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New picnic tables open up outdoor dining options

Members of the Newstead Men's Shed with one of their handcrafted picnic tables.

Keep an eye out for seven new picnic tables in Castlemaine and Harcourt, carefully constructed by members of the Newstead Men's Shed.

Thursday 4 February 2021

Mount Alexander Shire Council is expanding options for outdoor dining with the temporary installation of seven new picnic tables, located in the Castlemaine CBD and Harcourt.

The A-frame picnic tables are made from plantation timber and have been constructed by members of the Newstead Men’s Shed.

The tables are located at the entrance to the Castlemaine Market Building, on the grass opposite the Castlemaine IGA Supermarket, and at Stanley Park in Harcourt.

“The installation of the temporary picnic tables is the next of many simple and temporary actions Council is taking to help local hospitality businesses accommodate extra patrons, and our community to come together anew, in a fun and safe way as part of our COVID-19 recovery,” said David Leathem, Manager Economy and Culture, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

“Members of the Newstead Men’s Shed installed the picnic tables at the chosen locations earlier this week, and within minutes, they were being populated by local residents and visitors enjoying the sunshine and their lunch,” said Mr Leathem.

“We’re really pleased that they are being used and embraced by our community so quickly.

“We wish to express our thanks to the Newstead Men’s Shed for their craftsmanship and enthusiasm for this initiative,” he said.

Council is working in partnership with local businesses and associations to identify other temporary sites within the shire for future outdoor dining and entertainment experiences.

“Our plans with future activations will continue to draw on our local trades and creative strengths to bring our outdoor spaces to life,” said Mr Leathem.

“A number of other sites will emerge throughout the shire including at Maldon’s Old Bank Corner, in the lead up to Castlemaine State Festival and other autumn events, when we welcome many of our friends, family and visitors from far and wide,” he said.

Council is providing support to local business through the establishment of a new application process for hospitality businesses who are interested in introducing or expanding their outdoor dining space, following approval of a temporary permit in consultation with Council.

“There is no cost for the temporary permit and we have waived outdoor dining fees for this financial year as part of our 2020/2021 budget.”

Council staff have recently worked with business owners at St Florian and Wild Food and Wine to repurpose the space in front of the wine bar and the café on Templeton Street in Castlemaine to create the shire’s first temporary parklet.

Following positive feedback from the community on the initiative, Council is encouraging other hospitality businesses to get in touch with its business recovery team to discuss their needs.

“If businesses are interested in applying for a parklet, or keen to find out more about how we can assist them to adapt, please contact us,” said Mr Leathem.

For more information on applying for a parklet, or further business support contact Eva Parkin, Economic Development Officer, on 5471 1700 or visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/COVID19BusinessSupport.

Funding for the picnic tables has been made possible through a $250,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package.

Caption: Members of the Newstead Men’s Shed sitting at the one of the picnic tables they recently constructed to increase outdoor dining options in the shire.
From left to right: Alastair Jessop, James Grant, Ron Johnson, Graeme Lees, John Milne.

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