Located in the heart of Benalla, famed for is connection to Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang, the Benalla Sports and Equestrian Centre is a melting pot for equestrian community activity in the high country of north-eastern Victoria.

The picturesque venue boasts high quality infrastructure including a 72 m x 40 m covered riding arena erected in 2019, providing an all-weather surface with floodlighting for local and regional equestrian participants alike.

The centre is a much sought-after venue and the story behind its arena construction underpins the strength of local community and its power for good.

Established in 2016 when three local equestrian clubs, Benalla Adult Riding Club Inc., Big Valley Quarter Horse Association Inc. and the Benalla Pony Club came together, Raise the Roof Benalla Inc.is a community organisation that works in partnership to construct and manage the large, covered sand arena.

The organisation works tirelessly to support local clubs, develop venue infrastructure and promote involvement across various equestrian disciplines.

Raise the Roof Benalla secretary Kyra Rheese explains:

“Our mission is to provide an outstanding, all-inclusive, safe regional equestrian facility that services all levels of events in the sport while fostering healthy competition, life-long friendships, camaraderie and social wellbeing within the community.”

More recently, Raise the Roof Benalla has turned its attention to a new project – installation of a 1.3 m high equine kick rail safety fence down both long sides of the covered arena (144m total length) using a plywood timber product certified under full Responsible Wood chain-of-custody certification.

Supplied by local sawmiller Ryan & McNulty, using an EcoPly product produced locally in Myrtleford by Carter Holt Harvey, and distributed through Jackaroo Timbers, the fence is the ‘icing on the cake’ for a project that has received wide community and government support.

For Raise the Roof Benalla Inc. the choice to insist on Responsible Wood full chain-of-custody certification is an important step in supporting local business and communicating the importance of chain-of-custody certification to the wider community.

“Chain of Custody is not widely understood within the community,” Kyra Rheese said.

“The new equine kick rail fence is an ideal way to showcase Responsible Wood certified products in an engaging and all-inclusive manner in a public space.”

Responsible Wood will feature on arena signage for three years and will work with local certificate holders to educate the community on chain of custody certification.

Raise the Roof Benalla was one of the entrants in the 2020 Responsible Wood Small Grants Program. For more information about the Responsible Wood Small Grants please visit the Responsible Wood website