Feature Articles

The Ashby Hall after its upgrade. Image: George Kriflik.

Future-proofing the Ashby Hall

Built in the 1990s by the community for the community, the rustic-looking Ashby Hall now captures and stores its own electricity.
This upgrade was made possible by a grant obtained by three Ashby Heights residents, Barbara Winters, Linda Jenner, and George Kriflik.
George is a retired engineer who recently joined the Board of the Ashby Hall Reserve Crown Land Manager (CLM) as the maintenance manager and has been overseeing the project.
The CLM’s Deputy Chairperson, Barbara Winters, explains the reasons for the grant application: “The solar system with battery is connected to the grid, so we can start cashing in, or at least start saving money. It will also help the Ashby Rural Fire Brigade and the community in general to have access to power in case of emergencies when the mains power is disrupted. Last not but least, it will help us reduce CO2 emissions as a community and we’re very proud of that.”
The community was given a chance to vote on the grant application via a poll on the local community Facebook group, the Ashby Herald. Out of all of those who voted, 77 out of 350 group members, 75 locals voted in favour. Just two residents were unsure or wanted more information. Barbara also did vox pop interviews on camera during the first Ashby Markets since the pandemic lockdowns and all those who were interviewed were strongly in favour.
While their bid for Kevin Hogan’s Stronger Communities Programme (Round 6) was unsuccessful, the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR) approved the grant application on June 7 2021 after IKEA agreed to fund the initiative as part of the Strengthening Rural Communities Program.
All it took for installation was a few minor modifications to the Hall’s interior. This could not have come at a better time now the last two community markets had to be cancelled due to the pandemic and it’s unsure whether the September markets can go ahead. Normally the Ashby Hall Reserve gets its income from the popular Bush Café and Markets on the third Sunday of each month.

Ashby Heights in particular was hit hard during the Black Summer bushfires and the Ashby Hall Reserve plays an important role in bringing the Ashby and Ashby Heights communities together. The venue has a free book & DVD swap and playground and is regularly used for picnics and barbecues, tennis or basketball games and yoga classes, weddings and funerals, RFS meetings and of course the workshops, art classes and working bees of the Ashby Nature Discovery project that kicked off earlier this year.
By reducing the running cost of the Hall, there will be more money left for ongoing maintenance and community events.