A town is only ever as vibrant as its community, and the Lilydale Arts group has long been a driving force behind the small town of Lilydale.
For about 30 years the group has run craft and art groups and workshops, held performances and music recitals, arranged community events, raffles and parades.
For years they organised the town’s annual Christmas parade.
“I can remember really well that there were so many floats of all the organisations that were taking part there weren't enough people to actually watch,” Lilydale Arts founding member Bernadine Alting recollects.
Every Christmas they still present a Christmas pantomime, written by Lilydale Arts secretary and treasurer Brenda Radbone.
But perhaps what they are best known for is their work developing the painted poles, for which the town is now known.
Driving through Lilydale it is hard to miss the telegraph poles, the bottom of which have all been painted with scenes depicting the important characters and history of the area.
The poles were first painted in 1999, as a way to put Lilydale on the map.
“The main reason for it was that a lot of people were coming through Lilydale and just whooshed through without stopping so it was to keep people longer in Lilydale, ‘Linger longer in Lilydale’ was our motto at the time and it did [achieve that],” Alting said.
When they were finished we were amazed how many people actually stopped the car and walked the poles.Bernadine Alting
“When [the poles] were finished we were amazed how many people actually stopped the car and walked the poles.”
The community was invited to help design the scenes on the pole as well as help with the painting under the guidance of local artists.
“When we’re working on the poles everyone stops and says, ‘Oh what are you doing here?’, and not just strangers, locals too,” Radbone said.
Time may have marched on, but it hasn’t wilted the passion of the ladies running the group for their local community.
Their latest plans are to revitalise the village green, opening it up and making it a more inviting community space.
And it will of course include some new, more durable concrete poles in keeping with the “Town of the Painted Poles”.
Also coming up is the annual Lantern Walk held at Lilydale Falls to celebrate the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.
The walk has been running for decades and is well attended by the community Alting said.
Lilydale Arts president Chris Bush said the walk is beautiful, with light installations, lanterns and many delighted children.
This year the walk will be on Friday, June 23.