‘Thank you for including us so early in the process’ were the closing remarks from Carolyn Blakely, a highly accomplished carriage driver at the community engagement session hosted by the Trustees of the Marchmont Racecourse Reserve on Tuesday night, 3rd May, at the Yass Memorial Hall.

The meeting attracted some 40 participants from a wide variety of equestrian sports, community groups ranging from the historical society to dog trials, as well as neighbours of the Reserve, Councillors and Council staff. The overwhelming feedback was very positive, with enthusiasm for the opportunity presented by the proposed redevelopment of the Reserve for wider equine and canine sports along with passive recreation such as walking.

In his opening remarks, Ben Maguire, President of the Trustees, said ‘the Trustee’s role is to maintain and improve the Reserve, encourage the use and enjoyment of the lands by the public by promoting and increasing the recreational utility of the land, while taking into account the Reserve’s historical, social and cultural relationships with the Yass community”. The Reserve was dedicated in 1913 for Public Recreation and Racecourse.

Maguire acknowledged the importance of the Annual Picnic Races which had been held for over 100 years, with other sports such as polocrosse and car racing also being held there in the past. He then invited everyone to share their aspirations and views for the future of the site.

The key points raised were the unprecedented growth and interest in a variety of equine sports from camp drafting to carriage driving, the limitations of existing facilities in the region forcing participants to often travel considerable distances for competitions, shared facilities reducing the input required of individual groups maintaining grounds by themselves, intention to develop cost effective multi-purpose facilities to reduce overall costs, and the economic opportunities increased use and hosting events would bring to the town.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, but would like to provide input, your views or seek further information please contact the Trustees via marchmontreserve@gmail.com