Day At The Track

New facility has Charlton bubbling with excitement

08:18 PM 20 Apr 2019 NZST
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Charlton president Joey Thompson with club stalwarts and life members Janice Boyle and John Tormey
Charlton president Joey Thompson with club stalwarts and life members Janice Boyle and John Tormey

Charlton’s Joey Thompson has always been known as a passionate harness racing participant – and now his enthusiasm is spilling over with the building of a $4.2 million multipurpose sport and recreation facility at the town’s trotting headquarters.

“This project is going to see a big change in the dynamics at Charlton Park – something that I believe has been missing for a long time,” an excited Thompson, who is club president, said.

“From a harness racing point of view, the building being right on the track is going to add heaps more atmosphere and I can only imagine the echo when the bell sounds for a lap to go,” he said.

“Fans just enjoy being up close to the action. That’s one thing I’ve noticed when I go to Mildura that being right on the track brings such energy to the racing.

“That’s a little something that’s been missing at our meetings I think.”

As well as current club president, Thompson is a well-regarded horse breaker and trainer and has been involved in harness racing for nearly 40 years.

He is a Charlton person through-and-through, and can barely contain his excitement that electricians, plumbers and builders are now on-site, putting the finishing touches to an impressive-looking complex, with a plan for completion by early July.

“We hope to stage our September 29 meeting there so the building will be ‘on show’ for all harness racing people and the community,” Thompson said.

“It’s going to be a huge day and it really completes the package for harness racing here at Charlton.”

Charlton Harness Racing Club was one of the spearheads for the Multi-Purpose Facility and it’s just one of many major projects this energetic regional club has managed to achieve.

In addition to negotiating its 2015 track upgrade, the club successfully established a nearby Charlton Training Complex in 2012.  The community complex is available as a base for local trainers, or those wanting to relocate to the area with tenants having access to individual stabling complexes.  Each has a fully serviced 60 x 30 shed, lock-up harness and feed area, internal yoke up and wash areas, two internal boxes and eight adjoining day yards. They also have unrestricted use of the 820 metre Training Track, 2,000 metre Straight Track and a swimming dam on site.

“This puts us in a really good position going forward,” Thompson said.

“The new multi-purpose centre is going to take our 12 meetings a year to the next level, which we’re really excited about,” he said.

“But there are also eleven tracks within 120 kilometres of Charlton, and they host something like 150 race meetings a year, so the racing opportunities from a base here at Charlton are huge.”

As the construction has been underway on the new multi-purpose centre, Charlton meetings have been transferred to Maryborough, and Melton hosted the club’s Pacing Cup.

The completed hub will also be home to other sport and recreation clubs with shared administration club rooms for football, netball, hockey, tennis, cricket, golf and fishing as well as the Agricultural and Pastoral Society. It will benefit the whole community with provision of state-of-the-art social and conference facilities with seating for 250 people and event catering, with a commercial kitchen.

Thompson said a local fundraising campaign had raised $1.2M from a town of just over 1000 people and the project had been made possible with contributions from the Victorian and Federal Governments, the Buloke Shire, the Charlton and District Community Bank and Harness Racing Victoria.

 “Some of the previous buildings on the site were in pretty poor condition being about 70 years old, and they were also badly damaged by floods,” Thompson said.

“To be honest they were all disjointed buildings and now they will be all in the one large facility,” he said.

“It has been a long time coming.  The community has been working towards this facility for the past 13 years and it’s been an amazing effort.

 “There have been some wonderful, big donations and those people are very humble. But that signifies the community spirit of Charlton.

Thompson said going forward, he could see increased visitor numbers to the precinct, with an emphasis on RV travelers staying on the nearby river.

“Little towns like Charlton live off these people.  This complex will be a great thing for our whole community, so we’re excited and proud that we’re seeing it take shape.” he said.

“We are still short of our target to fully complete stage one of the redevelopment, but we’ll get there.”

Donations are tax deductible, and people making a donation of $100 or more, can stamp their mark on the building with a $20 purchase of a paver.

More information and donations can be made through the Charlton HRC website www.charltonharnessracingclub.com.au

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

 

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