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Tree-planting ceremony marks 100 years of Rotary in Australia

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By Colin MacGillivray

A century of community service was marked with the burial of a time capsule and the planting of trees near Kilmore by members of the Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell and Rotary E-Club 9790 on Wednesday.

The service marked exactly 100 years since the formation of the first Rotary club in Australia, with many Rotarians from the southern Mitchell region and beyond turning out to celebrate.

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The two clubs planted trees as part of a Rotary Peace Arboretum project on land north of Kilmore-Lancefield Road, and also buried a time capsule to be dug up in another 100 years.

The aim of the project is to have more than 400 trees representing countries and cultures from around the world planted on land cultivated in the style of a botanic garden.

Rotarian Phil Clancy said representing as many countries as possible would represent the ideals of peace, harmony and multiculturalism.

“We planted our first trees here in 2018 and we started with a small olive tree, which represents peace,” he said.

“Kilmore was the first town [in Victoria] to be settled outside of Melbourne, so it’s a place where a lot of people from other countries ventured into. This is an appreciation of the community and country in which our families have prospered, and aims to foster peace.

“Future members of cultural groups and new arrivals will be invited to assist in planting trees that relate to their homelands.

“We wish this arboretum to become a place in the country where community groups and individuals from other countries may visit and meet in a celebration of peace.

“We’ve been working together for the past four years on this project and it is on land being set aside by a covenant.”

The eight-and-a-half acres of land on which the trees and time capsule were planted was donated by Rotarian Sonny Gomez.

Mr Gomez said his donation was about contributing to his community.

“I came here as a migrant with a suitcase and $100 in my pocket. Now it’s a good time to give back to the community,” he said.

“I bought this property 20 years ago … and I want to lock it in now so that at the end of the day this will be a good park for everybody in the community.

“At the moment one of our main issues is nature. If you can protect nature, you can also protect people.

“Hopefully it will be passed along and will still be here in 100 years. That would be quite good.”

Mr Clancy said a record of all current members of both the Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell and Rotary E-Club 9790 would be buried in the time capsule, along with a list of the heritages of each of their families.

The time capsule will also contain a Rotary publication marking the organisation’s 100-year anniversary in Australia and New Zealand, as well as other keepsakes, memorabilia and information.

Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell president Simon Doyle said he hoped the legacy created by the group would be a positive and enduring one.

“What Rotary has achieved is something we should be proud of, not only in our local area but around the world,” he said.

“A lot of people wonder what they can do to make a change, and if you join a community group like Rotary, it gets out there and does stuff. Every little step forward we can take helps to make a better life for all of us.

“I think we’re a really good, vibrant club, with people of all ages, and we’re very much a family-orientated club.

“I’ve brought my 14-month-old son along in the hope that in 100 years’ time when this time capsule is opened, he might outlive us all and have a chance of opening it for us.”

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