Mirboo North Playgroup
Two years ago the MN Playgroup Committee realised that it needed to replace the rubber tough surface on its outdoor undercover area, which after 10 years of high impact use was ‘peeling’ off the ground. Though the cost was a little steep ($10,000 plus), it really makes a difference to our little ones to have a softer landing when they tumble off their scooters or when learning to walk. Our Grants co-ordinator at the time, Rachael O’Connor, applied to the Community Foundation and FRRR for grants which would split the cost three ways (with MN Playgroup also contributing). The Mirboo North and District Community Foundation awarded this grant in 2015, but unfortunately the FRRR application was not successful, so Rachael got to work again and applied to the South Gippsland Shire for the rest of the funding (which was successful in 2016!).
It was when Rachael took on the role of Playgroup’s Events Co-ordinator in 2016 (together with Shareen Bickerton), that this Project became much bigger. At Rachael’s suggestion, it was agreed that MN Playgroup should hold an event to celebrate the centenary of Playgroup’s home, Mirboo North’s Railway Station, whilst also celebrating the history of Playgroup itself, and showcasing the newly renovated rubber tough surface.
Once the final piece of funding was secured from South Gippsland Shire, everything swung into action. It was decided to incorporate a railway track onto the rubber tough surface, together with three local stations, Mirboo North, Darlimurla and Boolarra, to commemorate the link between the wonderful old Railway station and the current users. The rubber tough surface and railway track was installed in the September holidays (2016) and the children quickly took to riding and walking along the tracks and developing new skills, including giving way at the intersections!
Rachael, Shareen and Dani Calafiore got to work with various organisations to make this event happen. Most important was the Mirboo & District Historical Society. The Mirboo & District Historical Society worked to prepare historical displays about the train services to and from Mirboo North and the building of the Railway Station itself. They also prepared books of articles and photos featuring Mirboo North Playgroup from its creation in 1979 up to date. Joe Pincini kindly provided a piece of video showing the last train leaving Mirboo North, and Rachael located the ‘headboard’ of the train connecting to the last passenger train to leave Mirboo North in 1974 (donated by Alexandra Timber Tramway to Mirboo & District Historical Society – see photo).
It was decided to hold the celebration as part of Mirboo North’s ‘Christmas is Coming’ Trader’s night. The detailed historical displays were set up inside the building, including the DVD of the last train leaving Mirboo North which could be heard periodically chuffing away, and the Playgroup grounds were decorated. On the night we were lucky enough to have music courtesy of the Latrobe Community Concert Band and South Gippsland Brass Band, and of course there were speeches and a large train birthday cake (made for the occasion by the wonderful members of Mirboo CWA). The Presidents of MN Playgroup, Dani Calafiore, and Mirboo & District Historical Society, Faye Marshman, got the task of jointly cutting the cake and making sure that there was enough to go around. We were also delighted that Bernice Snell agreed to say a few words about the creation of the Mirboo North Playgroup back in 1979, including how and why it came about. She commented that she had made lifetime friends through her involvement with the Playgroup and was delighted that it still continued strong. This message was echoed by the current members of MN Playgroup, who thanked her for getting this wonderful organisation off the ground.
Many thanks to everyone involved in this celebration and may the historic railway station building and this wonderful playgroup continue their association for many more years to come.
On more practical note, Playgroup’s 2017 session starts on Thursday 2nd February, running every Tuesday and Thursday from 9.30 – 11.30 during term time. Please come along and make some life-long friends!