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Green thumbs work on old weeded quarry

The old sandstone quarry, which closed in the 1970s, is part of a larger site that Warrnambool Community Garden (WCG) has been developing and cultivating since 2007. WCG convenor Julie Eagles told Quarry that the community group had decided to take charge of its transformation when they noticed that weeds within the quarry had started to encroach upon the vegetable garden they had planted.

“We engaged a consulting firm to conduct a weed survey and management plan, which made us realise that we needed to take a whole-of-site approach [to managing the weeds]. That gave us the opportunity to do something in the quarry, which people have always suggested would be a good idea,” she explained.

Machinery is currently being used for the initial clearing works but Eagles noted that this process would be followed by a “practice burn” by the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in order to remove the weeds located in inaccessible areas. Depending on the CFA and other factors such as weather conditions, it was expected that this would occur in April, after which Eagles said members of the community would be invited to examine the freshly cleared quarry site to consider ideas for its new purpose.

Commenting on some of the ideas that were already circulating, Eagles said, “The quarry lends itself to being a natural amphitheatre, which could be used as a venue for markets and performances. It could also be used for a native bush food garden, growing both local and unusual food. Another idea has been to put water in it and convert it into wetlands.

“All ideas are on the table, really, and we would like to invite people to come in, have a look and give us their ideas on what we could do in there.”

WCG secured a combination of state government and local council funding to undertake the clearing works at the quarry, and Eagles noted that the community group would soon be seeking funding for the consultation and planning process.

“People find it [the quarry site] really inspiring,” she said. “It excites people and captures their imagination because it’s essentially a blank canvas. The challenge now, though, is that we’ll need further funding to complete the next stages.”

A spokesperson for the Warrnambool City Council advised that the community garden committee had been welcomed to discuss its ideas at a future council briefing. The spokesperson added that the council may also use old bluestone supplies that have been stored at the former sandstone quarry for streetscape works. The bluestone had previously been used in the Warrnambool CBD for driveways which have since been replaced with concrete.

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