My Place: Mary-Teresa Ritchie

Gordon resident Mary-Teresa Ritchie is one of the first to roll up her sleeves for the Moorabool community. The ever-ready volunteer spoke to Esther Lauaki about why she’s so willing to help


What are your connections to Moorabool?

My family and I moved to Gordon at the start of 2012 following a three-year stint in Perth. I actually already had a bit of a connection to the Moorabool area – my father’s grandfather was Harry Blake, who owned and operated the Blakeville sawmill “back in the day”. The sawmill is no longer there (nor is my great grandfather), but you can go out to Blakeville and see the old site. My mother grew up in Newlyn and my siblings and I were all born in Creswick, so there is strange historical linkage to the area from both sides of my family.


How long have you lived in the area?

This is the beginning of our fifth year in Moorabool and I often describe Gordon to other people as a ‘secret paradise’. It really is glorious here and I just love the fluctuations in the weather – the unpredictability of it.


What groups do you volunteer for?

The Gordon public hall has a drop-in morning tea every Wednesday for community members, which is how I first became involved … I dropped in for morning tea … next thing I knew I was secretary of the Gordon public hall committee of management! This certainly helped me find my place in Moorabool.

The Gordon public hall has community programs, classes and events on almost every week night, and is often booked on the weekends. Recently, a new deck and storage room extension were built on the back of the hall.


How did you get into volunteering?

From this beginning, and as we live just a stone’s throw from the tennis courts, I tracked down the last remaining member of the Gordon public park committee of management, and managed to get a new committee up and running in order to rejuvenate the public park – I am no longer on that committee, but recently the first phase of the masterplan was completed when the Gordon tennis courts were resurfaced. They were almost unplayable when I moved here and are now spick and span and brand new.

The current Gordon public park committee is doing a fabulous job and is now looking at installing a small skate park and a basketball half-court – a great example of a relatively new committee doing wonderful things for the local community.


What do you love most about Moorabool people?

One of the things I love most about the people I meet in Moorabool is the amount of pride they feel for their little pockets of the shire. Most people I encounter are only too keen to tell me how much they love where they live, be it Elaine, Yendon, Blackwood, Gordon, Ballan, Bacchus Marsh, or wherever. This makes it so much easier for volunteers to work on community-based activities or improvements to existing facilities.


What about the leadership program you did?

I undertook the Moorabool shire community leadership program [last year]. One of its best aspects was the people I met and the connections I made. I also learnt a lot about myself as a person and how I like to work in the community, and in general.