Spotlight shines brightly on Cudgee

Cudgee Primary School council member Alecia Bellgrove with her children Issa Matsuno, 4, and Cudgee school captain Shion Matsuno, 12. Picture:LEANNE PICKETT

Cudgee Primary School council member Alecia Bellgrove with her children Issa Matsuno, 4, and Cudgee school captain Shion Matsuno, 12. Picture:LEANNE PICKETT

PAST glories and a new direction have put the spotlight shining brightly on the tiny township of Cudgee.

This week Moyne Shire councillors approved two new subdivisions for the town — one of 11 lots and the other 14.

The announcement of this future growth comes in a year when 150th celebrations will be held for both the town and its primary school.

It should come as no surprise that Cudgee is now well and truly on the map as a preferred destination to live for young families in the south-west. 

There is plenty to attract people to the township, an idyllic place set back off the busy Princes Highway with the Cudgee Creek meandering gently through its heart.

It is a short 10-minute commute from Warrnambool, has an impressive primary school and a tangible sense of community created by the new and old residents who call the town home.

But with progress comes the pressure on both the way of life residents have become accustomed to and the lack of services that a growing population requires.

The community is proving to be a pro-active one with the Cudgee Progress Association having a membership of around 20.

The progress association is carrying out two valuable roles — giving the town a voice as issues arise and bringing together the past, present and future.

Cudgee Progress Association committee member Timshel Knoll-Miller has experienced first-hand the growing pains associated with the town’s expansion. Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Cudgee Progress Association committee member Timshel Knoll-Miller has experienced first-hand the growing pains associated with the town’s expansion. Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Timshel Knoll-Miller is a member of the Cudgee Progress Association and has been a property owner in the town for eight years.

His two children attend the Cudgee Primary School with their preferred method of transport to ride their bikes to school.

It is through this personal experience that Mr Knoll-Miller has seen first-hand the growing pains associated with Cudgee’s expansion.

On Tuesday he addressed the Moyne Shire Council May meeting in Mortlake to support his submission to the council’s 2014-15 budget.

One of the main points of his submission is for the council to find $33,000 to complete the footpath on the west side of Dwarroon Road that leads to the school.

He said while the gravel path that is currently in place is OK for walking on, its shifting nature makes it an unattractive option for young children riding their bikes.

“There are only 20 children at the school but most days there are eight to 10 bikes in the bike shed at the school,” Mr Knoll-Miller said.

“And if the kids aren’t riding then a lot of them are walking so we would like to have a footpath that can be easily used.

“With the continued increase in traffic from the new developments this creates a very dangerous situation.”

Alecia Bellgrove is also a member of the Cudgee Progress Association and also sits on the school council.

She moved to Cudgee in 2005 after finding the “perfect block of land” and making a spontaneous decision to buy it. 

She commutes to her place of employment at Deakin University by car or bike and has not a moment’s regret about making the move to Cudgee.

“To be honest it has turned out even better than I expected. One of the loveliest things about Cudgee is that sense of community,” Ms Bellgrove said.

Progress association functions held at the community-owned and run Cudgee hall have allowed Ms Bellgrove and her family to grow their community contacts.

The school remains the hub of the town with Ms Bellgrove’s son Shion Matsuno the school captain and her four-year-old Issa Matsuno set to join the school community next year.

The school has two full-time staff members as well as teachers who come in for arts and music programs and visits from the mobile library.

And while life in Cudgee is good, Ms Bellgrove said the community was mindful of its responsibility to make sure the growth that continues to come happens in the right way.

“We don’t want to portray Cudgee as a community that doesn’t want other people coming in. It’s more that we want some foresight and planning from the council put into the development of the town,” Ms Bellgrove said. 

“Cudgee is well placed to grow but the primary concern is subdivisions going through without strategic planning.” 

Moyne Shire community engagement officer Craig Midgley is in many ways the face of the council and the first point of contact for the smaller towns in the shire.

Mr Midgley attends Cudgee Progress Association meetings and is happy with the relationship between council and the group.

“I think the great thing about the Cudgee Progress Association is it has got the conversation started about things that are happening in the town,” Mr Midgley said.

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