Connected country: Lake Charlegrark

A picturesque location, fishing, and a music marathon for a good cause is a trifecta too good to ignore, says nbn™ local Manager for Victoria, Graham Soawyer.

In 1992, Lake Charlegrark in far western Victoria was as beautiful and peaceful as ever. An aquatic interlude in a vast and vibrant rural landscape.

The members of the Neuarpurr Angling Club knew and appreciated this – but also knew the peaceful setting could be more than solely a fishing oasis.

It could also be a place to raise vital funds for the hospital that so greatly helped a local family.

And, with that, the Lake Charlegrark Country Music Marathon (LCCMM) was born: “where the foreshore comes alive with fantastic country music from talented artists”.

Year one and beyond

In that first year, thanks to the inspired new fundraising event, $400 was donated to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, while a further $600 went to the local hospital at Edenhope.

As is often the case, opportunity and a small tight-knit community came together in a formidable combination.

“This is what communities do,” says West Wimmera Shire Mayor and festival treasurer, Councillor Jodie Pretlove.

“People didn’t just see a need, they saw an opportunity.”

A group of keen anglers with a soft spot for country music would, over the years, turn into a committee of 13 and a volunteer workforce of more than 80 people.

Held annually on the third weekend of February, LCCMM has just celebrated its 28th year and has contributed more than $200,000 to the local Edenhope Hospital and other charities, as well as helping fund Lake Charlegrark foreshore upgrades.

Yet, even a breath of fresh air – as Lake Charlegrark genuinely is – can have its fair share of challenges, not least being communications.

With upwards of 2000 country music-loving visitors, a substantial volunteer workforce, and the machinery needed to run a two-day music festival, if nothing else, these elements all require robust communications.

So that’s why, for the past two years, NBN Co has taken the opportunity to help the LCCMM committee with its connectivity needs, while also showcasing to festival-goers just what the nbn™ broadband access network can do.

The Charlegrark connectivity challenge

The connectivity challenge for festival organisers came from needing, at the very least, to provide a Wi-Fi service to guests and vendors in a location that – at four and a half hours north-west of Melbourne – is itself rather challenging.

The success of the festival, and the evolution of customer needs and expectations, meant organisers needed to provide additional services, like EFTPOS.

Says Cr. Pretlove: “People want to be able to use EFTPOS, and they want Wi-Fi. As a committee, we want to provide these benefits in a safe and connected environment.

“We love our Lake Charlegrark and our festival but, increasingly, we just have to keep up and provide all of those facilities people come to expect.”

And that’s where one of our Road Muster trucks came in.

Specially equipped with a connection to our Sky Muster™ Satellite Service, as well as access to our Fixed Wireless network – both of which provide access to services over the nbn™ access network for those living in regional, rural and remote Australia – we soon had the problem solved.

The organisers and vendors could tap into our network for their connectivity needs throughout the festival weekend, with plenty of satisfied EFTPOS customers, Wi-Fi users and, well, lots of happy people all round.*

Says Cr. Pretlove, “We are very proud of our music marathon. Apart from providing entertainment for so many, it has allowed us to donate to many charities, and also support and give back to our local community.”

And with a little help from connectivity, the event continues to go from strength to strength.

Headline performer Adam Harvey, winner of eight Golden Guitars, sums up the Lake Charlegrark Country Music Marathon perfectly: it’s the best damn little country music festival there is.

* An end user’s experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ broadband access network, depends on the nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to their premises, whether they are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside of nbn’s control (like their equipment quality, software, chosen broadband plan, signal reception, or how their provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Sky Muster™ satellite end users may also experience latency.