Wheatbelt wows Governor

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

In her first visit to regional WA since her appointment as WA Governor, Kerry Sanderson said the sense of community and the mutual support demonstrated across the Wheatbelt was impressive.

The Governor visited the communities of Gingin, New Norcia, Cunderdin, Merredin, Bruce Rock, Corrigin, Wickepin, Wagin, Narrogin and Northam last week, and spent time with the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group, the Facey Group, Wheatbelt NRM and the Avon Valley Environmental Society.

Mrs Sanderson said the purpose of the tour was to understand and offer support and encouragement to people doing work to promote the sense of community and volunteering.

"(It is for) those that are working to help others, or promoting innovation and collaboration," she said.

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Mrs Sanderson said she viewed the Wheatbelt as important to the economy of the State, and wanted to speak first hand to educators, health professionals, Shire representatives, volunteers, and farmers.

"I was impressed by the work being undertaken by both the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group and The Facey Group to improve productivity and to share knowledge," she said.

Corrigin Farm Improvement Group president Simon Wallwork said the tour was an important opportunity to demonstrate the value of small grower groups and their impact on farmer innovation.

"The Governor wanted to find out what we are wanting to achieve as a grower group and how we are going about doing that. She obviously has a particular interest in science and innovation so she was interested in how we test things in the paddock, and how we do our trials," he said.

Mr Wallwork said the group outlined the challenges associated with running a grower group, which predominantly relied on volunteers to achieve results.

"We had quite a discussion about the funding of grower groups and how it can be difficult as voluntary organisations," he said.

"Administration of these groups can be a challenge, so we explained that to her."

"The Governor stressed the importance of voluntary efforts and how this is important in these communities.

Avon Valley Environmental Society president Peter Weatherly hosted the Government on a walk along the Avon River at Burlong Park, west of Northam.

Mr Weatherly said Burlong Pool, one of many permanent Avon River Pools had been transformed over the past seven years with the help of at least six different organisations, including Wheatbelt NRM, the Shire of Northam and the local Aboriginal community.

"There has been a real awakening of the importance of this site as a decade ago it was just a dumping ground for rubbish, but now again it's an important site for both the Aboriginal and broader Northam community," he said.

"We've cleaned up the site, dredged the pool of sediment, planted trees, built a walking track and installed 12 interpretative signs."

Burlong Pool is culturally significant to the Aboriginal people as during the Dream Time it was known as the summer home of the Wargal or rainbow serpent.

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