Small towns are scattered across central Victoria, and while you might be tempted to keep driving when passing through, it's worth stopping for a moment to find out just what's going on. They have a lot to offer. Here is another in a Bendigo Advertiser series looking at some of our little towns with big futures.
The Wedderburn community is taking control of its own economic destiny.
A hair salon is set to return to the main street for the first time in 20 years, the fish and chip shop has reopened after closing, a new streetscape and Anzac park has been completed and the supermarket is celebrating 25 years in the town.
Community groups banded together to raise funds to help see the return of the hair salon.
Robyn Vella, one of the volunteers behind the Rejoov Salon project to the town centre. She said she is certain the hairdresser would be well visited.
"The whole community is behind it," she said. "Wedderburn College raised money for it, the Lions Club and other organisations all put money to it. It was a real community effort.
"Our goal as a community is to have it open by April for the debutante ball, the football club ball and all the events (on the calendar).
"There are hairdressers 35km away in Inglewood, Charlton or Boort but some people rely on a friend to cut hair because they can't travel. Rejoov is a place people can be pampered, socialise and improve their well being.
"This is is why central services are so important in country towns. From a school with 200 students to an ageing population that can't travel - there is a diverse population that will service the salon."
The next step for the salon now is to finish the refurbishment of the old milk bar where it will stand and finding a hairdresser and barber to rent chairs in the space.
"It's being worked on at the moment but the salon has actually got room for a couple of chairs," Ms Vella said.
"The salon will run on a rent-a-chair basis, meaning hairdressers or barbers can come in and run their own chair.
"Wedderburn is a community that backs its businesses. We support small business and I really am sure it will be supported."
Ms Vella said Wedderburn Community House is auspicing the hair salon meaning any profits made from the business could potentially flow on into other community projects.
"As the salon operates, we pay rent and essential accounts, but if it runs at a profit, the community can make decisions on what happen with funds raised through Wedderburn House," she said.
"There could be another service we need and we can use the same program and business plan to help establish the next community enterprise.
"We're a great little town. Country towns and groups are beginning to take economic developments on.
"This is a great example of how you can put economic development into the community."
Jenny Round is another Wedderburn local taking on a new business.
After working at the town's fish and chip shop for almost 30 years, Ms Round took ownership of it after the business closed down.
"It was closed for 10 months and I missed it," she said.
"Every time I passed it, it was just sad to see it closed. I wanted to get it going for the town.
"I've lived here all my life and it wasn't the same without the fish and chip shop. I think community really missed it. Except for the supermarket, this end of the street was a bit dead."
The community threw its support behind the shop when Ms Round re-opened it. On the first night she sold out of fish, re-ordered and sold out of food the next day.
"I ordered what we normally would order for the week and after first day ran out of fish," she said. "Then I got another lot in and that ran out. So I had to close the next day because I had no food left.
"We've been open a month now and it's been crazy. It's settled down a bit now but it will be busy again this weekend."
Wedderburn is a community that backs its businesses.Robyn Vella
Born and raised in Wedderburn, Ms Round has seen the town go through some lean times.
"It's a good little town. There's been some lean times but there have always been people coming up here looking for gold," she said.
"It was sad to see a few things close down but it's starting to pick up again. A few shops have opened up. It looks awful when shops are empty.
"The people that live here are really good and want the best for the town."
Leigh Randall runs the town's supermarkets and has had strong business from locals since setting up shop 25 years ago.
When the old Wedderburn supermarket shut down, Leigh seized the opportunity to move his decades old family business from Bendigo to Wedderburn.
"Randall's had been in Bendigo since the war years. It was my grandfather's and then my dad's," he said.
"At the time Bendigo was pretty tough. We went from being a supermarket to more of a convenience store because the major chains were open for far longer than we could stay open."
After buying the Wedderburn supermarket building and recovering from set up costs, the Randall family has enjoyed life in Wedderburn.
"You've got to prove yourself to the locals that you're there for the long haul, you're committed to the town and you're trying to be fair and reasonable, all those things," he said.
"For the people that can remember back to not having a supermarket (in Wedderburn), they know how bad that was and they appreciated us re-opening (the store)."
Mr Randall said he is always determined to employ local people and give them a fair go.
"You don't want to be person that hasn't given someone an opportunity," he said.
"We have a lot of young kids that we employ, it helps because you're investing in the youth of the town. They're good to have around. They can be frustrating but can also be brilliant. You know they're going to go on to bigger and better things."
The development of more businesses and community projects in the town is encouraging to Wedderburn's residents.
"We had the new streetscape done, which is beautiful, we also have a newsagency, post office, service station and hotel," Ms Vella said. "The only missing element was a hair dresser."
Mr Randall said as the town's new businesses found success it would flow through the community.
"Every business is really important," he said. "You want them to succeed and be able to employ people, it has a flow on effect.
"The hairdresser needs groceries, the delivery driver delivers to the hairdresser and then needs fuel or accommodation, we have sales reps that use the town.
"It all adds incrementally, every piece of the jigsaw comes together to keep the town viable."
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