Plea for toilet in Goorambat

By Simon Ruppert

Goorambat, ‘the small town with the big art’, is becoming increasingly known as ‘the busy town with no toilets’.

As the first stop on the Silo Art Trail out of Benalla, the town has been punching above its weight when it comes to visitor numbers.

However, unless the pub is open, or a volunteer is manning the Mechanics Hall, visitors to the town are being caught short.

Some are simply taking their money up the road to Devenish, which does have toilet facilities, others are going behind buildings and even door-knocking to find a kind local who will let them use a toilet.

Goorambat and District Community Committee member Ann-Marie Greenway said none of these were a suitable long-term option.

‘‘During the last two years, leading up to Wall to Wall 2019 we estimate that we had 60000 people coming through Goorambat to see the art,’’ Ms Greenway said.

‘‘And we expect to average about 50000 people per year moving forward.

‘‘So we plan to have 50000 people visit next year and we don’t have a public toilet for any of them to use.

‘‘The people who run the pub have been very good letting visitors use their facilities when they’re open.

‘‘But that’s only five afternoons per week and it costs them in terms of cleaning and maintenance.

‘‘A lot of people living down the Main St have had their doors knocked on asking to use the toilet.

‘‘And people here are so kind they often let people use their toilet. But they shouldn’t have to.

‘‘At present we have an 88-year-old gentleman who comes across and sits under our shelter for about three mornings a week.

‘‘He sells a few souvenirs and opens the Mechanic Institute for people to use the toilet.

‘‘It is wonderful of him to do that, but it’s not something you would expect an elderly gentleman to do in this cold weather.’’

Ms Greenway said unfortunately community members had also found tourists urinating on doorsteps and at the back of the church.

‘‘I just find it odd that we are the only town in the Benalla area with no public toilets,’’ Ms Greenway said.

Ms Greenway said the community had been working with Benalla Rural City Council and State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan to try and get something sorted out.

‘‘One of the problems we have is that we have space for toilets, but it is on DELWP-owned land,’’ she said.

‘‘They have been out and had a quick look and said the site is suitable but they don’t have the money to put toilets in.

‘‘We spoke to council about funding toilets on the DELWP land, but they won’t put something there as they don’t own the land.

‘‘So there are a few things that need to be ironed out.

‘‘But I don’t know why council don’t just install a portable toilet in the mean-time, with local people servicing and cleaning it.’’

The community of Goorambat has a variety of builders, carpenters and plumbers, for example, who Ms Greenway said had put their hands up to help, as and when finances were made available to build a permanent toilet.

While that is being addressed, and given that the community is aware that might take some time, they are asking if anyone could donate a portable toilet to use in the meantime.

■Anyone who can help out with a portable toilet can phone Ann-Marie Greenway on 0417 196 368.