This is a good news story is about a little town called Colbinabbin – a small farming community in central Victoria, with a huge, huge heart.
It’s got a population of just over 100 (according to the welcome sign), but it’s always punched well above its weight – in sport, in agricultural production, in community spirit, in fight. Especially in fight.
If you grew up at Colbo, as I was lucky to do, you’re damn proud of that fact. Even long after you’ve moved away, you still wear it as a badge of honour. Once a Colbo girl, always a #colbogirl.
At Colbinabbin, people care about their town. And people care about each other.
For the past two years, the town’s general store has been on the market. It’s the only food store in the one street town and it’s a vital piece of infrastructure that binds this beautiful community together. Without it, the whole town would suffer. Not only would residents be forced to travel 25km to the nearest local centre, or 50km to Bendigo, but the township could be looking down the barrel of eventually disappearing altogether.
With the store’s future becoming increasingly uncertain, a group of dedicated locals started fighting for its survival.
They formed a community cooperative in the hope of raising enough money to purchase and renovate the business themselves.
With a deadline set for yesterday to raise more than $400,000 in pledges, Colbo was literally in a race against time.
But they bloody did it. In a matter of days this incredible little town hit that target, and in doing so secured the future of their general store, and their community.
They received huge investment from locals, but also from further afield – from people who have lived in the community in the past, or who have connections to the area.
Because once you let Colbo in to your heart, you never let it go. It has that enduring kind of impact on people.
A couple of years ago, this same community saved its swimming pool from closure in a David and Goliath type battle against the local council.
Before that, two women saved the 110-year old Colbinabbin pub, re-opening it after it closed down. They later sold it to another two amazing women with strong ties to the town who have injected new life into the much-loved establishment with events, live music, twilight markets, a pub choir and a one-day music festival – Octolbo.
Painting is also about to start on the Colbinabbin Silo Art Project, which will see all six silos painted in what promises to be one of the greatest silo art canvases yet seen in Australia.
Colbinabbin – the little town that could.
I couldn’t be prouder to call you home.