After more than 16 years of indecision and delays, the new Miners Rest saleyard is finally set to open its gates.
Next Monday and Tuesday will mark the final two days of sales at Delacombe as next Friday will see the start of sales in Miners Rest, with store cattle sales taking place from 10am.
It was back in 2002 when then-councillor Wayne Rigg questioned the ability of the Delacombe site to meet the needs of the expanding livestock-selling sector in Ballarat.
The current saleyards have been in operation for more than 60 years, so there are sure to be mixed emotions from all come the last sales.
“It’s pretty sad to see it close,” Xavier Burke from T.B. White and Sons said.
“We’ve been working there for our 25 years in operation, so it’s definitely going to be a bit of a sombre moment.”
These sentiments were echoed by HF Richards manager Bernie Nevins.
“There are going to be some mixed feelings,” he said.
“The young people may not care, but I’ve met some great characters and got a mountain of memories in my 30 years at those yards, so to move is really going to be bittersweet.”
Businesses along La Trobe Street are also sure to feel the impact of the saleyard’s departure.
“It’s going to be sad to see them go,” Ballarat Bakery’s Rod Pope said.
“We’ve met a lot of friendly customers, but we’re sure they’ll still come by to grab a coffee and a pie from time-to-time.”
The decision to move came despite an uproar from the residents who had campaigned tirelessly to stop the development in its tracks, as they feared it would stifle growth in the region.
Work on the new $24 million site near the intersection of the Sunraysia and Western highways began in mid-2017.
More than 57 tonnes of rock has been trucked into the site which will become the largest of its kind in Victoria once fully operational.
The site is being touted as much better for animal welfare, sporting more than 30,000 square metres of undercover selling pens and livestock-friendly soft flooring which will be installed across the facility.
The transition to the new saleyards won’t be without its issues, with Mr Nevins identifying a need for cohesion between the stock agents and the Central Victoria Livestock Exchange.
“It’s no secret we’ve had a strained relationship in the past, but we have to work with them, we don’t have a choice,” he said.
“We need to make sure this situation is beneficial for both of us.”
The final question being asked by everyone is what is the Delacombe site going to be used for.
Council announced the Latrobe Street Saleyards Precinct Urban Renewal project in April, which focuses on “providing a significant opportunity to establish a gateway to the city from the west, as well as activating and introducing sensitive uses such as residential and education to the south-western interface to Victoria Park.”
Sixteen years in the making
In 2002, then Councillor Wayne Rigg questioned the ability of the current site to meet the needs of the expanding livestock-selling sector in Ballarat.
In 2005, council name Cardigan and Learmonth as a possible location for the new saleyards.
Following a groundswell of community opposition, Learmonth was then named for a $30 million agri-business hub that included saleyards and an abattoir in 2006.
In 2007, councillors voted to pass the responsibility of the saleyards relocation to Sunraysia Avenue, Miners Rest onto the state government.
In 2012, Miners Rest is named the site of the new saleyards, City Councillor John Philips wants the new Miners Rest saleyard site to get up and running as soon as possible. Work expected to begin in 2014.
In 2013, residents say the plans have potential to ruin their township.
In 2014, RLX Investment Company Pty Ltd and Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd (RIPL) submit the application to relocate the Ballarat saleyard to Miners Rest.
In 2015, council officially approves the planning application with a vote of seven-to-two despite significant public push-back.
In 2017, works begin on the new saleyards. Gary Edwards from the Central Victoria Livestock Exchange said “It’s going to be a very impressive facility, the challenge is it's been seven years coming, we would have liked it to be two done in years.”
In 2018, first sales are announced for August 17, however the date is pushed back due to poor weather conditions.
October 19 will see the first day of sales.