Day At The Track

Community generosity to the fore at Charlton Park

04:00 PM 03 Sep 2019 NZST
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Charlton Park,Harness racing
The unveiling of the new facility to harness racing fans will occur in November
Charlton Park

The true-blue Aussie country spirit of digging deep for a community vision has again been demonstrated with the recent completion of a $4.2 million multi-purpose sports and recreation facility at Charlton.

Past and present residents of the small farming centre, situated just over 100kms north west of Bendigo, raised a phenomenal $1.25 million toward creating the integrated community hub at the town sporting park reserve.

And despite having to reschedule its first planned two harness racing meetings to allow completion of some of the details around the project, the local trots fraternity isn't allowing the disappointment to diminish the magnitude of the effort.

"We want it to be right - to come all this way and to have some of the finer details not finished off wouldn't be right, so we've decided to defer our first couple of meetings so we can showcase the facility to its full potential," President of Charlton Harness Racing Club Joe Thompson said.

"The whole project is a truly remarkable effort by all concerned. I think it works out to $1200 per head of our population which is just amazing when you sit down and think about it," he said.

The state of the art social, sporting and conference centre will provide facilities for all users at the park. In addition to harness racing, it will include football, cricket, golf, hockey, netball, tennis and fishing as well as the Agricultural and Pastoral Society.

Charlton Park photo

"Many of the previous buildings were old, in terrible condition through flood damage, and fell well short of meeting community needs and the community has been working toward redeveloping the facility since 2006," Mr Thompson said.

"And it hasn't been easy because there was drought, then a flood in 2011 and another drought."

Mr Thompson said while the building had been completed, the first harness racing meeting scheduled for September 29 was being transferred to Maryborough.

"Maryborough has been hosting our meetings since redevelopment work began and while it's a little disappointing, the surrounds are not quite ready for a race meeting," he said.

"We've also decided to hold our second meeting for the season on October 28 at Melton. Then we will be ready to unveil our new awesome facilities in November."

Mr Thompson said his committee was among those "chomping at the bit" to get harness racing back up and running at Charlton.

"There's going to be some added atmosphere that has been missing. With the verandah of the new building virtually sitting up against the track, spectators are right on the action," he said.

"Mildura and Perth's Gloucester Park are examples of this. At many of the other tracks you feel removed because of distance.

"We're thinking that the ringing of the bell with a lap to go in a race, it'll echo right along the verandah of the new building.

"You'll be able to hear the thumping of the hooves and the drivers yelling and urging their horses and it'll all add to the excitement of a day at the trots at Charlton, that's for sure."


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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