The Rochester Mural Festival is held each year in our small town of approximately 3000 people. We are located in the shire of Campaspe, south of Echuca and west of Shepparton on the Campaspe River. The regional centre of Bendigo is only 60 kilometres to the south west, and the city of Melbourne is 190 kilometres to the south.
The town has a commercial and retail business centre with pre-school, childcare facilities and both state and catholic primary schools as well as a state secondary college. The major employers are Rochester Elmore District Health Services, (REDHS), Ward Brothers and Specialised Breeders, Australia. REDHS is our local hospital, a recently rebuilt facility, and we are blessed to have a hostel and nursing home attached to this which means our older folk can stay in familiar surroundings with family and friends close by.
The Rochester Mural Festival came into being as a result of an initiative of the “Committee 4 Rochester” (C4R) which was formed after the devastating floods of 2011. The C4R recognises the importance of fostering community initiatives to support engagement with arts, culture and heritage. The idea is to help enhance the economic viability of the town and attract tourism to Rochester and its region. By purchasing the rights from the already successful “International Mural Festival” in Sheffield Tasmania, Rochester is the only Victorian Town affiliated with the Sheffield Festival.
A small committee was formed to refine the details to establish our first festival, and with the help of our business community and many volunteers our first festival was held in March 2015. Applications were sent to the art world seeking eight artists to paint murals in the Mural Park for the town and visitors to enjoy. Applications from a strong, talented field of artists from many different states in Australia were received. The Festival was a success beyond our wildest dreams with over 2000 people visiting and it was a boost to our local economy.
The Festival has these aims:-
To facilitate a cultural artistic event.
To encourage artists and visitors to come to Rochester.
To improve the economics of Rochester and the wider community.
To create an event which promotes inclusion, co-operation, health and wellbeing within the community.
To distribute large murals throughout the town and wider district.