THERE is a real sense of townspeople rolling up their sleeves in Meredith and helping each other out.
Meredith Primary School principal Doug Cations said that despite big demographic shifts the past decade, the town still held traditional farming values, which made a real sense of community.
Young families are moving into the town based halfway between Ballarat and Geelong, with a half-hour commute for work or high school in either city.
Mr Cations said it does not take new city children - and their parents - to quickly adapt to the Meredith lifestyle.
“It’s a really nice little place to be,” Mr Cations said.
“There’s lots of little industry around here...a lot of people with different skills to support clubs or offer each other in-kind labour, like bulldozers to help move things.”
Mr Cations said community groups bonded for the iconic Meredith Music Festival, and its laid-back Golden Plains spin-off, to work the tucker tent.
The school, tennis club, cricket club, hall committee, kindergarten and masters football team serve up hungry revellers and split the profits evenly.
Meredith is growing but retaining its small-town, relaxed vibe and there is plenty more promising ventures to come.
The 50-acre Police Paddock will be developed into picturesque walking paths and picnic spaces. A Visitors Centre on the Midland Highway is already under construction and school is pushing to have the town’s kindergarten on site in coming years.
Happy Hens Egg Farms and Meredith Dairy (known for its goats cheese) headline local industry, which includes agronomists, earthmovers and window manufacturing stamping their mark in town.
More businesses are opening up, including a couple of cafes, while keeping Meredith’s country charm intact.
Meredith primary’s schoolyard is a great example of the town - the beautiful bluestone school building complementing simple, modern extensions.
Municipality: Golden Plains Shire
First settled: 1837. Meredith was settled as part of an agricultural run, Thomas and Somerville Learmonth's Native Creek No. 1 run.
Main industries: Agriculture, forestry and fishing, wine production, education and training and construction.
Claim to fame: Modern music-lovers know Meredith for its music festivals. Food connoisseurs indulge in the town’s goat cheese.
Five fast facts
1. Sir Henry Edward Bolte, Victoria’s 38th and longest-serving premier, spent most of his adult life on a farm on Meredith’s outskirts.
2. Tasmania’s first premier William Thomas Napier Champ retired to Meredith where he ran farming property Darra. Mr Champ was also inspector-general of Victorian penal establishments and oversaw the building of Pentridge Gaol.
3. Coolebarghurk Creek that runs through Meredith can claim the distinction of once being the haunt of the bush ranger ‘Captain Melville’. Francis Melville was one of Victoria’s most notorious bushrangers.
4. Meredith Music Festival has been rockin’ the region since 1991, when it started as a party for 200 people. Festival goers last year topped a 10,000-strong crowd.
5. The Meredith Gift is billed as “the world’s greatest nude race” for competitors to battle in the buff, usually over 80 metres, on the Sunday of the Meredith Music Festival.
Five things to do in Meredith
1. Chill out with a latte. Coffee shops are starting to spring up in the town centre, the latest being Coco Monkey, where you can enjoy a relaxed country vibe.
2. Take a stroll along The Path of the Ibis on Coolebarghurk Creek and enjoy the wildlife and Ibis-themed artwork.
3. Visit the Shire Hall in Staughton Street, a single-storey structure built in 1878 of rock-faced basalt squares and limestone from Waurn Ponds. The hall features Corinthian columns, a prominent gabled portico and arcade. Also visit the 1862 railway station.
4. Get your groove on at the three-day Meredith Music Festival in December or the more laid-back Golden Plains Music Festival on Labour Day weekend. Both alternate music gatherings are held at Supernatural Amphitheatre.
5. Victoria’s richest and most spectacular wildflower habitat lies on the Meredith outskirts in the Brisbane Ranges National Park. An amazing ghost town, with lingering spirits from the 1800s gold rush, is in the Steiglitz Historical Park within the Ranges.