2022 Australia Day Community Awards
Council, in partnership with local community groups, recognised the achievements of community members at Australia Day Community Award Ceremonies across the Shire on 26 January 2022.
Mayor Andrew Whitehead said the events were a welcome opportunity to come together and celebrate as a community after another challenging year.
“These awards give us a chance to recognise and thank the amazing people who have made a significant contribution to the Towong Shire community.”
“A huge thank you to the local community groups that hosted these awards - they wouldn’t have been possible without all your hard work.”
Join us in congratulating our Australia Day Community Award Winners!
Citizen of the Year Award: Julie Miller
Julie is involved with several community organisations and has been an active volunteer in the community for many years. She is the Team Leader for Berringa CERT, the Head Editor for the Berringa Community News, the Communications Officer for the Berringa Community Network, a former Secretary and current committee member for the Wises Creek Talgarno Landcare Group, an active Committee Member on the Talgarno Hall Committee and the Albury/Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Morning Tea Committee.
Julie invests hours of her time to make sure the community is informed, safe, and connected and is always one of the first people to put her hand up to help out.
Event of the Year Award: The Peninsula Seasonal Markets
The Peninsula Seasonal Markets provided an incredible opportunity for local residents to come together and support local businesses in what was another incredibly difficult year due to COVID-19 border closures and lockdowns.
Despite the challenges, the markets have become an important social event as well as highlighting the wealth of talent right here on our doorstep. The rotation of locations around the Peninsula has proven a great way to provide variation and equity across the small communities to help the local economy flourish.
Congratulations to the entire committee, volunteers and supporters of the Peninsula Seasonal Markets.
Citizen of the Year Award: Nicole Martin
Nicole has a strong commitment to her community and community led recovery. She is the Secretary and an active member of Berringama Rural Fire Brigade as well as the Chairperson of the Berringama/Lucyvale Community Recovery Committee.
Nicole is also the President of the Corryong Amateur Swimming Club; Secretary of the Lucyvale Tennis Club; and President of the Corryong College School Council – ensuring the College is able to provide the required education services for the community.
Nicole continues to unselfishly give back to the community in many ways on top of her employment at Corryong Health, her farming responsibilities and raising two children.
Event of the Year Award: Kosciusko Killer Grassroots Hard Enduro Championships
Held on the rough terrain of Tom Lebner’s property in Towong Upper this event is part of the Grassroots Hard Enduro series which determines the Australian Championship Rider. The skill of local riders has prompted the organisers to predict a future Australian or even World Champion from the current junior ranks.
Taking place in April 2021 the event brought approximately 1000 visitors to the Shire providing significant economic benefit to businesses including accommodation, eateries, fuel suppliers, and the Corryong Lions Club who cater for the weekend.
Thank you for bringing this world-class event to our corner of the world and to our local volunteers who made it a success.
Community Service Achievement Awards 2022
Graeme van Brummelen
Graeme has been part of organisations such as the Minister’s Association and Braveheart Freedom Fighters. He assisted with the distribution of financial help from the Baptist Union of Victoria, provided ongoing regular visits or phone calls to check on people’s mental health and wellbeing and offering help where needed.
He has also helped organise many community events, such as "Are you bogged mate?", painting workshops, horse riding clinic events, Men's and Boy’s BBQ Breakfast/Knot tying workshop, and Suicide Awareness meetings for the community during the past year.
Daryl contributed enormous volunteer hours as part of the 2019/20 bushfire recovery effort, pulling down burnt fences and rebuilding new fences for local farmers. Often helping out by himself or with a mate Daryl also joined the Uniting Church Fencing team when they were in Corryong.
Daryl has provided both company and help to farmers who may have battled away at tiresome fencing tasks by themselves. He has also been a part of Rotary Club of Corryong, the Sporting Complex Committee and Corryong Recreation Reserve Committee.
Rebecca is the owner of Commitment Fitness in Corryong. Following the 2019/20 bushfires and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca has gone above and beyond to support her local clients while also finding a national and international following. Rebecca ensured her clients had a ‘gym’ to attend even when they physically couldn’t, providing virtual classes and social events, and daily challenges.
While navigating the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions, home schooling three children and supporting her husband on the farm Rebecca also volunteered her time to the Federal Football and Netball Club, Corryong College Parents Club and Corryong Amateur Swim Club.
In the wake of the 2019/2020 bushfires, Jamie created the "Fencing for Fires" Facebook page to connect willing volunteers to fire affected farmers. To ensure farmers did not have to pay for any of the rebuild materials have he set up a 'Go Fund Me' page. To date the $120,000 received in donations has been converted to over $1million in material and labour.
Nearly two years on, Jamie continues to work tirelessly in the Upper Murray; walking from Cudgewa to Wodonga in 24 hours to raise $8000 for the Soldier On 'March On' campaign and raised over $8,000 to support mental health for fellow servicemen.
MITTA VALLEY AWARDS
Citizen of the Year Award: Ben Baude
Ben has a strong connection to the Eskdale community, displays solid leadership skills and has strong moral and ethical values. He has a passion for progress and the success of the programs run by the committees he represents. He shows great vision and determination ensuring that the region’s young people access and excel in the opportunities available to them.
Over the years he has taken primary responsibility for the Eskdale public swimming pool, collaborating with businesses, staff, community stakeholders and Towong Shire Council to ensure the successful operation of the pool each season. He works tirelessly for the Eskdale community by tending to the school and community lawns, often organising rosters and carrying out maintenance and mowing himself, for the safety and pride of the community.
He is also gifted at recognising and drawing out the talents of others. He spends many hours volunteering at the junior football and cricket clubs, and as Eskdale Primary School Council President has a vested interest in the success of, and opportunities for, the community’s youth.
Event of the Year
Eskdale Primary School Easter Fair - Parents Club Organising Committee
Despite 2021 once again being a year marred by lockdowns, Easter provided a small window of opportunity for events, travel and crowds to gather. Parents Club Organising Committee, led by Jess Baude, pulled together an amazing Easter Fair, catering to a record crowd while following all COVID-19 safe restrictions, and raising $20,000 to go toward the children at the local Eskdale Primary School – to enhance learning opportunities across all year levels.
The committee consists of parent volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure the day ran smoothly and supplies were plenty. There was something for everyone to enjoy, see and do with residents and visitors well catered for.
Community Service Achievement Award
John has been awarded this honour for his involvement in the Dartmouth Progress Association and the Angling Club. He is always first on-site at a Working Bee, and always willing to put up his hand for the hardest of tasks, volunteering his vehicle and tools to ease the burden on his fellow workers. It doesn’t matter what the job – a concrete pour, cooking, supplying firewood to needy residents, watering town trees, helping out the Mitta Valley farmers, or organising the orderly parking of cars at the boat ramp for the Dart Cup – he will be there.
Wendy Lewicki and Sarah Wilson
Wendy and Sarah have been awarded this honour for their involvement with the VicSwim Program at Eskdale Pool. Until recently the pool has been run entirely by the Eskdale community; fundraisers helped with running costs and locals would take on the responsibility of care, maintenance and the upstart preparations for the swimming season each year. Recently, Towong Shire Council and Eskdale Primary School have stepped in to assist with costs and administration, however, the preparation for each season is still done by a few volunteers.
Without these volunteers there can be no VicSwim for the wider community or the children from Eskdale, Mitta and Dartmouth. Thank you to Wendy and Sarah for their commitment to the VicSwim program over the years.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
John Baude, Alan Ellis, Chris Ellis, Bob Garbutt, Janette Garbutt (posthumously), Narelle Steele, Richard Steele, Bill Wilson, Chris Wilson
These awards are presented to a group of individuals who were instrumental in initiating the clean-up and maintenance of the township of Eskdale. In1995/1996 during a discussion between locals at the Eskdale Hotel it was agreed the town was looking a little tired and uninviting. The group of nine came together using personal equipment and ride-on mowers and began to clear the town of long grass. This volunteer mowing and cleaning group continued until 1998 and created the beautiful green creekside along Little Snowy Creek and a tidy town entrance.
These nine people were to become the foundation of what is now known as the Eskdale Progress Association. In 1998, Cr John Scales initiated a public meeting and with strong public support the group was legally formalised and the Eskdale Progress Association was established.
From the humble beginnings of a small group having a chat over a cold beer, the Eskdale Progress Association has continued to progress and work together with Towong Shire Council to beautify the town and make it more appealing to residents and visitors.
Citizen of the Year Award: Geoff and Kerry Love
Geoff and Kerry moved to Tallangatta in 1984 to teach at the Tallangatta Secondary College where they remained until their retirement.
Kerry has been the Secretary of the Tallangatta Memorial Hall Committee for the last 18 years and Geoff a life member of the Tallangatta Tennis Club and an active member of the Tallangatta Country Fire Authority Brigade. Together they have been active members of the Tallangatta Hockey Club and contributed significantly to the Tallangatta Rail Trail Advisory Group, playing an important role in the restoration of four trestle bridges and organising fundraising events such as the annual Tall Trestle Treadle and Whistlestop High Tea.
They are both keen to help other organisations with their events, helping Rotary when extra hands are needed and every Sunday after Show Day they offer to cook breakfast for the Show jumpers.
Young Citizen of the Year Award: Justin Cawood and Christopher Cawood
Justin and Christopher are inseparable and have served the community side by side. Moving to the area at a young age they attended Upper Sandy Creek Primary School and Tallangatta Secondary College.
They pursued a number of extra-curricular activities throughout secondary school; they were members of the College shooting team from Year 8 to Year 12 and joined the Concert and Jazz Bands in Year 7, continuing as dedicated members until Year 12. There love of swimming started at 13 when they joined the Tallangatta Swimming Club and continue today as coaches. Initially joining the Tallangatta SES as junior members they became full member at 18 and continue to attend call outs to serve their community. The family farm doubled as a location for Maremma Rescue Victoria and they became involved in their mother’s beloved work of rescuing and rehoming Maremma.
While completely their Science degrees at Charles Sturt University they tutored other students while excelling at their own study - making it onto the Dean’s List each, graduating with Distinction and achieving Class 1 Honours for their Honours Degree.
Humble, quiet and unassuming gentlemen their achievements, attitude and dedication to helping others shows how valuable to and valued by their community they are.
Local Champion Award
Maree has been committed to the Girl Guides movement from the time she joined as a Brownie at the age of 6. She was the first Girl Guide in Tallangatta to earn the BP Emblem, become a Junior Leader and finally earning the Queen’s Guide Award as a Ranger Guide. Once her daughter was old enough to become a Junior Guide (Brownie) she was quick to get back into unform and has been the Guide Leader in charge for the past 15 years.
With 30 girls attending the local Unit, Maree is always coming up with new ideas to keep the girls interested and enthusiastic. Recent events have included holding a walkathon to “buy a koala’ – raising enough money to save two koalas; visiting the Tallangatta Astronomy Club’s Observatory; enjoying the snowy Valleys Camp Site in Tallangatta Valley and organising the Community Christmas Tree in Tallangatta.
Maree is a former Young Citizen of the Year, and Citizen of the Year and this year is recognised for her determination and commitment to ensure that Guides remained active and positive despite the challenges of the last 12 months.
Ally discovered her love of swimming at the Tallangatta Swimming Pool at a very young age. She realised very quickly hard work, determination and sacrifices would be required to swim at State level - with a normal day starting at 4.45am.
In January 2021 she achieved a personal best at the Victorian Country Championships; in February she achieved four new state times at the O&M Championships; in March she made three finals at the Victorian Long Course Championships.
When the challenges of COVID-19 hit, self-determination set in as Ally continued to chase her dream to go to States for School Sports Victoria. In April, Ally achieved first in the 50m freestyle and fifth in the 50m butterfly. She now has her sights set on the Nationals in 2022.
Andrew Chalmers has been a valued member of our local community for many years. He is a devoted husband, father and grandfather and has been a willing volunteer with many organisations over the years.
He has served as a Country Fire Authority (CFA) Instructor and after many years of service is currently serving as the Captain of the Tallangatta CFA branch. During the 2019/2020 bushfires he served tirelessly alongside his fellow brigade members to ensure the safety of the community.
Citizen of the Year Award: Irene Palmer
A local of over 40 years, Irene is well known as a caring person both professionally in her role as a nurse, and as an active member of the community. She is a past President and member of the Walwa Bush Nursing Hospital and as an active member of the community working on several committees and community events.
She has been known to mow grass at the cemetery, patch up injured footballers, ferry local school children involved in music and dance, provide live music, or simply care for everyone she meets with her warm, engaging smile. Nothing is ever too much trouble for her.