With just over 150 residents, Warrenbayne’s tight-knit community is brought together through the revamp of its community hall.
Having community spaces for people to get together is important for rural areas throughout Victoria.
Valuable friendships and connections form when getting involved in the local community, which are often most experienced in times of need.
The ‘spirit’ of rural communities is fostered through local events and activities held in community halls. Halls provide a central gathering place in what are often remote communities.
This rings true for places like Warrenbayne, where the community hall is a key hub for locals to come together. Warrenbayne is a rural locality built on farming, dairying, sawmilling and winegrowing, which help support Victoria’s agricultural industry.
Around 20 minutes from Benalla, the hall is the only public-use building in the small community where a range of fundraisers, meetings and celebrations are held each year.
Family-friendly events such as Christmas in July serve up roast meals shared with locals, along with holiday events including a Christmas Tree Gathering, ANZAC Day Commemoration and Australia Day celebration – all run by the hall’s committee.
The building was recently overhauled with a roofing upgrade and evaporative air-conditioning system to ensure it remains up and running for years to come.
These upgrades were backed by a grant as part of the Victorian Government’s Stronger Regional Communities Program, which paved the way for a total upgrade to the hall.
“The hall had got to the stage where we considered shutting the doors, so it was great to get the funding to keep it running,” Warrenbayne Hall’s Committee President Ken Heywood says.
New upgrades to the outdoor barbecue facilities and bathrooms, a new kitchen stove and a hot water system were installed, to better equip the hall with more facilities for community events and gatherings.
The kitchen renovations are helping pave the way for regular community dinners that help bring Warrenbayne together over a meal.
Aside from the events that take place inside the hall, the outdoor area remains a key place for people to gather for picnics and to play tennis on the nearby courts.
“Lately we’ve been having locals use the new barbecue facilities and get together which is great,” Ken says.
“This hall is extremely important for Warrenbayne – without it there’s nowhere for the community to come together.”
Not only do community halls help entertain and connect the local community, but they can also act as a vital meeting point for organisations and groups.
Warrenbayne Hall is a key meeting spot for the local Country Fire Authority (CFA) to undertake meetings, training and drills year-round.
“This hall is a key meeting place for the community, but it also supports organisations like the CFA to conduct important meetings” Warrenbayne Hall’s Treasurer Helen Bromley says.
“Our local fire station doesn’t have a meeting room, so the hall gives them a spot to come together in comfort.”
From local barbecues and events to CFA meetings, community facilities like the Warrenbayne Hall are an important element to living in a rural setting.
Read more below about how other community halls are helping local communities across regional Victoria.