Strathbogie Shire Council

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Upgrades officially opened at Southern Aurora Memorial Gardens

New mural artworks and other upgrades at the Southern Aurora Memorial Gardens in Violet Town have been officially opened.

The Southern Aurora Memorial Garden project was co-funded through Federal Government’s Stronger Communities Programme Round 6, the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s Supporting Local Communities Grant, the Victorian Government’s Community Crime Prevention Programand Strathbogie Shire Council.

Painted by local Benalla artist Tim Bowtell, the two murals depict the Southern Aurora tragedy which took place in Violet Town in 1969 when a head-on train crash occurred just after 7am.

Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines said the story of the Southern Aurora train crash was one of tragic loss-of-life, but also one of the bravery and community spirit of the people of Violet Town more than 50 years ago, who jumped in to help without a moment of question.

“That community resilience and spirit is still there to see in Violet Town today and this mural is a testament to that,” she said.

“The Southern Aurora Memorial Gardens has provided a place for people to remember that horrible day 52 years ago and pay tribute to those efforts.

“The new murals by Tim Bowtell are a powerful way of telling the story of what happened on that day. The theme of Helping Hands is so important when remembering just how many lives were saved.

“These murals will ensure generations to come have a way of understanding the Southern Aurora tragedy, which is so important as it fades from living memory.”

Strathbogie Shire Council Mayor Cr Chris Raeburn said Council was proud to support the fantastic tribute to the Southern Aurora tragedy.

“These gardens are something the community is incredibly proud of and Council was more than happy to support the addition of murals to the site,” Cr Raeburn said.

“The incredible murals have already drawn so many people into Violet Town with many stopping by to view the artworks and pay their respects.”

ARTC’s Victoria and South Australia Projects General Manager Ed Walker said the development of the memorial gardens and mural will provide an appropriate legacy to the disaster.

“ARTC are proud to support this important community driven project through funding and rail materials for the project, which included reclaimed track and sleepers,” Mr Walker said.

“Initiatives such as this show the community’s true spirt, and the creation of these murals is a testament to the resilience and character of the town in memory of this tragic event.”

The Southern Aurora Memorial Garden has an overall theme of Helping Handsto acknowledge the way people came forward to help each other during the tragedy.

The gardens are a place of reflection, calm, remembering and acknowledgment into the future.

The Victorian Government provided funding for fencing bollards, lighting and fencing of the site.

The Victorian Minister for Crime Prevention Natalie Hutchins said upgrades like this ensured locals and visitors alike could enjoy everything the Violet Town community had to offer and feel safe in the process.

Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Crime Prevention Frank McGuire said, “we’re putting measures in place to prevent crime in the first place and creating spaces in the community that feel safe and inviting for everyone to enjoy.”


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