Established in 1994, the Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre (GVFFC) began its journey as a modest fly shop, offering local patterns and guided services along the Goulburn and Rubicon rivers. Initially situated in a side room at the Four Ways Café and Diner in Thornton, the centre swiftly expanded.
By 1997, GVFFC had relocated to a 16-acre property on the outskirts of town, initially operating from a basic 160m^2 tin shed. Fast forward to 2002, and the vision of an impressive architect-designed mud brick lodge came to life. This establishment quickly became the central hub for Victoria’s fly fishers, boasting a prime location on the banks of the Goulburn River, complete with stocked lakes and charming cottage accommodations.
The year 2018 saw another shift as, after over two decades at this location, the property was sold, prompting a move to Alexandra, where the legacy continues.
The Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre was the brainchild of co-founders David Pickering and Geoff Hall, launched in 1994. Both David and Geoff command immense respect within Australian fly-fishing circles and the local community. Geoff, with his three-decade teaching career, and David, a local business owner, met through their sons’ friendship at school. Their connection was instantaneous, and thus, GVFFC was born. They pioneered drift boating on the Goulburn River, introducing its potential to countless enthusiastic anglers.
In 1996, the GVFFC family welcomed Anthony Boliancu. Anthony quickly began curating a website, transforming it into an essential resource for Melbourne’s fly fishing community. It was this digital platform that sowed the seeds for their next ambition: establishing an American-style Guide/Outfitter/Lodge. This dream was realised in 2002 when the striking mud brick centre was inaugurated near the Goulburn River in Thornton.
Their aspirations didn’t stop at Australian shores. GVFFC also holds the distinction of being the first Australian fly fishing venture licensed to guide in New Zealand. Their repertoire expanded with escapades to Montana during Australia’s winter off-season, as well as expeditions to destinations like British Columbia and Patagonia.
Although Geoff bid adieu to the business in 2016, he remains an active guide during weekends, serving as an inspiration to newer members of the team. David, on the other hand, took a step back in 2018. While he no longer guides, he is often spotted on the river in his drift boat, accompanied by his partner Nella, generously sharing tips and advice with fellow anglers.
A Family Bonded by Passion
As of 2023, GVFFC boasts a robust team of ten dedicated guides, some of whom have been integral members since the centre’s infancy. GVFFC isn’t just a workplace – it’s a close-knit family of fervent fly fishing aficionados. On their off days, they bond over fishing trips, and even their holidays are marked by overseas fishing expeditions. Their shared passion for fly fishing is evident in their commitment to mentoring fellow enthusiasts, ensuring they thrive and enjoy the sport.
Resilience Through Time
The upcoming year (2024) holds special significance for GVFFC, marking their 30th year in the guiding industry. Throughout these three decades, the centre has braved challenges including the millennium drought, the Global Financial Crisis, the Black Saturday Bushfires, a pandemic, and most recently, the floods of 2022. In a challenging sector where many strive but few succeed, GVFFC remains resilient, supporting multiple guide’s families through their enduring passion for fly fishing. They eagerly look forward to sharing their zeal with others and aim to continue their legacy for many more decades to come.