Silo artwork among seven drought projects planned at Karoonda

Karoonda's main street. Photo: File.
Karoonda's main street. Photo: File.

Outside money will be the key to drought recovery in Karoonda, the district's councillors have heard.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, they endorsed six applications to a federal drought communities program.

The big one, worth $388,000, was for a silo artwork and main street upgrade at Karoonda.

The artwork will be designed by Illuminart, the company behind the projections on the silos during last year's farm fair, and Juddy Roller, a network of artists specialising in silo art and large-scale murals.

Councillors agreed to overturn the council's usual procurement rules and engage the two companies directly due to the urgency associated with the project.

The federal funding comes with a catch: all projects must be completed before July 1.

Community members will be asked to contribute ideas for the artwork, and to provide feedback on the other upgrades proposed along the main street, including more seating and shade, solar street lights and a public wi-fi network.

However, the council did not forget the other suggestions it received during a recent, frenzied period of talks about what to do with the $1 million on offer from Canberra.

It will apply for another $62,000 for a silo art launch event; solar panels and a cool room for Karoonda Football Club; solar panels and air conditioning for the bowling club; signage for Pioneer Park; and solar panels and a rainwater tank for the Mantung hall.

Its staff will spend up to 15 hours helping the football club, hall and local resident Hannah Loller write applications to a Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal grant program for each of five other projects.

And staff also provided a list of possible funding sources relevant to various other ideas, relating to everything from weed control to sporting facilities and mental health.

Councillors opted not to support funding applications for the Karoonda Tourist Park or Karoonda Institute just yet.

The council hopes to hear back about its largest single drought program application – for $550,000 for a child care centre and community hub – later this month.

The program was intended to replace the economic activity that would usually be happening in rural towns were it not for the drought gripping the Mallee.