Community Engagement Stories

Stories of Community from our beautiful little corner of the world – Victoria, Australia.

REDfusion Studios is based in Baw Baw Shire, a vibrant, growing region that affords myriad adventures throughout the seasons in breathtakingly stunning environs. In spare moments we cycle, run, walk, kayak, take road trips and attend events along the way, enjoying picnics and visits to cafes, pubs and restaurants – so much to see and do!

We are passionate about Community and this page will feature stories of events, people and adventures in Victoria, with plans to stretch into other regions of our amazing country, as opportunities open to us.

Snowfest Gippsland 2022

When we got wind that Snowfest Gippsland was to return for 2022, we instantly knew that REDfusion just had to be a part of it!  Like children playing truant, we snuck out of the office to witness the arrival of snow-laden trucks and watch as Warragul CBD was transformed into a winter wonderland. The organisers and sponsors of Snowfest Gippsland did an absolutely incredible job in bringing a frozen chunk of Mount Baw Baw to Warragul for four hours of community snow play.

Approximately 15,000 fun-seekers thronged to Snowfest to indulge in a mid-winter’s eve of unsurpassing fun; the atmosphere fairly crackled with excitement. Mickey Mouse and Frozen’s Elsa and Olaf were a few of the celebrities to be seen mingling with their adoring fans and were only too happy to pose for photos.

Snow play, craft, an animal petting nursery filled with the cutest bundles of fur and feathers, face painting, jumping castle, marshmallows toasted to perfection or set ablaze over the Scouts’ fire pits and ice-blue mounds of fairy floss kept the more docile and youngest happily occupied. 

The adventurous revellers took the opportunity to climb a rock wall and abseil gracefully (and not so gracefully) down to terrafirma, boisterously participate in laser tag and pat a snake of the non-venomous variety, that doubled as its intrepid handler’s very own neck warmer.

Australian Mountainboarders and Extreme Bikers wowed their appreciative audiences and defied the law of gravity with their amazing demonstrations – we may have been just a smidge jealous of their athleticism. It was really great to see so many hands shoot up when given the opportunity to participate in activities; we were torn between hands up or cameras up.

There was dancing in the street to wonderful live music, with one little fella entertaining the crowd with his enviable dance moves, howling huskies snuggled warm in their furry snowsuits, delicate snowflakes drifting aimlessly at the mercy of the breeze, displays by CFA, SES, Victoria Police and Snowfest sponsors, an abundant selection of food and drink to warm hands and rumbling tummies and so, so much more!

Our beanies go off to the community leaders and personalities brave enough to take the plunge into the icy depths of the dunking tank, all in the excellent cause of raising funds for Baw Baw Food Relief. There was a large crowd eager to cheer on those about to be dropped from the precarious perch – hilarity and generosity were in equal measure.

Then, as eyelids drooped and the chill of a Gippsland winter night settled in, Civic Park came ablaze with fountains of myriad colour cascading into the inky depths of the night sky.  The firework display was absolutely spectacular and a great way to close the night’s festivities with a BANG!

Snowfest Gippsland organisers deserve a standing ovation, with demands resounding through the streets of, “Encore in 2023!”

2022’s Snowfest Gippsland was so much fun! Who would have guessed that Mount Baw Baw (or a frozen portion of it, at least) would visit Warragul’s CBD for an evening of fantastic family and community excitement, entertainment and activity?

Capturing it with our cameras was a great evening of community involvement for us.  A huge call out to the organisers and sponsors for pulling off this event! You can see for yourself why we are waxing lyrical – our video captured it all.

Our Five Musketeers – Casey, Oliver, Isaac, Alex and Ethan – took a break from brandishing swords and issuing the challenge of, “On guard” to enthusiastically share their favourite experiences of Snowfest.

The friends came for the fun of it, the activities, the good times and the snow. For at least one of these fantastic, friendly boys it was their first snow experience. Fairy floss was heralded as a favourite and there was unanimous consent that the snow pit was great fun.

We think the boys summed it up perfectly with, “Everything’s amazing here!  Everything!”

For four year old Coby, an accurate snowball throw that landed in the pocket of his Nanny (Robyn) was terrific fun.  Coby was rightly proud of his newly purchased neon dinosaur light sword that made dino noises to boot. REDfusion’s Chris, agreed that it would have been a big mistake to have left the event without one!

For Coby, Laura, Kevin and Robyn, it was the snow that brought them to Snowfest, with the huskies getting a special mention as a favourite attraction.

This family’s exuberant sense of humour and joy in being together shone forth, along with Coby’s sword, of course!

Sumit, Sonia, Justin and Sahib were having a lot of fun at Snowfest. When we caught up with the family, they’d met some very cool animals at Gumbuya World and enjoyed the petting zoo but meeting the huskies was their favourite.

We asked what brought them to Snowfest, and Sumit related how one of the boys said that all the friends at school were going and so, they just had to! Sounds like a good enough reason to us!

Tara, Penny, Ricky and Caleb chose Snowfest over going to the footy, with what sounded like particular encouragement from Penny in making the decision.  I guess you can go to the footy anytime but Snowfest is a once a year extravaganza not to be missed!

With great delight, Ricky said throwing snow at his Mum was the best fun.  As they’d not all been at the event for very long, the list of favourite experiences would, no doubt, have become longer as the evening wore on and the family enjoyed Snowfest’s attractions.

This family had some wicked dance moves that we were only too happy to capture on film.

ANZAC Weekend Sale Airshow 2022

The ANZAC weekend and beautiful Autumn weather of South East Australia provided a fantastic opportunity to belatedly celebrate RAAF’s 100 years of serving Australia and the global community.

A crowd of enthusiastic aviation buffs exulted in static and aerial displays of aircraft encompassing the history of Australia’s Air Force.  A walk down RAAF memory lane included the history-shaping Wirraway, Winjeel, Sabre and CT4. We then time warped to goggle at the impressive C-27J Spartan and jaw dropping aerobatics of the amazing Roulettes in their highly manoeuvrable, sleek PC21s.

As always, Paul Bennett stunned his audience; who doesn’t love spine tingling aerial stunts performed before their eyes?  It takes nerves of steel and a great amount of skill to put aircraft through such extreme paces.

Aircraft from around the world provided added interest – the T-28 Trojan, Nanchang, Edge 540 and Gruman Avenger were all present to be admired.  The Armed Forces Museum was open and free to all Airshow ticket holders.

The AV8 RAAF Band, Sale City Bank and Maffra Municipal Band played to a different tune than the pilots, with feet firmly planted on the ground, providing fantastic musical entertainment.  

Follow ANZAC Weekend Sale Airshow on their socials Instagram and Facebook pages to engage with this excellent community event.

ANZAC Weekend Sale Airshow 2022

The family enjoyed many aspects of their day at the Sale Airshow.  Adults and children, alike, enthusiastically shared favourite aspects of the day, which included the opportunity to climb aboard big aircraft, watching the aerobatics, and, “The Plane Going BOOM,” jointly described as, “A big bang” and “Plane flying through fire.”  The stunts and visual simulations were, indeed, spectacular!  We shouldn’t omit the highlight of, “Getting Stuff!”  Everyone likes getting stuff, after all!  

The Johnson family are self-confessed aviation enthusiasts, who have a close connection with Australia’s Royal Airforce, with two children members of RAAF cadets.

It was so great to see families enjoying time together, taking an avid interest in the RAAF, past and future.

Graeme has had an interesting career – spanning time at a radio station, where he can brag of having a coffee with Slim Dusty, to time being ferried in a ‘chopper’, whilst working for Santos Ltd.

Has Graeme always been an aviation boffin?  Absolutely!  In the 1970s and 80s, when RAAF East Sale hosted airshows, Graeme would be in attendance.  Graeme said that he hadn’t seen a crowd at a Sale event as large as was in attendance at this year’s Airshow, the calibre was just that good!

We agree with Graeme’s assessment that, “Everyone loves aviation!”

Greg and Don decided the Sale Airshow afforded a good day out, amidst aircraft, and they weren’t disappointed.  They have been to four or so shows held by RAAF East Sale, in years gone by, and so had more than inkling of what was in store.

The Pitts Special and Dream Machine, “two fast ones,” were particular favourites of Don and Greg on the day.  Their insightful knowledge of aircraft was obvious and they were only too happy to share it with us; for instance the reason that the Torpedo bomber’s wings fold up is to accommodate storage below deck on aircraf carriers.

When questioned on why people should attend the airshow, Don said, “The show was excellent entertainment, where you see things you don’t see any other time.”  Greg believed it to be, “A well prepared, good show and well worth a look.”

We look forward to crossing paths with these two gentlemen at a future airshow and to glean more aircraft knowledge from them.

Warragul Parkrun 7th Birthday

Warragul parkrun celebrated its seventh birthday on Saturday, with an ‘S for Seven’ theme. Word reached the South Pole and Santa hoofed it over for an unseasonal visit; superheroes, with capes flying, interrupted their saving of the planet; sunflowers waved in the sunshine and more than a few other ‘S’, as in ‘Sus’, characters joined the celebratory run.  It was a simply sensational Saturday sight!

Each Saturday at 8am at Brooker Park, Warragul, people from upwards of five years old and with varying abilities, meet to walk or run the 5km parkrun route; the course is generally flat but does have an uphill rise to provide extra challenge for participants’ leg muscles.

Saturday’s birthday event had 90 participants which included three first timers – Carolyn, Clare and Julian. 12 personal bests were achieved by Andrew, Bianca, Bradley, Emily, Ethan, Erik, Hugo, Kim, Marley, Peter, Xavier and Zane.  Marley completed her 25th parkrun, Michael and Luke their 100th and Lea achieved 100 volunteer gigs. Parkrun loves to celebrate all achievements!

Warragul parkrun really does have a great community spirit and resolve to be inclusive and encouraging, giving people the opportunity for social interaction, exercise and serving others, as part of volunteer teams or organising the Warragul event during the year.  To top it off, it’s FREE!!  After each week’s event, you can extend the social time and rehash the morning’s run while grabbing a cuppa at Warragul Country Club.

If running with friends once per week isn’t enough to satisfy your restless feet, you can hit the road on Good Friday with the Baw Baw Runners Fun Run at Rokeby and then the Drouin Golf Club Mother’s Day Classic 4km / 8km Fun Run – both great events to raise money for worthy causes, where you’ll most likely see many of the regular Warragul parkrunners.

In the words of Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Runner and Author:

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

With the encouragement of her daughter, Mel, Cheryl started participating in Warragul’s parkrun the very second week it was up and running (pun intended).  At the start, Cheryl would walk the course but, in time, she built up her fitness to run it consistently each week. Parkrun has become an important, integral part of Cheryl’s routine and she is committed to making the run every week that life permits her to.

Cheryl’s goal to not miss any runs was rudely interrupted last year due to a battle with cancer but, with determination, she worked her way back to being able to run the entire 5km; this week was her third in a row.  Statistically, Cheryl holds the record for completing the most events of anyone from Warragul parkrun – 251  out of 304, with a grand total of 274 total parkrun events completed. What an achievement and testimony to her resolve!  Cheryl gives back to parkrun not only with her consistency and enthusiasm, but by volunteering – her tally sits at 29 official acts of service. 

For Cheryl, parkrun has many benefits:  “It’s social, gets you out of bed on a Saturday morning and running the 5km is an achievement that you feel good after, and you’ve earned that cup of coffee and breakfast.”

Cheryl’s goal is to keep up with parkrun and get back to doing it every week. Such a great story of victory over illness and a positive attitude to life.

Chris, our interviewer extraordinaire, managed to glean from Les Corson that he had Cornflakes for breakfast!  It’s the attention to small things that we love about Chris!

On a more serious note, when asked about the history of parkrun in Les’ life, a very interesting story emerged.  Les’ original involvement was in Launceston, where he ran with a group who were organising and bringing parkrun to Launceston in 2012.  One of the group was from England and knew of parkrun and so introduced the concept to the others.  In 2013, when Les moved to Australia (oops, the Mainland), he ran with a group in Wonthaggi, who were, ultimately, instrumental in getting Inverloch’s parkrun on the go in 2014. So many participants owe a huge thanks to Les for the role he has played in Launceston and Inverloch’s parkruns.

The appeal of parkrun to Les is its simple concept – all you have to do is turn up on a Saturday morning, it’s free and all you have to bring is your barcode. 

Les said of parkrun, “It’s a good social aspect, particularly when moving to a new area, join your local parkrun and you start to meet people you can run with or just find people you like.”  We couldn’t agree more!

Lea started participating in parkrun on health advice to ‘do something for herself’, after suffering a breakdown approximately seven years ago. As Lea loved to run, parkrun was a perfect choice and she’s not looked back since (except perhaps to see how many participants are trailing behind??).  Her vivacity and love of life bubbles over in conversation.

To Lea’s credit and representative of her community spirit, she has clocked over 100 acts of service as a parkrun volunteer.  Equally impressive, is her taking part in almost 200 parkrun events – the math tells us Lea has run the equivalent of Warragul to Sydney.

Not to be outdone by her Mum, starting on her fourth birthday when she received her barcode, Lea’s daughter holds the record of being the Youngest Junior 10er Worldwide.  That’s something truly special to have attained!

To sum up, Lea says, “I love the group of people we’ve got at Warragul because it’s really so inclusive, yet varied. We’ve got kids, we’ve got families, we’ve got people of varied abilities, we’ve got people I wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise, which is really cool.”  

We think you are really cool, Lea, and your joy in serving others is such an encouragement.

Whilst Paul is not (yet) a member of parkrun, he has participated in Saturday morning events since settling in Warragul five weeks ago.  Paul has been a bit of a nomad these past five years, travelling Australia with a caravan in tow.

As a result of a motorbike accident 36 years ago, Paul lost a leg and almost his life.  After five months in hospital, the paramedics who attended Paul at the accident site couldn’t believe that he was alive.  Basically, Paul died and with his characteristic humour, said that after being jump-started and having oil put in him, he got better.

Locals regularly sight Paul, with the aid of crutches, traversing the streets, clocking up a remarkable amount of kilometres. Paul’s daughter got him onto the Strava app and so Paul is able to keep track of distances achieved – last week he cracked 36km.

As Paul’s ‘top speed’ is about three kilometres per hour, he jumped the starter’s gun at Saturday’s run by half an hour, calling it, “cheating.” We would call it resourcefulness and having an admirable degree of tenacity.  Hopefully, parkrun are happy to time him in days to come.

Will he officially join parkrun?  Most likely, as it’s free and he only lives 1.2km away!

Hallora Marathon Festival 2021

Dan Pratt, a native of Hallora, was inspired to found this annual event in 2015 after his close friend, Sarah, was diagnosed with leukaemia and Pa with cancer. The Hallora Marathon Festival raises funds to support Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s research into finding a cure for cancer, a cause close to Dan’s heart.  

Participants – walking, running or cycling, anywhere from 1km to 42km – get to experience the ups and downs of exercising, quite literally, as hills are unavoidable in Baw Baw Shire!  When sweat isn’t dripping into one’s eyes, the scenery is beyond beautiful; lush green paddocks with plodding, cud-chewing spectators urging participants to moo-ve faster, hazy blue mountains beckoning in the distance; wetlands with ducks waddling alongside and frogs frenetic in croaking their encouragement.

The REDfusion team kept pace throughout the day with the participants (perhaps with just a little bit of combustion engine powered cheating) to capture the camaraderie, competitiveness, energy and, finally, elation in crossing the finish line.

High Fives’ and smiles are the order of the day!

For more videos from The Hallora Marathon Festival, follow their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Hallora Marathon Festival 2021

There are a number of reasons why Tony Richards enjoys participating in The Hallora Marathon Festival, including it being a great local event organised by Dan and Laura, with a fundraising aspect; opportunity to connect with the community whilst enjoying the landscape, coming out from the hills into the towns, and sharing the experience with friends and family. Tony reiterated how well-organised the event is, with great traffic management and a lot of care and attention to detail.

Generally, Tony’s motivation to run is not ‘running to time’ but, rather, to have fun and enjoy the experience.  However, the Hallora Marathon provided the opportunity for Tony to qualify for the Two Bays Trail Run of 58km in January, 2022.  Tony had to complete the 42km in under four hours 30 minutes and he smashed it with the time of four hours 20 minutes.  

Potentially, Tony’s time could have been even more impressive but, due to a mishap with his water bottle, he had insufficient electrolytes that resulted in excruciating cramping.  Thankfully, at Drouin, two amazing volunteers, Jackie and Sally, were able to provide care, enabling Tony to finish the course, for which he expressed extreme gratitude for these angels!

What were his favourite memories of the day?  Tony said being able to stop (yes, they actually stopped running) and say, “Gidday, Dave” to a 72 year old (or thereabouts) veteran of more than 370 marathons; crossing the finish line to see family waiting and then relaxing on the footy oval, enjoying the big blue sky.

Tony sums up the appeal of the day so eloquently, “Great vibe, positive atmosphere and enjoying the countryside with friends and family.”

Amy Hewitt considers herself a novice runner who has always wanted to run a marathon.  Supporting the local community and worthy causes is important to Amy and she determined that her first marathon would be Hallora, where she could run with comrades from Baw Baw Runners and the wider community.  

In the lead-up to The Hallora Marathon Festival, Amy included walking an hour a day throughout August, in support of ‘PAWGUST’, a fundraiser for Guidedogs Australia and later ramped up her training with running the 30km track between Hallora and Warragul, fine tuning her pacing and endurance for the 42km.

Amy set herself a goal of finishing in five hours and she came so close with five hours 15 minutes; what a remarkable achievement!  Amy plans on commemorating this with her first tattoo, something she’s planned to do for some time, but waited for the right milestone to celebrate.  Thanks to a friend, and as a surprise, Amy’s close friends and dogs were at the finish line, helping her past the post, and this was a huge socialising milestone for her rescue Border Collie.

When asked if she would recommend the Hallora Marathon, it turns out Amy has already been doing just that!  Amy enthusiastically listed reasons for her recommendation, including:  amazing vibes; being a local event; hugely supportive with knowing the Baw Baw runners; everyone was happy and encouraging each other with ‘high fives’.  Amy’s summary, in a nutshell:  “It was just so good!”

What’s next on Amy’s bucket list for marathon achievements?  The Great Southern Endurance Run’s 50 mile event and then GSER’s 100 mile event the following year. Wow, Amy, you are simply amazing!!

In 2016, after a twenty year running hiatus, Michael Winterton was encouraged by young guns at the theatre company to join in the weekly parkrun.  Somewhat to his surprise, Michael found that 5km was more than merely achievable and his time has been improving exponentially, ever since that first community run.

The Hallora Marathon Festival was Michael’s first big event, running the 16km track.  He’s now clocked up four Hallora half marathons; the last one with his doctor, Holly, running alongside him, making Michael feel, “very safe.”  Since his return to running, Michael’s fitness has certainly increased, he has dropped 14kg and he doesn’t feel his age (we will leave you to speculate as to what that age is).

Michael is very humble in sharing his milestones, achievements and aspirations, and it took a bit of cajoling to pry information from this quiet spoken man. Since putting his running shoes back on, Michael has competed in excess of 50 half marathons, with his aim being to run one each month. James, from our REDfusion team, reminisced about running his own first half marathon alongside Michael who, chuckling, recalled, “nursing James along.”

When asked if Michael would recommend anything in particular about taking part in The Hallora Marathon Festival, he said it is a wonderful local event for a good cause, with really friendly people and volunteers.  Yep, that pretty much sums it up!

One of Michael’s current hobbies is to work on expanding his Big Map, where all his tracked runs on Strava merge together, showing how far across the state of Victoria he has travelled. When Michael first competed in Hallora, he was impressed how far down on the map he had travelled, which inspired him to continue to join all his runs together. He has now traversed from Hallora to the sea in the South, climbed Mount Baw Baw in the North,  stretching his map towards the Alpine Plateau and is just 16km short of Puffing Billy.   Michael now has his eyes on joining his runs South-East Gippsland, hoping to reach the tip of Wilsons Promontory soon.

Thanks, Michael, for showing that running is for both the young and young in heart.

Melbourne Italian Festa 2022

Melbourne’s long-standing Italian Festa was hosted by Carlton’s Lygon Street, AKA Little Italy –  famous for its delicious array of food, ranging from aromatic herb-infused pasta and pizza to delicate pastries, decadent cakes and creamy gelato.

On 3rd April, Little Italy was ablaze with colour and abuzz with joyous partygoers revelling in the music, dancing, entertainment and mouth-watering selection of Italian Street Food, all reflecting the vibrancy of Italian heritage and culture.

REDfusion was honoured to be a part of the celebration, filming on behalf of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, alongside our favourite photographer, Frank. With camera in hand, we captured the vivacity and love our Melbourne Italian Community radiates. We are so looking forward to returning for the Festa in 2023 and, once again, having our senses tantalised and embraced by all things Italian.

For more videos from the Festa, follow the Italian Chamber of Commerce socials Instagram and Facebook pages.