes a box, covered in hessian or carpet was used and often small children helped the operation by riding on the bags or on top of the box, to add a bit of weight. The Dunlop family have been closely associated with the hall and Roy Dunlop was the regular M.C. or Master of Ceremonies. Peter and Kate Dunlop continue this involvement; Peter being the Secretary of the Hall Committee.

Music for the dancing was usually just provided by the piano and drums, and Maisie Evans and Win Byrne were regular pianists with Les Giri on the drums. Power for the dances, balls, and other entertainments was provided by a generator powered by an old Fordson tractor, which on occasions was notoriously difficult to start.  There was a house on the corner of McIvor Highway and Mitchell Street, where the barbecue now stands, and the tractor was kept there, at the ready. Before it’s demolition, the house was the residence of the two Misses Ryan.

Although it is hard for us to imagine life without electricity, it only came to Axedale in December 1955, and country life was beginning to change. Young people were beginning to be known as ‘teenagers’.  Some of them were even getting their own cars at 18 years of age, (although at Bendigo Teachers College in 1955, only 3 out of 200 had a car).

Rock and Roll music became popular. Shock horror, Elvis Presley ousted Johnny Ray (of ‘Crying’ Fame) and Bill Haley and The Comets burst onto the scene in the film “Rock Around The Clock’.

The first drive-in picture theatre opened in 1956 and competed with The Lyric, The Plaza, and The Princess, which were the existing Bendigo picture theatres at that time.

Dances were held at the YMCA and St. Killian’s on Saturday nights, and once a year a grand presentation ball was held in the Bendigo Town Hall, where each student was presented to the Mayor of Bendigo

November 1956 saw the arrival of TV, in time for the Melbourne Olympic Games, and even the liquor licences were changing.  We said goodbye to the ‘6 o’clock swill’ and social life changed.  Young people were mobile, dinner dances became popular, and by the time I returned to this district in 1965, the hall was used infrequently and carried a burden of debt.

Sometimes a new resident comes to a town, views the scene from a new perspective, and decides to make a difference. Such a person was Senior Constable A.E. (Ted) Godkin, who came to Axedale from Nagambie in 1967.

Ted could probably be described as a ‘sportsnut’.  He was a champion lawn bowler and was immediately snapped up as a Pennant player by a top Bendigo club.  He soon observed that Axedale had no sporting facilities at all apart from a sadly neglected public reserve, covered in 10ft high thistles, and a flat area where a couple of granite posts were the only remains of a tennis court.  Then there was this beautiful hall, which stood like a white elephant, rarely used, and almost a liability to the community who still had to finish paying for it.

Having played an indoor version of the game of bowls in earlier days, Ted could envisage a regular competition which would provide recreation for people of all ages and an income stream to the Hall Committee.  He lost no time in borrowing the necessary bowls, mats and measuring equipment, and spread the word around the district.

I’ll never forget the first bowls night.  The Axedale people sat on one side of the hall while the Knowsley people sat on the other, because they didn’t really know each other at all well.   The “Blowinskis” those of us who were new to the district, sat across the front while Ted explained the finer points.

It took off like wildfire.  We managed for a while with borrowed equipment but soon were able to purchase new mats and sets of bias bowls.  Indoor bowls was played two  nights each week, Wednesday and Saturday, and it wasn’t long before Tournaments and Championships were on the agenda.  We were able to fit seven mats in the hall, so it was not uncommon to have more than 100 participants.  With a regular rental income, the Hall Committee soon covered the existing debt and went from strength to strength.

An extremely hard working Hall Committee Ladies Auxiliary ( a plaque in the hall commemorates a lifetime of service by Mon Colvin, 23 years as Secretary) ran an annual casserole luncheon, three debutante balls and formed a Euchre club.

Best of all, we got to know our neighbours and made lasting friendships.  The Axedale Indoor Bowling Club functioned for more than 30 years until the cost of public liability insurance became prohibitive but in future issues we will explain how the sporting facilities we enjoy today sprang from the foundation

**written by Axedale resident, Lorraine Gunn