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Council brings outdoor spaces to life during autumn

People enjoying the hand-made picnic tables, located next to the Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre.

Mount Alexander Shire Council is encouraging people to discover some of the temporary outdoor dining precincts that are ‘popping-up’ throughout the shire during autumn.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Mount Alexander Shire Council is encouraging people to discover some of the temporary outdoor dining precincts that are ‘popping-up’ throughout the shire during autumn.

Council is establishing temporary outdoor eating and entertainment areas in locations in Maldon and Castlemaine over the coming weeks, enabling businesses to cater for more diners whilst meeting COVID-19 restrictions.

“We know not every business has the room to put tables and chairs on the footpath, so we’ve taken an innovative approach in considering the needs of hospitality business and the community,” said David Leathem, Manager, Economy and Culture, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

Maldon’s historic Old Bank Corner is set to transform into a public park from Thursday 7 March.

The site will be temporarily fitted out with some trees, bench-style seating, low tables, and upcycled planter boxes which will cater for an over spill from hospitality businesses in the area.

Reclaimed materials for the pop-up park style installation have been sourced from local business The Salvage Yard, and include locally sourced steel tanks from Baringhup, and timber from the Castlemaine - Maldon rail line.

A trial crossing point is also in development further up Main Street in Maldon to provide residents and visitors with a safer crossing point during this time.

Over in Castlemaine, the vacant carpark in Frederick Street will receive a temporary make-over, with the installation of additional outdoor furniture, family-friendly entertainment from local performers, live music, and a range of vibrant ‘pop-up’ art installations.

“Council is really excited to be collaborating with local arts and event producers, The Village, on the look and feel of this temporary site,” said Mr Leathem.

“The Village have developed carnival-like installations for the Falls Festival in Lorne, the Edinburgh Gardens in Melbourne, and the Village Winter Festival right here in the shire, so we’re looking forward to the creativity that they’ll bring to this.”

Collaborations at the Frederick Street site also involve the Castlemaine State and Fringe Festivals, in line with Council’s ‘Get Lost’ program which supports our cultural and creative industries to work together.

“Autumn, and particularly festival time, brings with it a high number of visitors to the shire,” said Mr Leathem.

“Where possible, we’d encourage residents to walk and cycle between venues during the festivals too. It’s not only good for the environment and our health, but a great way to get a different perspective on our town.”

Council is currently inviting community feedback on concept designs to upgrade Frederick Street and Mechanics Lane in Castlemaine.

The plan includes creating a shared precinct to allow safer access for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. It also focuses on improving the amenity of the area through landscaping, street furniture and lighting, all maintaining historical characteristics.

“The temporary activation of the Frederick Street car park is an opportunity for us to be able to test the waters, and temporarily implement some of the design elements proposed in the various streetscape plans,” said Mr Leathem.

“Through creating vibrant and interactive public places, we’re also developing new and innovative ways to enjoy our towns, which is really exciting.”

The sites at Old Bank Corner and Frederick Street carpark are the latest in a number of locations chosen throughout the shire to provide for temporary outdoor dining and entertainment experiences.

In February, Council installed seven picnic tables at various locations in the Castlemaine CBD and Harcourt to help local hospitality businesses accommodate extra patrons.

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

Council has recently worked with business owners at St Florian and Wild Food and Wine to repurpose a driveway and car space in front of the wine bar and 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 assisting other hospitality businesses to expand their outdoor dining options.

Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal and eatery Origini Café will both have parklets installed during March, incorporating wicking planter boxes, reclaimed concrete blocks and re-usable bench seats made by the Newstead Men’s Shed.

”Our primary aim is to continue to support hospitality businesses in a unique and compelling way,” said Mr Leathem.

Council is producing a map to help visitors and locals alike explore new spaces for outdoor dining and entertainment. The maps will be available from hospitality businesses, Visitor Information Centres and on Council’s website through festival time and beyond.

This initiative has been made possible through a $250,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package.

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