Mighty May Park

  May Park, Western Highway Horsham

May Park, Western Highway Horsham

Almost halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, Horsham is the perfect rest stop for those enduring the long trips up and down the highway. An oasis in the centre of town, May Park, has seen many a local and traveler enjoying a bite to eat and some shade on a hot summer’s day. 

May Park is conveniently located on the Western Highway and offers plenty of parking, takeaway food options, BBQ area, picnic tables, playground, shade areas, grassed sports area, accessible toilets and a service station close by, making it the ideal location to recharge the batteries. Plus, if dining in is more your style, the Horsham Sports and Community Club and Victoria Hotel on the Park are just a stone throw away. 

May Park hosts the Annual Car and Bike Show in March, and over the years has been home to many sports events, Carols by Candlelight and Art Is festival.

A brief history of May Park…

The land that was to become known as May Park was owned by John Gillies when he sold it in 1864 to the Wimmera Shire Council for £77/15/0. It was originally a dam for drainage (including from the May and Millar foundry on the northern side of Victoria Parade - now Dimboola Road), then became a grazing ground for the cows belonging to the residents in the town, followed by a clay pit (used in the 1890s by a local potter George Abbott) before becoming the recreation and garden area we know today.

May Park was transferred to the Borough from the Shire in 1932 and the land was gifted from the Shire to become council property in 1938. The Borough had paid for a bandstand (constructed in 1921 then repaired in 1923) which was sadly removed after World War II - its roofing was used on the city oval booth but that structure was demolished during the 1980s. During the years 1947 and 1948 May Park received renewed interest from both the Borough and the local progress association and so the Millar fountain, which had stood at the intersection of Firebrace and Wilson Streets since 19 February 1902, was moved to its current Park location to be re-roofed in later years.

After being open to the public for some years in 1920 an ‘Official Opening Ceremony’ took place, and May Park was officially declared open by the Mayor of Horsham Cr J Bennett.

In 1921 The Horsham Times reported on May Park Improvements - “A quarterly general meeting of the above association was held in the Town Hall on Thursday evening. Mr J A Morcom presiding over a fair attendance. The President reported that the gross receipts of the collections for the four band recitals held in May Park amounted to £45/14/6, and the expenses, includingadvertising, printing, posters, erection of band stand, etc would amount approximately to £10.

A May and Millar wagon was restored and housed in May Park in February 2017.

Celebrating 140 years of history

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“Twenty six years after it was surveyed, Horsham was able to organise an Agricultural and Pastoral Society and have its first annual show in 1876.  From the very beginning, the aim of the Horsham and Wimmera District Agricultural and Pastoral Society was to ‘improve the quality of livestock and to promote agriculture’ in the district and this the Society has endeavoured to achieve throughout its first hundred years of existence.”  (Exceprt from ‘A History of the Horsham Agricultural Society 1976’ by the late Ian Maroske).

In the words of 1978 Society President, Bernard Gross, “We can look back with appreciation to the generations of men and women of the Horsham and Wimmera Distric who gave the lead for, and the sustained, the Horsham and Wimmera District Agricultural and Pastoral Society and its annual shows.”

So here we are in 2016, a community celebrating 140 years of the history of the Horsham Agricultural Society as it is now known.  In two years time celebrations will be held for the 140th Horsham Show due to their being no shows held during World War II, in 1941 and 1942. As tradition continues, the Society is currently lead by the youngest ever President, 23 year old Dalton Cross who has a strong commitment to the Horsham Show and to the Society where the team of young members continues to grow.

Dalton cordially invites former and current Society members, show sponsors, patrons and the communnity to this free gathering, which will be held on the banks of the Wimmera River at the Showgrounds on February 17 from 5.30pm.  Guests are encouraged to ‘come as you are’, straight from work to share a drink and some stories at the bar with the current members of the Horsham Agricultural Society.  Pizza’s will be on the menu and live music will be provided for everyone’s enjoyment.

The celebration of this anniversary has been delayed to fit in with the 2016 harvest, enabling farmers and many in the agricultural industry to attend.  For more information please call 0400 425 254.

This event has been supported through Horsham Rural City Council’s ‘Connected Communities Small Grant Initiative’ provided through the Local Government Drought Response Package - Regional Development Victoria.

Unveiling the Wartook Valley

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The official launch on 14 November at Deirdre’s Laharum Grove, of a unique illustrated map and guide to Wartook Valley was the culmination of a year’s work for Melbourne artist Jenny Bowman.

This beautiful and educational artist’s interpretation of the Valley was made possible through the work of volunteer members of the Wartook Promotions Group, Victoria State Government Bushfire Fund and the support of Grampians Tourism and Horsham Rural City Council.

It is hoped that the map will foster a sense of place and pride for local residents (especially after the fires and floods of recent years) and to promote the region, increasing tourist visitation and raising awarenessof the beautiful Wartook Valley and the wider region.

The map is designed in the tradition of those lovely old illustrated maps that we may have collected on our travels and brought back home because they were too beautiful to throw away.

We now have a guide to what the Wartook Valley and Grampians region has to offer that we can proudly make available to both national and international travelers alike.

The front of the map gives a strong sense of the entire Wartook Valley and the reverse side of the map provides suggested itineraries, background information, accommodation, dining and attractions within the Valley and surrounding area. The map is also available in poster size.  Perhaps it will be tacked onto a wall in Holland or Germany to remind the travelers who bought it, of a wonderful few days in a very beautiful part of Victoria.

 The artist and designer, Jenny Bowman has endeared herself to locals and has travelled to the Valley twice on research trips, visiting areas of interest, doing drawings, taking photos and staying with Wartook Valley residents.

Jenny is a Melbourne artist and teacher who worked at The Age newspaper for many years. As a freelancer, her clients have included Penguin and Lonely Planet.

She has created many illustrated maps for various publications Her published work includes Winery Regions of Victoria and the Yarra River. Most of her maps are drawn using a dip pen, ink and water colour. She also makes digital maps using Illustrator and Photoshop.

Jenny loves exploring towns and regions in Australia, photographing and illustrating them. Like many Australians she loves to travel overseas, but wishes more of us would spend time exploring our own country. There is so much diversity to experience, and we can help keep our rural areas alive.

You can find some of Jenny’s other work on www.illustratorsaustralia.com 

On Tuesday 15 November, the day after the launch, the artist gave a talk to students at Laharum Primary School explaining her working process to create the map and the Wartook Promotions Group gave a map to each student.

Maps and posters are available at Visitor Information Centres in the region.

What’s old is new again

The tumultuous journey of the much beloved ‘Red Cherry Food Bar’ has now found a sure footing with new local owners Lyn Rogers and Les Harding, coming in to reopen and revamp the café into the new and improved ‘Café Red Cherry’.

Bringing experience and the desire to bring the café back to its former glory, Lyn and Les seized the opportunity to put their twist on it, bringing their 15 years of food service experience and embracing the 1960’s retro diner style which is evident before you even walk in the door. Red and white diner styled seating, records and vinyls of an era past and an atmosphere that sends you back in time to when ice cream floats and slicked back hair were the norm. An older generation will fondly remember times past and the younger kids of today will get a taste of what the 60s were like in Café Red Cherry, being enjoyed by all.

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Not only does Café Red Cherry sends us on a time warp, they also provide some of Horsham’s tastiest home cooked foods, including florry sandwiches, delicious hamburgers and bain marie food ready to be enjoyed at smoko. With Summer underway, Café Red Cherry also boasts a large selection of cold drinks and ice creams to cool you down. Scrumptious slices are always a hit for everyone, and the Café Red Cherry offers a wide selection for you to peruse and feast on, all while enjoying their praised Caffé Firenze, fillipo coffee which has been described as a light, medium finish coffee with a sweeter and more delicate mouth feel. 

If your feeling more peckish and in need of a meal, then the Café Red Cherry can accomodate you with their all-day breakfasts, lunch meals and a plethora of snacks to keep you satisfied, yet still wanting more. Catering is available too for your function or event, and the Café can be even booked for after hours for private functions. 

Come into Café Red Cherry, get your coffee card and meet the happy and friendly staff just waiting to introduce themselves to you. Turn the jukebox up, order a coffee and bask in the new and improved Café Red Cherry, open 6 days a week from 8am, situated next to the Westpac Bank in Firebrace St, Horsham.

Harnessing that feeling

TrotsCountry Cups ambassador Billy Brownless will make a guest appearance at the Horsham Racing Centre on Sunday January 8th 2017 for the gala $70,000 Group 2 Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup race meeting. Brownless will kick the footy and chat with the kids out on the grass track, sign autographs, pose for selfies and give away a number of his signed TrotsCountry footballs.

It’s a great opportunity to round up your friends, family and workmates, pack the picnic hamper, put a few coldies in the esky and get on-course to enjoy a great day out. All the exciting racing is bought right up close on the giant video screen, there’s live music and a host of giveaways & prizes.  Every child at the Trots on Cup Day has the chance to win an Ipad Mini and will also enjoy free sweets and icypoles.

Adults can win a Harness Hot Seat Ride and experience the thrill of a lifetime. Out on the track you share a seat with the starter up on the back of the mobile barrier, get to see the horses and drivers up close in race mode, then feel the ‘G’ forces as the mobile hits top gear and explodes away from the field. Sweepstakes on both the Pacing & Trotting Cups will see two lucky racegoers win a luxury accommodation getaway package.

Your $10 ticket in the Goodform Punters Club comes a free $10 TAB betting voucher for you to invest while you follow the fortunes of the HRV Goodform experts as they “punt the pool” during the afternoon and hopefully return a healthy dividend after the last race. HRV race caller Dan Mielicki has given voice to Trots Interactive, the new virtual reality experience has proved a real hit with racegoers at TrotsCountry Cups this season.

The Virtual Reality headset immerses the viewer in a race type situation. The 360-degree camera allows the viewer to witness the racing action through the eyes of a trots driver from any desired angle. A limited number of umbrella & mini-marquee packages are available by booking with Jo Cross on 0407 871206 or email horsham.harness@bigpond.com

Gates open at 1.00pm and the horse action begins with a heat of the Lattanzio Pony Trots, just before the first of the 8 race TAB program. The Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup meeting is a fantastic community event that’s not to be missed - HORSHAM IS HOT TO TROT!

Nhill Pinball Museum hitting the target

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The Australian National Pinball Museum has ‘hit the target’ in the township of Nhill.

This newly opened popular attraction is conveniently located adjacent to the Nhill Oasis Motel; so you can spend all day at the interactive museum and then fall asleep in your own comfortable bed only a few steps away! The Australian Pinball Museum (www.pinballmuseum.com.au) is open 11am to 9pm, seven days a week,- making it perfect for a weekend getaway, a relaxing stop after work, and a great place to take a break from travelling. The museum is free to enter with the majority of pinballs costing only a $1 to play,- now isn’t that a cheap way to entertain! It draws a mix of people from all ages, groups and walks of life; including those wanting to relive their youth and those who are into retro gaming. 

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The Australian Pinball Museum is one of the largest public pinball locations in Australia. Currently on display are pinball machines from the past 40 years, with new pinballs constantly being added. Feel like learning the mechanism behind pinball engineering? Well you can at this interactive museum, not only does it contain quality pinball machines that you can actually play, but also amazing autographed pinball artwork, original pinball schematics and other pinball memorabilia. The way this museum has been crafted and put together is like it has been given a little bit of pinball magic.

Some of the featured machines include: Banzai Run, manufactured by Williams in 1988, it is the only pinball machine to feature a full vertical playfield located in the backglass. The rare German model of the KISS pinball, manufactured in 1979 by Bally can also be found here. Newer games are included too, like ACDC Back in Black, manufactured by Stern in 2012 -  featuring entire ACDC songs, this limited edition machine had a production run of only 300 machines and is autographed by the game designer, Steve Ritchie. There is also an XMEN Magneto Pinball, which is also manufactured by Stern in 2012,- this limited edition machine is based on the comics and had a production run of only 250; it is also autographed by its game designer, John Borg. Star Trek is the newest addition to the Pinball Museum arriving only a few days ago - It is interesting to see the changes and improvements of pinball in the modern era. There are also numerous other machines on display including the highly collectable and sought after machines Twilight Zone and Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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The concept of an Australian Pinball Museum started back in the 1990’s. The Carter family operated an amusement machine business in Adelaide for a number of years, and when that was sold in the mid 1990’s, the vast majority of the machines were put in storage for the last 20 years.  This explains the pristine condition of a lot of the machines, as some were only on site a few months and have had very little use. The hope has always been that they could be put on display and played again.

Due to a huge cultural phenomenon of guys wanting a ‘mancave’, pinball machines have undergone a massive increase in popularity. In the USA, pinball machines have undergone a resurgence too,- as the Carter’s had noticed on their trips there for another business. So when space recently became available at the Nhill Oasis Motel, it was the perfect time and place to put the Pinball Museum plan into action.

The vast majority of the pinballs at the national pinball museum came from this family business; with many more pinballs still unavailable for public viewing yet. The space being used became available when the Nhill Oasis Motel, a niche ‘Route 66’ type motel, was doing a massive makeover. One of the free spaces at the front of the motel was allocated for the museum and another for a unique display of crystals, minerals, and fossils. The choice to make the museum interactive was an easy one for the owners as it is their belief that “pinballs should not just be hidden away in collections, but actually played and enjoyed”. Future plans for the non-profit Pinball Museum involve further restoration of some older pinballs that are still in storage, so they can be brought across and added to the playable collection, as well as adding more brand new machines. Donations, including any pinball memorabilia, is always appreciated. Space is expected to be an issue in the future, but the current plan involves rotating the pinball displays so that there is a different line up for repeat guests. 

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The staff at the museum are very enthusiastic to share their pinball knowledge,- as they are not just collectors, but have been arcade operators and also avid pinball players for many years.

The Australian Pinball Museum is a great place to stop by and have a lot of fun in Nhill, even if it is just for a 20 minute break, and it’s really easy to find with the life size dinosaur out front! 

More information available from: 
Website:    www.pinballmuseum.com.au
Facebook:    www.facebook.com/PinballMuseum
Twitter:    @PinballMuseumAU
Location:    22 Dimboola Rd (Western Highway), Nhill 3418 (Adjacent to Nhill Oasis Motel)
Cost:    Free Entry

Horsham is gliding on air

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Horsham Flying Club (formally ‘Wimmera Soaring Club’) is the sole club in the Southern Hemisphere selected by the FAI, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, to host a leg of the prestigious International Sailplane Grand Prix event (SGP).  

The Horsham competition, the 8th SPG series, is over seven days from December 14 to 20, 2016, and although restricted to 20 of the world's best competitors is expected to attract many spectators and much international media attention. This event will provide immediate exposure to world class glider racing through GPS tracking and logging devices fed to a moving map display and transmitted via high-speed internet worldwide.

Where this event has been held in Europe, and other countries, it has experienced high visitation levels coupled with very high levels of digital attendance via the live internet broadcast of the races. Horsham and the Wimmera will be showcased during these broadcasts and exposure of the environment will be significant.


Events that led up to hosting this event.

According to club president Arnold Niewand, the club has been trying unsuccessfully to host a major event since 2012.

In 2012, we put in an expression of interest to host the 2014 National Gliding Championships, he said, there were many Gliding clubs across Australia who also tried and we missed out. Early in 2013 we put in an expression of interest in holding the 2015 Junior World Gliding Championships, which were later given to Lake Keepit in NSW.Again, in 2014 we looked at hosting the 2018 Women’s World Gliding Championships, but missed out.

Early in 2016 we decided to bid for the Australian qualifying round of the 8th series of the Sailplane Grand Prix event and by the middle of May we were granted permission.

This did not give us a lot of time to prepare and the pace has been hectic trying to fulfil all the requirements of the International Sailplane Grand Prix organization. With the requirement to transmit in real time the gliders as they race across the Wimmera Plains, we need to provide significant band width and high speed internet.

This coupled with loggers and tracking devices in each glider, has been a challenge but we believe we have all elements covered, Mr Niewand said.

Horsham Flying Club boasts the facilities needed to host an international event. The club has successfully hosted gliding competition events for 50 years and witnessed a steady increase in competition numbers.

In 2015 and again this year, the club hosted the Victorian State Gliding Championships which attracted pilots and support crew from across Australia. This year almost 40 pilots competed for awards. The glider pilots use the sun's energy to manoeuvre a set course which is expected to take about two hours. Pilots will depend mostly on thermals to fly the courses set over the Wimmera plains - and the Grampians, if conditions allow.

Horsham in Victoria's west, has long been recognized as an ideal location for glider flight. Its flat, broadacre farmlands make it a safe area to fly. Horsham Flying Club is the home of the longest continuously run gliding event at the same location in Australia and possibly the world. 

The 2016 FAI Sailplane Grand Prix event will have lasting benefit on the community of Horsham and Horsham Flying Club. The event is expected to attract many people to the Wimmera with pilots, support teams and interested public and media. Horsham Flying Club expects increased membership from the event.  The event will also result in increased utilization of assets and aerodrome infrastructure and increased interest in flying from the Horsham base by glider pilots both in Australia and overseas. 

Indirect benefits will flow to many Horsham businesses in increased economic activity through accommodation, meals, fuel and equipment, as well as increased tourist dollars for the whole region.


The event will result in:  

  • World exposure to the gliding fraternity and beyond.
  • Increased potential membership for the Horsham Flying Club.
  • Attract national gliding participants / clubs to the area as a training camp.
  • Provide opportunities for international tourism in the region.
  • Increase business opportunities for local traders.
  • The event will run for seven consecutive days from December 14 to 20, 2016, with two practise days on December 12 and 13. On the weekend prior to the official event, pilots and crew will arrive in Horsham to rig gliders, conduct site orientation and test type certification/weight requirements.

Public Participation.

The public are encouraged to come out to the Horsham aerodrome to see firsthand some of the world’s best pilots flying in this exciting sport. There will be spectator areas for public viewing of the start and finish of races, as well as wide screen TV sets tuned to the SGP you tube site situated in the Horsham Flying Club hangars.

All races will start and finish over the aerodrome in full view of the public and a public commentary is anticipated.