Ian Ireland is a familiar face around Ballan. He’s been running the newsagency for the past three decades and volunteers with the Country Fire Authority. He speaks with Sumeyya Ilanbey.
What’s your connection to Moorabool?
I’ve been a Ballan resident for about 34 years and a business owner for the last 29 years.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Moorabool?
The community, the lifestyle … all the positive points of a small community that rally behind each other when something goes wrong.
The biggest thing that has hit Ballan was the closure of the Fiskville [CFA training centre] and it devastated the community … but everyone’s banded together to pull through. A lot are still struggling, but we hope the government will come to their aid and build a new complex if they can’t remediate what’s there at the moment.
What would you change about the area if you could?
We have so much open space, why do we persist on building dual dwellings on a single block of land?
I don’t mind small units, but what I’m talking about is splitting a block of land and putting a house behind another house.
Where’s your favourite place to hang out in Moorabool?
I like the peace and quiet of the bush. I’m open to all the parks we have – I like just being able to look at the horizon without any infrastructure.
Why did you decide to volunteer with the CFA?
It’s part of the community. To get to know people, to be involved and to help protect our own community.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Just being able to help people – especially in times of a crisis – and being able to reassure people.
When I was volunteering with the ambulance services, I helped deliver a baby – it was great.
[Six years ago] we were also involved in the rescue of a 15-year-old boy … who came off his bike in floodwaters and got stuck in a drain.
How has the closure of the Fiskville training facility impacted the community?
The centre was providing work for not only people who are employed by the CFA, but also the tradespeople, the shops in Ballan.
Economically, I don’t believe Ballan will ever recover – we’re not attracting any new large businesses.