Town grew on Clare
A chance for cheaper real estate has led to marriage, children and a fulfilling life of volunteering for a Manjimup woman.
Clare Bailey moved to Manjimup in 2006 after buying a house at the height of the property boom and within a week, joined the Manjimup Volunteer Fire and Rescue as a way to meet people.
“I didn’t know a soul, and wasn’t planning on moving into the house,” she said.
“I was going to rent it out, but I just randomly applied for a few jobs and got an offer, so I moved to Manjimup.
“I could never move, I can’t leave this district now, it’s the best place to live.”
Clare said joining the fire brigade had been a great way to meet people — people who would become her mechanic, her house painter and even her husband.
“It was a great way to get information about the community because moving here and not knowing anyone — and being a single girl working full-time — I didn’t have time to go out and find information,” she said.
“The only way you could get information about what was going on was the newspaper and by talking to other people.”
After Clare had children, she stepped up her volunteering in the community because she had the time to do it as she was not working.
“There are roles and jobs that needed filling, otherwise these groups wouldn’t continue,” she said.
While she stepped into a support role at the fire brigade because it was difficult to have a husband and wife on duty to respond to emergencies because there was no one to look after the children, Clare picked up several other volunteer roles.
Other roles included being on the Manjimup Child and Family Health Centre committee for about three years until it folded and organising the Manjimup Produce Swap.
As her children grew older, Clare also joined the SES because she enjoyed volunteering in emergency services.
The Manjimup Produce Swap was started when Clare, with plenty of vegetables in her garden and friends offering her more, found it as a way to share among others.
“I read about the concept in a gardening magazine in 2010 and it took me two years to work up the courage to suggest it,” she said.
“It was a good opportunity to chat and share notes.”
After several years, after which the produce swap waned, it has regrown in popularity.
There are almost 500 people on the Facebook page and about 25 people — including eight core members — who participate each fortnight.
Clare said she loved Manjimup’s natural environment and said she had seen a real up take in the community spirit in the past five years.
She believed the shift had occurred as people pulled together to support each other and became more and more passionate about the region.
“It’s the rise of passionate people in positions of authority, it seems to be driving a very positive move,” she said.
In addition to being a great way to meet people, Clare said volunteering was important because it was a great way to learn new skills.
“Even for those who are not sporty and don’t have kids, if you join two or three organisations, you’ll be so busy,” she said.
“You build up so many networks and if the worst happens, you can call on this wealth of people to support you.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails