November 10th, 2023Vale Tim Hayes
Timothy Kevin Hayes (1950 – 2023)
Tim Hayes was a community leader and internationalist who rejuvenated the township of Clunes and saw its population double.
Tim (pictured above with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard) had strong family connections to the Victorian Labor Party, especially at the time of the DLP split of 1955 and wrote about this in his chapter ‘Faith of our Fathers’ in The Great Labor Schism: A Retrospective (2005) edited by Costar, Love and Strangio. This interest in politics shaped his public life.
In 1998, after working in local government, Tim and his partner, Michael Waugh, purchased an impressive historic building which was once the old Telegraph Hotel. It had been a Cobb & Co coach terminus and was one of the places the founding fathers discussed federation and the constitution. At the time the impressive building was known as Keebles Country House and was run as elegant accommodation and a restaurant. The pair continued to run this business for eight years.
Tim recognised the value of tourism in renewing country towns and called a committee together to form a sister city relationship with Coloma in the US. Like Clunes, it had been the place of gold’s first discovery. The sister city relationship was officially acknowledged by the El Dorado County Board in February 2000. Tim and his committee held annual celebrations in the extensive grounds of Keebles which raised funds for local clubs and groups. These had an American theme, were joined by US officials, and often celebrated Broadway musicals.
At this time Tim joined the staff as administrator of the newly created year 9 residential campus of Wesley College in Clunes. Tim was the interface between Wesley and the Clunes community. His background in hospitality and local government stood him in good stead as did his wickedly irreverent sense of humour and his impeccable understanding of how to make things work. Under his leadership Wesley and Clunes formed a strong relationship which endures to this day.
In 2001 he was instrumental in setting up a Clunes committee to steer the celebrations of 150 years since gold discovery. These were so successful the events won the Judges Award for Best Tourism Association Event in the regional section at the 2002 Goldfields Tourism Awards.
His love of theatre saw him form the local amateur society where its annual productions included the musical, The Boyfriend and the Australian classic, Dimboola.
He and his partner established Widow Twankey’s Confectionary Emporium and ice cream parlour as a fantastical shop on Clunes’ main street in the theme of Aladdin. The bright colours and magical display of confectionery created a tourism icon and assisted the reinvigoration of Fraser Street. They operated this business until 2021.
In 2006 he was elected councillor and in 2007 became mayor of Hepburn Shire. One of his most outstanding achievements was the $3.23 million redevelopment of the Clunes Museum and Interpretive Centre and significant renovations to the Clunes and District Agricultural Showgrounds.
In 2007 he, along with Graeme Johnstone, Linda Newitt and Tess Brady, was a founder of Clunes Booktown, a long-running project which significantly enhanced tourism and prosperity in the town. Its annual festival attracts around 15,000 visitors and is a highlight of the regional calendar.
For 10 years Tim ran the secretariate ensuring that the organisation was well-run but flexible enough to be creative and embrace opportunities. He oversaw the 2010 bid to join the International Organisation of Booktowns, the first membership offered to a town in the Southern Hemisphere.
He served on several community and local boards including as Chair of the Central Highlands Regional Libraries Corporation (2010-2012) and as a member of the Community Bank Creswick and District taking an active role on the board from 2014 until 2021 where he served as a member of the Business Development Committee and the chairperson of the Audit & Finance Committee.
Whip-smart, funny, and a person of great substance, Tim’s contributions to his community will be counted for many years to come.
Tim died on October 28, 2023 after an illness and is survived by his partner Michael Waugh.
Contributed: Tess Brady