Change is in the air at Cororooke as Red Rock Winery brings life back to the town’s former Fonterra factory buildings.
Red Rock Winery owner Rohan Little told the Colac Herald that the winery had bought the former dairy factory buildings in March and was now developing the site into a bottling facility.
“At the moment we are expanding into this site due to an expansion in our export sales,” Mr Little said.
“There is a lot of work involved in the development of the new site.”
Fonterra closed the Cororooke dairy factory in 2013. At the time, the factory employed 130 staff and had operated for more than 100 years.
Red Rock Progress Association president Chris Bell said the site’s development meant it “once again has a district connection”.
“It is really good to see that it is being used, and come back to being a productive work site,” Mr Bell said.
He said that funding in Colac Otway Shire Council’s 2018-19 budget for toilets at Cororooke’s open space public tennis courts, also on former Fonterra land, was another sign of the town’s transformation.
“It shows the community spirit in wanting to get this, and the need for it in terms of the young children in the town now,” he said.
“We are certainly happy to see the progress after all the doom and gloom from the factory closing, and we’d like to start concentrating on some of the other townships at some stage too.”
But Mr Bell said the town now had only one regularly open retail store, which highlighted the challenge of operating businesses in small towns. He said Cororooke needed people to have “wild dreams that are worth trying”.
“You have got to be a very special person to want to own a business in one of these small towns,” Mr Bell said.
“It requires somebody with a very strong community spirit and it’s not necessarily going to be all that financially beneficial, you’re not going to make your fortune doing it.”
Cororooke resident and academic Geoffrey Robinson, who moved to the town this year, said population decline was a likely challenge for business in small rural towns.
“I think it does show the difficulty of small businesses in country towns; when the population in the area is a lot less than it used to be decades ago, and you can tell by looking, there was obviously that cluster of shops on the corner,” Mr Robinson said.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.