Dave Edwards has a favourite spot in his yard for making calls and sending messages.
The problem is, he can’t be there all the time.
For years Mr Edwards, and many others in Bridgewater, have battled intermittent mobile service.
“Sometimes it can take 20 minutes to send a picture message,” said Mr Edwards, owner of a local farmware store.
Other examples include a swathe of missed call notifications on his phone when he reaches a spot with reception.
“It certainly impacts the business,” he said.
Farmer Stephen Brown regularly experiences similar issues.
“The best I tend to get is one bar (of service), it’s not good enough,” he said.
Bridgewater is one of a number of central Victorian areas that has missed out on federal government mobile black spot funding.
To date, three rounds of funding have been allocated, with applications for a fourth round set to open soon.
The program has become political with the state government accusing their federal counterparts of pork barrelling, by placing extra base stations in Coalition seats.
In 2016, the National Audit Office found 80 per cent of locations for new mobile phone towers were in Coalition electorates, and fewer than seven per cent were in Labor-held seats.
Your town, your voice: Find out what issues matter in other central Victorian towns
Mr Brown is part of a group of around 100 farmers who are looking to operate a silo in town after GrainCorp ceased operating the storage facility on Sebastian Road.
Some grain growers are forced to truck their product to other storage facilities, some of which were 70 kilometres away.
Mr Brown said the amount of government red tape surrounding the project had made it difficult to get off the ground thus far.
“It’s prohibitive to business. We just need a bit of support,” he said.
Mr Brown’s wife Shannon is president of the Bridgewater on Loddon development committee.
The group believes a greater variety of housing is required to boost the population of the town, which currently sits at around 500, when the wider area is included.
Satellite towns bracing for growth
Inglewood, like Bridgewater, is one of Bendigo’s satellite towns.
Both are ready for growth, they’re just not sure when – or how – it will happen.
Many thought a business park in Marong might spark that growth, reactivating train lines for passenger services.
But, much to the dismay of some in both towns, and indeed the Loddon Shire, the state government rejected the City of Greater Bendigo’s plan to forcibly purchase a section of the Carter family farm in Marong.
Most did not agree with the idea of taking land off a farming family, but they maintain a business park is important for their economies, their growth, and their opportunities.
Owner of Inglewood IGA Peter Moore said plenty of land was available down the train line, should the City of Greater Bendigo wish to widen its gaze.
Mr Moore said for a town with a population of a shade under 1000, Inglewood didn’t want for much.
Development in the town could focus on its existing strengths, he said.
“They could probably double the size of the aged care centre and go pretty close to keeping it full the whole time,” Mr Moore said.
Inglewood would also be an ideal location for the Loddon Shire’s first dementia village, according to Inglewood Community House Centre Manager, Kim Hanlon, who referenced Heathcote as a recent blueprint from which to follow.
The state government last year put $150,000 toward conducting a feasibility study for a dementia village in Heathcote.
Other priorities identified by those in the town in the lead up to the state election were funding for streetscape upgrades, a boom gate for a rail crossing on the intersection of Sullivan and Southey Streets, and improved public transport links for those looking to travel to Bendigo for employment.
Addy heads to the region
Bridgewater and Inglewood are just two stories in a central Victorian region rich in diversity.
From farming towns in the north and west to progressive communities in the south, and wine-making, apples, cattle and sheep all around, each town is unique and its residents have their own unique set of values.
To capture this – and with one eye on the looming state election on November 24 – the Bendigo Advertiser has visited, and will continue to visit, almost 30 towns in our region.
To read further on some of the issues affecting other central Victorian towns, click here.
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