10 Year Celebration

Published Jan 7, 2024 by Lindy Nieuwenhuizen


At our 10-year anniversary last year, we had some fun presenting a vision for Greater Shepparton 10 years from now – in 2034. The following is an extract.

There’s a Greek proverb that says A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

In Shepparton we know how to plant trees, and we have some old men… but more importantly we have men and women of all ages with the patience and generosity to want to see business grow and our region thrive. The past decade has shown how much can be achieved so as C4GS enters its second decade lets lift our gaze a little higher beyond 2024 to 2034…

And we begin with the obvious… In 2034…

A 30-year-old Josh Rachele is captaining the Crows for another season. Grace Egan has stepped up to a new leadership role and will oversee her sister Holly at Richmond’s AFLW.

On the international stage, Garang and Alou Kuol’s impressive performance at the 2024 Paris Olympics sees them well established in the Socceroos’ starting line-up for the 2034 FIFA World Cup. Our list of current and emerging Matildas continues to grow, inspired by the 2023 World Cup and Shepparton’s Courtnee Vine. Harriet Gall is a well-established Diamond, and from athletics to zurkhaneh, local male and female athletes are featuring in squads and on the podium with incredible frequency.

We celebrated our basketball stadium’s 50th birthday by knocking it down and replacing with a larger, up to date Sports and Events Centre. The impact well and truly exceeded hopes and forecast ROI. Home grown members of the Boomers, Opals, and Falcons are taking to the courts at the 2032 Brisbane Olympic games, and international Olympic squads were eager to base themselves in Shepparton for their final preparations.

The centre is now a year- round hub of activity. All ages and abilities flock to participate in local indoor basketball, netball and badminton competitions – alongside pickle ball, futsal, handball, volleyball and rock climbing (following a last-minute design tweak). We are levelling the playing field for elite regional talent with national codes, clubs and scouts prioritising Shepparton in their schedule of training camps, selection trials and pre-season friendlies.

With a steady pipeline of exceptional athletes making their way into national and international teams, many will remark that there must be something special in our water – and they are right!

The El Nino years of mid 2020s, reminded everyone of the strategic advantage of reliable water resources. After the initial skirmishes of the mid-2020s, it was finally acknowledged that our region has one of the highest concentrations of water expertise anywhere in the nation – not just irrigation and urban, but also environmental and cultural. Our GBCMA, GMW and GVW, Water Leadership Forum and first nations partners provided the much-needed leadership to deliver a sensible outcomes-focused Murray Darling Basin Plan on time and in full with no net loss of GRP or employment but there are some new industries, crops, commodities and technology.

Northern Victoria is once again the global mecca for water management with endless examples of smart infrastructure and operating nous that are trusted to balance environmental, cultural, industrial, and farming needs.

Rubicon’s global domination continues as nations again look to Australia to provide solutions for their water challenges. Local pipe manufacturers and irrigation companies continue to respond to the changed and changing needs and their innovation is leading the way at home and abroad.

Greater Shepparton’s seed, variety and genetics sectors have doubled in value to more than $4 billion, with an enviable success rate that has played a key role in enabling the region to maintain its status as Australia’s Food Bowl.

This growth is matched by our rural supplies sector. Ag, tech, and business graduates aspire to start their careers in Greater Shepparton because of the unmatched opportunity to work alongside Australia’s most progressive, innovative, and wise farmers, orchard managers, manufacturers, food scientists, and packaging and supply chain experts.

North Shepp has become the ‘tyre kicker’ heaven – a year-round field day showcasing farm tech, automation, and machinery with a growing mix of autonomous, EV and hydrogen options.

Downstream, Noumi, GV Creamery, Saputo, SPC, Unilever, Pental and Bega consolidated their processing and manufacturing to northern Victoria’s manufacturing epicentre, while national and international brands like Chobani, Simplot and others are trying to move as quickly as possible to postcodes 3630, 3616, 3644 and 3620. As a result, competition for industrial sites in our manufacturing clusters of Tatura, Kyabram, Cobram, Shepparton, and Mooroopna is through the roof.

For many, the initial catalyst was the steady gentrification of Derrimut, Campbellfield and Dandenong, and the impact of Brisbane’s increasingly erratic weather on production and supply chains.

But by the mid-2020s the Millennials overtook the Baby Boomers. Scanning a QR code to check product provenance or validate manufacturers’ ESG credentials became the norm and clean green supply chains became the new battleground.

Greater Shepparton’s locally generated renewable energy ensured local manufacturers and freight operators hit their 2030 net zero targets with ease. And Greater Shepparton’s concentration of packaging and waste businesses was the catalyst for clever circular economy collaborations and innovations that ensure local manufacturers continue to impress their regulators and shareholders, and delight their Millennial consumers.

And nowhere was this more obvious that Special K* which emerged as Australia’s most successful renewable energy manufacturing precinct. Special K’s long-term resident, SPC, remains an icon of Australia food manufacturing, but has also become a key partner in the Shepparton Power Company

Obviously with a thriving economy, there are more employees commuting to work and more freight on our roads.

Local truck sales continue to grow in volume and value, ensuring we retain our status as home to more than a quarter of Victoria’s heavy vehicles. Sophisticated supply chains are humming thanks to local training options, and reliable digital and road connectivity.  Gamers and gaming controllers are a common site in our automated warehouses, on farms and orchards.

There has been equivalent growth in our support industries with Greater Shepparton now a key centre for training and servicing electric, hydrogen and traditional heavy freight vehicles, and ‘re-tuning’ AI controlled robots, autonomous vehicles, and systems.

No where is the growth in freight activity more obvious than the steady stream of B-triples that glide like swans around the gentle arc of the Greater Shepparton Ring Road. After losing the partial funding for a bypass in 2023, we regrouped and successfully negotiated a ring road linking the by-pass with an upgraded Doyles Road.

Affectionately known as the Shepparton doughnut, the ring road has transformed freight movement across Victoria, the Basin and within Shepparton’s CBD. Shepparton remains the most important intersection in south east Australia, and the southern gateway in and out of the MDB.

Inside the ring road, our recreational tracks and trails are now matched by the city’s extensive network of commuter paths. Bike use rivals the Netherlands and has fundamentally changed access and participation for all ages and abilities in work, sport and the arts.

The dreaded chaos of school drops off and pickups are gone, and parents and carers are no longer juggling work commitments with after school and school holiday taxi duties. Importantly all ages are thriving in a community that supports their independence, inclusion, and participation. It’s no surprise that physical and mental health and wellbeing indicators have improved across the board.

The mobility transformation took time.

It began with our successful launch of Australia’s first cycling school bus chaperoned by the Shepparton MAMILS.

Our annual Minecraft hackathon continues to engage local kids in the design of their city, and their ideas feed directly into our annual infrastructure planning and advocacy. A decade on and our first hackathon participants are entering their 20s – they proudly point to the impact they had on the design of their city and eager to build a career and life in their hometown.

Cycling, scooter and segway city and cultural tours depart regularly from the train stop at the foot of SAM.

Arriving hourly on the Shepparton-Seymour fast shuttle, our visitors first views of Shepparton are the iconic Art Museum, our lake, and the transformed city skyline.

The transformation of Shepparton’s CBD is obvious in the demand for Greater Shepparton’s stunning above shop apartments with their Goulburn River views, and in the growth of apartment living across the city.

From penthouses to affordable student accommodation, the city is now a vibrant, safe, and active centre 24/7 – and our retailers and restaurants are thriving.

There has been an explosion in public street art that is as diverse as our community, and proudly supported by Pental and its parent company.

We have applied our love of sports to our support of the arts. Just as we don’t expect all sports to play at the same facilities, we have developed a network of spaces on both sides of the river that are nurturing extraordinary musicians, performers, designers and creatives with a steady stream of local artists featuring in state and national exhibitions, festivals and as headline artists at home and overseas.

Following the education rethink of the late 2020s, Greater Shepparton has successfully reinvented the city and surrounds as one big campus thanks to the collaborative and visionary leadership from our secondary schools, universities, and TAFEs and industry.

We made our limited university bricks and mortar our strength.

We took the European education ideas shared at a breakfast way back in 2023, and carved out much sought after programs that place students in business while working their way through industry-curated learning and training.

Special K is now one of Australia’s leading manufacturing research, development, and innovation precinct. We are a globally recognised smart city with our automation and innovation labs for health, manufacturing, logistics and circular economy attracting global philanthropy, research funders and PhD students like moths to the flame. And we have one of the highest per capita rates of entrepreneurship anywhere in the nation and indigenous businesses are thriving.

Meanwhile Shepparton is fast becoming Australia’s leading regional health training and research hub. Our top medical teaching institutions are integrated into the fully-redeveloped GV Health hospital campus, and the new GV Institute of Applied Health Learning is creating seamless pathways from high-school to countless healthcare careers.

And our finance and legal sectors are expanding exponentially in response to the influx of investment capital and the steady stream of successful commercialisations and new ideas that need to be protected.

We have retained our status as one of Australia’s most culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

We remain the home of Victoria’s first and oldest mosque, and through our arts, events and sport, global research partnerships and industry collaboration we proudly remind people that more than half the world lives in Shepparton, and we are so much better for it.

And finally, the Munarra Centre has become a beacon of Indigenous knowledge and learning.

The partnerships with industry, community, and our education sector, has ensured more than 60,000 years of knowledge has infused our thinking and strengthened our ways forward. The heritage walking track from Cummeragunja to Mooroopna is an award-winning cultural tourism experience and on the bucket list for locals and international visitors.

Yorta Yorta language is taught in local schools and has provided a much needed expanded and more relevant vocabulary to describe the region’s landscape, seasons and our adjustment to a changing climate.

Next year, in 2035, we will celebrate Shepparton’s 175th birthday. Looking back over the last decade, we appear to have done a Bradbury – skating through the pack of flashy, highly fancied regional cities to emerge the strongest, fastest, and smartest with just a little cunning and cheek… and enough in the tank to keep our momentum going for years to come.

Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

CEO, Committee for Greater Shepparton


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