Daniel and Andy cleaned up the signage on the town’s police station as part of a working bee last year.

THE past 18 months or so of COVID restrictions has been a time of renewal for the small community of Mirboo North, who have got behind their local traders to reinvigorate the main street – and now their efforts have been recognised in the Mainstreet Australia Awards.

Mirboo North’s Revitalising Ridgway project has been named as one of three finalists in the highly sought-after Mainstreet Australia Awards, a timely achievement as some of the final touches were recently put in place in this project, which brought in grants and funding of over $115,000 to reinvigorate the main street of Mirboo North.

Launched over 20 years ago, the Mainstreet Australia Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of the people, programs and organisations that ensure the ongoing success and survival of our main streets.

Revitalising Ridgway is a finalist in the category of Program Initiative, Activity or Event Award: With a budget over $50,000 (no special rate).

The main street is the heart and soul of any regional town, but a stroll down many main streets these days will reveal vacant shops and tired façades.

Mirboo North was no different in the autumn of 2020 – until Mirboo Country Development Inc’s (MCDI) Revitalising Ridgway group set about reversing the trend and developing a new vision for their main street, Ridgway.

The Revitalising Ridgway project recognised that the main street in Mirboo North did not reflect the vibrant community that called it home.

It had begun to look tired, ranging from overgrown garden beds, to faded paint, dated signage, and vacant shops. With the support of the town’s famously strong community, MCDI’s Revitalising Ridgway group has reinvigorated the heart of the town and helped the community to support local business during a difficult two years.

The Revitalising Ridgway project was about developing a vision for the main street and bringing it to life through lots of smaller initiatives: from planting out barrels to dusting and washing windows at working bees, from reinventing central garden beds to enhancing each business with new paint and signage, from designing a new website to developing an image library for their promotional use. The project as a whole has brought a fresh, vibrant and welcoming feel to Ridgway.

“The businesses along Ridgway support our sporting, school and community groups year in year out – through sponsorships, raffle prizes and donations,” Revitalising Ridgway coordinator Kelly McCarthy said.

“We felt that it was time for the community to support them in return, not just through buying our groceries locally, which is important, but by bringing community and business together to run a project that could not only dramatically improve the look of the main street, but also encourage collaboration between businesses and boost community spirit.

“There are a lot of people relocating post-COVID. We hope that as a result of this project our main street now better reflects our beautiful, vibrant community, and that people will decide to move here to raise families, open businesses and be a part of our community.”