Merimbula town centre gets green makeover.

Merimbula Tree planting project

It has been 2 years in the making but the town centre of Merimbula is finally getting a green makeover. The project is a joint initiative between Our Merimbula and the Merimbula Special Events Committee.

Revitalisation of the Town Centre was the top priority at the Merimbula Town Summit in 2021. Then at the Town Centre CBD planning workshop in 2022 regreening the streetscape was a project that was identified for funding as part of an overall plan to beautify the town centre.

James Smith who was the Chamber Vice President at the time has been leading the project since his return to the area in 2021. “When I came back to Merimbula after living in Melbourne I realised how harsh our main streets looked. The suburbs in Melbourne have beautiful trees lining the streets and all I could see in Merimbula was power poles. I really wanted to see the main street looks as beautiful as the rest of Merimbula so I set about trying to get some funding for the idea.”

James pitched to the Chamber Committee and the Merimbula Special Events Committee who both agreed to fund the project. President of the Chamber Nigel Ayling said, “We received some funding from Resilience NSW as part of the Bushfire Community Resilience and Recovery Fund for a project that supported community recovery and well-being including improved identity of place and environmental restoration. We thought the greening of the town centre fitted with those goals because it the existing town centre lacks a heart and we really want to bring people in to the town to congregate. “

Kirsty Byrne said “The Merimbula Special Events committee was originally set up to work on beautification projects in the town so when the Chamber approached us to get involved we were very keen to support it. We raised the money for this from events like Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

The first stage of the project has now been rolled out which includes, planting of new street trees, removal and replacement of some dead trees, and new ground covers in planter boxes around town.
Local business Pod Gardens were engaged to do the work as they have been working closely with the Bega Valley Shire Council on town projects for some time now. Owner Paula Benneian said “We have put a lot of thought and planning in to this project to ensure we get a good long term result. The main species of tree we selected were Tuckeroos (Cupaniopsis) which have proven to be very effective street trees and they are native to the east coast of Australia. They will grow to a height of between 3-5m and provide a lovely green canopy to soften the streetscape. By putting in trees that grow up they will build a canopy so you get shade and it doesn’t obstruct the views of cars, pedestrians or the shops. The other species we are using is Blueberry Ash trees which have been planted at the pedestrian on Main St to mirror the existing ones planted by Aldi and create a cohesive design.”

So far 12 new street trees have been planted including 2 outside Woolies in Main St, 2 opposite the pedestrian crossing at Aldi, 1 outside the Sea Breeze Diner on the corner of Market and Main. A further 3 have been planted at the crossing outside NAB bank and 3 strategically placed in the Hylands corner courtyard. The last 1 went in outside Westpac bank

Other work included the removal of some dead trees and shrubs around Hylands corner and Market St , with new ground covers going in planter boxes and on Hylands corner. “The ground cover is a Blue Convolvulus which will match the existing ones outside Twyford hall. It has been selected because it gives year round cover and it will cascade over the sides to cover the bricks and soften the look of the brick work,” said Ms Benneian.

Chamber President Nigel Ayling said, ” This is only stage 1 of the greening project with more to follow in the months ahead. It’s also part of our overall plan for the Town Centre which includes other projects like a complete update of Hylands Corner with a stage, lighting and area for the big Christmas tree. It’s a lot of work and we are doing it with very limited resources so it’s slow going. We have been lucky to get some funding for this project, but we always need more so if any businesses or organisations want to contribute we would love to work with them. Our Merimbula is a volunteer organisation set up to support the local business community. We are always looking for new members and volunteers.”

“I really want to thank everyone involved in making this community lead project become a reality. It just goes to show what can be done with the right motivation, some time and money.”