Communities connect and celebrate

‘We have 10,000 neighbours indistinct, vibrant portside communities, and we foster strong relationships with our neighbours’, tells Trudie Larnach, Manager Environment and Community Relations, Port Waratah.

Terry McCauley of the Islington Village Community Group agrees. ‘We meet with Port Waratah every quarter to hear about their operational activities, and they have a dashboard on their website so we can see what improvements they’re making. We provide community feedback on their operations and the company’s perception within our community. They actively support our annual Throsby Big Brunch in Islington Park, and helped us purchase a musical installation for the playground’, he says.

The Throsby Big Brunch is coordinated and hosted by the combined portside community groups of Tighes Hill, Islington, and Wickham. It takes place in Islington Park on the last Sunday of October each year, ‘come rain, hail, or shine’, and every home is invited via letterbox drop.

‘The idea for the big brunch was born about ten years ago. We share food and talk to each other’, says McCauley.

‘The original brunch was bring your own table or picnic rug and set up under the beautiful canopy of the fig trees that line Maitland Rd. But it’s since morphed into a more sophisticated setting with tables covered with white tablecloths and decorated with beautiful flowers that come from people’s gardens’, he tells.

 ‘It’s a wonderful opportunity to disengage with the world and connect with fellow locals. To meet new people and get to know your neighbours’.

And there’s entertainment too.

‘Each year Neil Simpson, an amazingly talented accordion player, provides entertainment for about three hours. We’ve had a ukulele group with players from all over the country, and a Punch and Judy show. One year we combined with the Islington Art Market. We test different ideas each year.’

Over the years Islington Park itself has undergone significant improvements aesthetically and local residents have also raised funds to purchase a range of equipment.

‘We’ve worked with local council and as a group, we have had a say in what we want in our park. Initially, there was a focus on physical play equipment, but we also wanted to add sensory experiences too, to provide an alternative activity for those kids with physical challenges or special needs. We got creative and found a 12 key Marimba. It’s like a big xylophone. We had it installed just in time for the 2017 Big Brunch’, he says.

‘Community groups like ours find it challenging to raise funds for large projects like this’, says McCauley, ‘But Port Waratah is active in our community. They’re not just about coal getting to the port, loading it onto the ships and then sending it overseas. It’s more than that. They get involved and they give back.’

Throsby Big Brunch supports our portside community neighbours to help people connect with each other and their surrounds.

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