The recent receipt of a $67,000 grant from the State Government’s Crown Reserve Improvement Fund will give Manilla Bushmen’s Carnival Association the green light to go ahead with much needed upgrading of arena panels at its complex opposite the showground.
And secretary Julie Duff is one of several members of the association keen to see the repair work get underway.
“After three unsuccessful attempts, we’re pretty happy with the funding. You can’t do improvements without money, and the panels are really in need of repair. They’ll all be renewed with rubber secured all the way around,” Julie said.
In an attempt to minimiselabour costs of the work – which should get underway later in the year – membership and volunteer help will be called upon as much as possible.
“It’ll probably take the best of a couple of good weekends of work slamming in posts and applying rubber, so we’ll need to depend upon member and community labour. We’d like to involve the community as much as we can as it’s in little towns like ours that the community plays a big role in supporting and helping sporting clubs like this.In turn, we help the community. We’re a user group of the showground, so when we have a campdraft with anything up to 900 runs over two days, those people will camp and support the town,” Julie said.
“People love coming to Manilla for its atmosphere, good viewing area and canteen. We’re near the township, so they can pop up to the pub for lunch or support the shops. And the community itself likes to come and watch. It’s all about history – we’ve been here a long time.”
Campdrafting– Australia’s own sport which can be enjoyed by all members of a family – has been in Manilla through the Bushmen’s Carnival Association for over 80 years, and was originally held on the showground itself.
“I think Robbo (well-known campdrafter and horseman the late Ron Robinson) was fairly instrumental in having it moved from the showground and across the road to its present site,” Julie said.
The dust has only just settled on the association’s most recent campdraft which was to have run in conjunction with the Manilla Show, but postponed because of the weather.
“We had it two weeks later and put through around 300 runs on the day. Normally we’d put through 400 to 450 runs in a day. Covid and the drought has played havoc, we’ve had to cancel regular training days, clinics and campdraft events because of them.”
The panels will be manufactured locally from good old Aussie-made steel by M & M Stockyards, whose manager Chris Paull said that the grant was a “good move forward for the association”. Committeeperson Tammy Connor added that the upgrade work would be “great for the community and hopefully with more grantsand further work we could hold more events to involve the community”.
Julie is keen to apply for further grants down the line.
“To get everything done we’d likewould require about $150,000, but $67,000 is a great start. Future improvements would be building of a disabled mounting ramp, repair work on the working backyard area and a new arena surface. When we get this all done, it would mean not only holding more campdrafts, training days and clinics ourselves, but also being affordable for other equine groups to use the facility. And we’d be meeting required safety standards and guidelines. One big reason we apply for repair grants is to keep up with the animal welfare and competitor safety side of things.
“Manilla’s very central, and a lot of smaller user groups are looking for this type of venue. We’ll just keep applying for grants – it’s a big process applying, but we were lucky this time in that we had support letters from a lot of local equine groups saying that a grant for improvement work here would be a big benefit for the industry. We even had the support of Kevin Anderson (Member for Tamworth), and it’s good to have him aboard.”
By Vinnie Todd