Upon arriving in Wooreen from the ‘big smoke’, Tom and Deb wanted to get to know their new community and embrace their new lifestyle. As a ‘Christmas tragic’, Tom (born on Christmas Day) set out a plan to put Black Duck Farm on the map by covering the house and property with a spectacular display of Christmas lights. Deb, loving to entertain, then invited the entire community in for a welcome/Christmas gathering for the official lighting on the 1st Sunday in December, a tradition that has continued now for 12 years. The ‘annual Wooreen Christmas Party’ as it is now known, is now the highlight of the year for all and the lighting display is well known and viewed by a range of visitors from far and wide.
The location was initially called North Leongatha, though its original name was Wooreen, but this had been changed some years ago. The community was keen to re-establish the original name and applied to have this successfully changed. According to Energy Australia the name Wooreen is the Gunaikurnai language name meaning light, which seems fitting with the Christmas light display. However, this new name was only known to residents as no official signage was provided by the shire. So again, the community got together to change this and raised the money required to pay for the signs to be printed, the shire agreed to erect them, and they are now proudly displayed on all 3 boundaries.
A number of projects have been undertaken by the community often being driven by and/or utilising Black Duck Farm as a Centrepoint for ideas and activity. In 2020 the Shire launched a local art project for the region and Wooreen and its residents were not to be left out. With the assistance of our resident artist(s), the residents came together to create WooMoo and Poppy, a full-sized cow and calf made of hay bales and other farm materials. The installation was displayed in Wooreen as part of an art trail and they are now happily been retired to rest at Black Duck Farm.
This is only one of many art & community projects the Wooreen residents have jointly supported. The annual Daffodil and Dairy festival have seen metal daffodils and cows made and displayed along the Leongatha Yarragon Road and in the main street of Leongatha. Most important of all is the commitment by the community to respect and support the ANZAC legacy. An Avenue of Oak trees planted to commemorate the 1st World War runs the length of Black Duck Farm. In April and November each year the community gathers at the memorial plaque (again arranged by the local community) opposite Black Duck Farm for a ceremony conducted and attended by the residents. Metal poppies created by Deb and made by the community are displayed at the site and at the gates of residents.
Tom & Deb’s neighbours are an integral part of the lifestyle and live blood of Black Duck Farm. Opening their home to the community for a range of social and community functions, Tom and Deb and have been rewarded with the unwavering support and friendship of the wonderful people of Wooreen. Whether it be the annual Grape picking, crushing and pressing or wine bottling, Olive or fruit picking, or simply a garden working bee or winter wood chopping exercise, they come together to work, laugh and celebrate. Wooreen is a close-knit community, ready to assist and support when needed. Over the past few years whenever Tom & Deb needed help, it was never far away. Wooreen is, and has been, a truly a special place to live and will be sadly missed.