Jo’s father Bob Connolly and a friend on the bridge at the dam the very first time the water went over the spillway in February, 1974.
Jo’s father Bob Connolly and a friend on the bridge at the dam the very first time the water went over the spillway in February, 1974.

Lockout ‘unfair' for families

GROWING up, the Fairbairn Dam was Jo Fanning's second home.

Most weekends were spent out there fishing until dusk, having barbecue dinners while enjoying the sunset over the dam and celebrating special family occasions.

Family life revolved around the dam and Jo's father Bob Connolly was the construction foreman on the dam during the late 1960s to early 1970s.

Jo was born just after Fairbairn Dam was completed and has many memories of the community making the most of the new attraction.

"In the early days the dam area itself was a thriving community complete with a post office and the local bar," she said.

"The picnic grounds were always immaculate, well presented and well looked after. It was the place to escape.

"People were drawn there."

But the lockout times SunWater is proposing have angered Jo.

"This is not just a huge tourist attraction for the Central Highlands but is an important place of gathering and escape for families," she said.

"Every community has a place where people come together - the dam is this place.

"For me being able to camp and fish with minimal restrictions at the dam was almost a rite of passage - I got to adventure in a great playground, share in recreational pastimes and make connections with family and friends.

"You can't replace this stuff."

Jo said she believed the changes to the recreational use of the facility were not in the spirit of community.

"It's unfair when it's a minority of people. There's always been the odd concern but to block or place unfair limitations to the whole community is a bit beyond belief," she said.


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