Whittlesea Showgrounds and Recreation Reserves committee of management members pictured at the oval's new boundary fence. Left to right: Barbara Ireland, Nevill McNees, Roger Hurrey, Judy Clements, Rod Luscombe and Graeme Hunter.

Whittlesea Football Club’s first home game of the season earlier this month drew spectators right to the edge of the field, with dozens leaning on the new elbow-height fence at the picturesque Whittlesea Showgrounds and Recreation Reserve.

The new oval boundary fence, installed in December last year, is the result of a mammoth effort from the ground’s committee of management and a team volunteers.

The group not only campaigned for grant funding, but spending two days tearing out the old fence, which had been standing since 1972.

Committee member Judy Clements said the new black plastic-coated chain fence was a priority for both safety and aesthetics.

“It’s been in discussion for a few years because there was a recognised need to address issues particularly in relation to safety for people on the ground and off the ground for the major activities being football throughout the season and also the Whittlesea Show in November,” she said.

“Previously we had a single top-rail fence and of course it meant that children could move in and out without too much of an impediment and that was certainly a concern for us.

“The fence was completed just before Christmas and we’re very pleased to see it here, we think it’s a real asset and appeal on what we think is probably one of the nicest grounds in the state.”

As the site is Crown Land, not owned by council, the committee’s typically 13 members – currently 11 due to recent retirements – are appointed by the state and governed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

DELWP awarded the grant that partially funded the fence and its installation, with the remainder of the money raised by the reserve’s Whittlesea Monday Market.

Committee chair Graeme Hunter said the revenue from the produce and secondhand goods market had presented a range of opportunities for the grounds.

“Our income’s grown because of the market,” he said.

“With the income from the market, and the fence was partly from a grant, we’ll be able to do things where before we couldn’t do, like ashfelting the carpark, and improving the facilities around the ground.”

The 50-acre site, which covers curated land and parklands, is entirely managed and maintained by volunteers.

And having more money doesn’t guarantee works can go ahead.  

“[The fence] didn’t just happen, it’s done by the volunteers taking the initiative,” committee member Roger Hurrey explained.

“Because we’re a volunteer organisation, the volunteers have to organise, get quotes and supervise all these jobs and all that in addition to the market running it every week and then trying to get works done, occupies a lot of time of the committee.”

A further dozen volunteers donate their time to work at the market each week, but Ms Clements said the committee was looking for more volunteers to help on Mondays, or with continuous maintenance including mowing, weed management, tree planting and maintenance, bridge building, drainage works and road maintenance.  

People can contact Judy for more information, either via email at clementsashleypark@dodo.com.au or on 0429 860 370.

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