50 towns in 50 days: The rise and rise of Elaine

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MOST people know Elaine as a quick stop on the highway between Ballarat and Geelong.

Stay a little longer than a drink break and you’ll find Elaine is pulling together to reform a strong sense of community.

On the boundary of the town’s recreation reserve is the old timekeepers’ shed from football days when matches were last held in the late 1960s.

The timekeepers’ old bell has started to ring once more with cricket back on the oval.

Elaine Cricket Club broke a 12-year recess to put teams on the park this summer.

To celebrate, cricketers shake rust off the bell each time they hit a six. Juniors are allowed the honour for a four.

The club became one of the first in Australia to form from a Milo In2Cricket program and the resurgence was led by Elaine parent Shane Dunn two years ago.

AFL Auskick arrived a year later.

This summer, Elaine boasts a team in the Ballarat Cricket Association under-14 reds, combined with Meredith juniors, and a senior team with 37 men signed up to play.

Buninyong and Meredith cricket clubs and Cricket Victoria helped kit the club out with equipment.

Elaine Cricket Club secretary Murray Arnel said it was interesting to see the little club bounce back.

“We kept the club in corporation for another day and needed at least six members to keep it going. It got to a point when we nearly winded up and gave the money away but all of a sudden, out of the blue, cricket is back,” Mr Arnel said.

“A good percentage of (senior) blokes are from the old club, travelling from Melbourne, Geelong, Portarlington and Ballarat to play...it’s overwhelming how many have come back to cricket.”

Mr Arnel said he loved that Elaine’s oval was wedged between a major highway and railway line.

Sometimes, when cricketers got really fired up, a six would be hit clean onto the Midland Highway.

Tennis is also back on Elaine courts at the reserve, which shares with the local junior fire brigade training.

The recreation reserve committee, of which Mr Arnel is also a member, is working bit-by-bit to modernise the ground with new club rooms, barbecue facilities, news trees on the perimetre and, hopefully soon, a new tennis court surface.

“We’re trying to put family spirit back into the club and build it up as that,” Mr Arnel said.

“To do that, we know we need to put back into our juniors.”

The basics

Municipality: Moorabool Shire

Population: About 250 people, 97 residences.

First settled: In the 1860s as Mount Doran region but officially named Elaine in 1872.

Main industries: wood, timber, agriculture.

Claim to fame: For the state’s Serbian Orthodox communities, Elaine is the place to be for the feast of Saint Sava in January. Leaders and followers from across the world also make the pilgrimage.

Five fast facts

1. Cricket went into recess for 12 years and the town’s club was revived for the 2012-13 season.

2. Auskick arrived in Elaine last year. The town had been without football since 1968.

3. Elaine was a stopover on the Geelong-Ballarat railway line but also a stop on the Cobb&Co route to Ballarat.

4. Elaine was originally known as “Stoney Rises”.

5. The Serbian monastery has in its floors the remains of a church elder who died en-route from Greece.

Five things to do in Elaine

1. Pull on your whites. Cricket is coming back in a big way. The recreation reserve lauded for having one of the best out-fields in the district.

2. Add stunning colour to your home with a visit to Lara Glass, known for its led lighting and hometown crafted The Damian Collection.

3. Host an executive retreat, wedding or fine dining experience at Sovereign Hill’s Narmbool rural escape. Narmbool is primarily an educational venue.

4. Call in at the general store for a snack and supplies while on the road. The Railway Hotel next door is also handy for a pint or two.

5. Saddle-up for horse-riding in Mount Doran.

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