Towong Shire

Australia Day Community Awards 2021

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 2021.

Mayor Wortmann said the events were a welcome opportunity to come together and celebrate as a community after a challenging 2020.

“These awards give us a chance to recognise and thank the amazing people who have made a significant contribution to the Towong Shire community.”

“I’d like to particularly call out the stories of bravery and selflessness during last summer’s bushfires and throughout our ongoing recovery, I can’t thank you enough for your unwavering support for our community.”

“A huge thank you also goes 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

David Parker

During last summer’s bushfires, David sourced over 40 tool packs to assist farmers and residents, who had lost their sheds and equipment in the fires, to repair and rebuild. He personally delivered the packs and supplies to farms in the Upper Murray region. David has been instrumental in promoting the Bellbridge Childcare Centre, as well as raising a significant amount of money to provide better resources. He also had a striking red beard which was shaved off for charity, raising thousands of dollars for Movember.

Ken Star

Ken, the volunteer CFA Captain for the Granya and District Rural Fire Brigade, answered every fire emergency related phone call during the bushfire season last year. He always makes time to help other farmers with slashing, burning off, spraying and shearing before he heads home to start work on his own farm. Ken spent a whole weekend welding a new drag plate for a contractor working in Granya who didn’t know anyone in the area. He also works full time on another local farm in addition to running his own farm.


Citizen of the Year Award

Pastor Carol Allen

Carol is Chaplain to the Corryong Police, provides pastoral support to the residents of Corryong Health Residential Aged Care Facility and is a member of the Corryong Health Community Advisory Group. She is most noticed for her work with the Corryong Food Pantry – a food relief service for the needy and disadvantaged. She was requested to assume the role of Volunteer Coordinator of Corryong Food Pantry in 2010 and in that same year the State Government issued an Annual Community Service Award to the organisation. During last summer’s bushfire emergency, Carol coordinated relief centre activities and provided pastoral care to those experiencing trauma.

Fay Whitehead

Fay was a founding member of the management committee of the Corryong Education Centre – now the Corryong Neighbourhood Centre - and was instrumental in bringing internet services to Corryong. She developed the concept and obtained funding for the Corryong Browsers Bookshop - an outreach for lonely people to browse and have a chat or volunteer. Fay has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer with Rotary and the Anglican Church, and has helped the Rotary Club cater for events. She has also been involved with the Community Liaison Group of Upper Murray Health and Community Services and the monthly Upper Murray Farmers Market. She is committed to the Anglican Church and has served as Rector’s Warden and representative on the local Foodbank committee. After last summer’s bushfires, Fay volunteered countless hours at the Emergency Relief Centre in Corryong.

Young Citizen of the Year Award

Sophie Hewatt

Sophie completed her education at Corryong College with a Baccalaureate VCE in 2019. She has represented her school at many sporting events including Regional Championships in swimming, athletics, cross-country, as well as the State Girls Cricket finals. She was also a House Captain and School Vice-Captain. Sophie has volunteered as a junior coach for the local gymnastics club and assisted with coaching of Netball and Basketball. She has been a member of the Corryong Tennis Club, Corryong Golf Club, Corryong Junior Gymnastics Club, Upper Murray Dance, Corryong Amateur Basketball Association, Corryong Football and Netball Club and the Corryong Swim Club. Sophie was a member of the CFA Advance Crew and is currently a member of the local Corryong CFA branch. During last summer’s bushfires she was involved in fire suppression, asset protection, evacuations, fleet movement, communications and logistics. This year she completed her first year of a degree in Biomedical Science with La Trobe University and has been working with DELWP as a Project Firefighter this summer.

Champion of the Year Award

Ian Williams

Ian volunteered continuously with the Uniting Church Emergency Fencing Team from February to December 2020. During the past year he has volunteered five days a week on 35 properties clearing burnt fence lines and rebuilding new fences for landholders in Corryong, Cudgewa, Towong and Tintaldra. He also mentored and trained volunteers who had limited or no fencing experience. He was a vital contact for the Uniting Church Emergency Fencing Team with local property owners and spread the word about the service. Ian is also a member of the Corryong Men’s Shed and the Corryong Baptist Church, and in his spare time completes maintenance jobs for the Sacred Heart Primary School.

Local Champion Award

Ralph (deceased), Carol, Tracey and Kate Fair - Hotel Cudgewa

During last summer’s bushfire emergency, the Fair family kept their business open to ensure there was a place for the Cudgewa community to come together. They provided a place for food, rest and drink, transforming it into a distribution centre, a space to hold community meetings and to provide up to date emergency information and support.

Paul Carkeek

Paul Carkeek, Captain of the Cudgewa Fire Brigade, has been a volunteer firefighter for nearly 40 years. During last summer’s bushfire emergency he patrolled the Cudgewa area day and night checking for spot fires and helped to organise food and drink for other firefighters. He was a vital link to the community providing up to date emergency information when communication lines were down. Paul established the initial Cudgewa Community Centre ensuring there were sprinklers and generators in place before the second threat of fires as well as debriefing and counselling services for volunteer firefighters. Paul is a member of the Cudgewa Community Recovery Committee and represents Cudgewa on the Upper Murray Community Recovery Committee.

Pat Spicer

After last summer’s bushfire emergency, Pat assisted with relief activities at the Emergency Relief Centre. When the centre was moved to the former Primary School, she was responsible for the setting up and sorting of clothing and household items along with coordinating all the volunteer staff. Pat has also donated her time to packing and delivering food hampers to the fire affected community members.

Joanne Mackinnon

During last summer’s bushfires, Jo kept records of the farmers who remained behind to defend their properties. She also became a source of up to date information, with farmers reporting physically to the Tintaldra Station homestead each day for emergency updates. When the fires had passed through the area she visited each farmer to ensure they were okay. Jo is the Treasurer of the Upper Murray Community Recovery Committee, Chair of Upper Murray Incorporated and a member of the Agricultural Recovery working group.

Darren Jones - Tintaldra Hotel

Darren operated his business throughout last summer's bushfires, with the Tintaldra Hotel becoming the place for all donations of food and supplies. He provided prepared meals with donated food items that went to those who were without power for weeks.

Jo and Luke Humphrey, Leigh Eeles, Matt Aldridge and Jodie Bonny - Rise from the Ashes Event

After witnessing the devastation of the fires, former locals Jo and Luke Humphrey wanted to help. With the support Luke’s sister, Jodie Bonny and Leigh Eeles and Matt Aldridge from Coo-Wee Ride, the team organised a two-day music event held on 29 February and 1 March 2020 at Cudgewa Recreation Reserve. The team were able to quickly organise this large, logistically challenging event, with over 1,000 people attending, and $55,000 raised. They also organised hay runs, bringing trucks from as far as Geelong.


Citizen of the Year Award

Judy Cardwell

Judy has been instrumental in a number of local committees over the years. She was the first female volunteer for the Mitta Valley Ambulance Service, is a founding member of the Butcher’s Hook Craft Shop, Secretary of the Eskdale Swimming Pool Committee, and proactive member of the local Landcare Committee.

Young Citizen of the Year Award

Heidi Brookes

Heidi is a young teenager from the Mitta Valley that is always willing to help out in her community, especially at local sporting events and fundraisers. She is regularly seen at the Football and Netball Club on a Saturday working in the kitchen, as well as helping with clean up duties the next day.

Community Appreciation Award

Clive Wright

Clive is a quiet achiever in the Mitta Valley community. He has served many years on the Eskdale Swimming Pool Committee. Clive is a reliable worker who is always willing to help out where he can - whether it be working the BBQ at the footy, mowing the lawn at the swimming pool, or assisting with fundraising efforts.

Fran Ellis

Fran and her husband Allan owned the Eskdale Hotel for over 20 year, providing an environment that brought the community together - a safe place where there was a listening ear and a helping hand. She joined the Mitta North Tennis Club as a young girl, and remained playing with the club as an adult, as well as being on the club committee. She was also involved in the coaching and development of junior primary school children at the Eskdale Tennis Club. Fran is a long-time member of the Eskdale Hall Committee. She was also a member of the Eskdale Caravan Park Committee, ensuring the upkeep of the park. Fran was one of the founding members of the Eskdale Progress Association Committee. She is on the progress sub-committees for the annual Anzac Day march and the Mitta Valley Australia Day Community Breakfast Ceremonies.

Event of the Year Award

Mitta United Football and Netball Club – Wood Day Fundraiser

The Wood Day Fundraiser raised much needed funds for the Mitta United Football and Netball Club in Winter 2020. Trucks were filled with wood from a local property and transported to those in need of firewood for a discounted price.

Local Champion Award

Ambulance Victoria Mitta Valley, CFA Dartmouth, CFA Eskdale, CFA Mitta Mitta, SES Mitta Valley

These volunteer Emergency Services organisations are always the first responders for any bushfire, accident or other local emergencies in the Mitta Valley. During last summer’s bushfires these volunteers worked tirelessly to protect their community.


Citizen of the Year Award

Brad & Mandy Crispin

Through their successful business, Tallangatta Bakery, Brad and Mandy Crispin have supported various sporting bodies, charities and assisted with fund raising activities. They have also mentored and employed many local students giving them the opportunity to gain retail experience and develop leadership qualities. During last summer’s bushfires Brad and Mandy supported neighbouring towns and exhausted workers on the fire ground, keeping their business open 24 hours a day for almost three weeks. On one day they packed 800 lunches for people on the front line.

Young Citizen of the Year Award

Jack Fenz Mace

Jack has been involved in supplying light and sound for many community events including Australia Day, Anzac Day, Christmas Carols, Tallangatta Show and Tallangatta Secondary College theatre productions. He is also a valued member of the Tallangatta Community Theatre Group.

Local Champion Award

Rob Caddell

Rob volunteered and trained as a BlazeAid Camp Coordinator and has worked tirelessly in areas devastated by last year’s bushfires. This involved many long hours and much hard work - with several weeks living ‘under canvas’, virtually ‘on the job’ as crucial fencing infrastructure was gradually restored.

Vince Ciccone

Vince’s successful businesses have provided goods and services that were previously only available out of town - including a home delivery service. He employs many young locals, giving them the opportunity to gain valuable experience for their future. Through his businesses, Vince also supports many sporting clubs and charitable organisations, as well as supporting fundraising events.

Rob Main

Rob is involved with the CFA and has been in action on many fires, as well as helping out in last summer’s bushfire emergency. He has been instrumental in revitalising the Ice Breakers Swimming Group and recently decided to gain his lifeguard accreditation, generously donating his time to watch over others.

Gary Matheson

When Rotary were advised that St Vincent de Paul had donated 30 power generators after the bushfires, Gary instantly volunteered his services as an electrician to install the generators on affected properties. This involved many long hours and hundreds of kilometres of travel.

Travis Rohrich

Just before the bushfire emergency last year, Travis travelled to Corryong for work and was stranded there due to the fires. He immediately volunteered to help in the Corryong Emergency Relief Centre, and when he arrived back in Tallangatta he also volunteered at the Tallangatta Emergency Relief Centre.

The Tallangatta Community

The last Local Champion Award goes to the Tallangatta Community – who embody resilience, generosity and true Australian Spirit.


Citizen of the Year Award

Sue Martin

During last summer’s bushfire emergency, Sue spent many nights sleeping on the Walwa Bush Nursing Centre floor, and provided community support such as cooking and cleaning, working many 16 hour days voluntarily. Sue is a long standing member of the Bush Nursing Centre Board and has been nominated as Vice-Chair. She is team leader for the Community Emergency Response Team and undertakes considerable emergency training which enables her to provide first aid response to patients while waiting for an ambulance. Sue is Club Trainer to the Walwa Football Club, is working toward the development of the Walwa Men’s Shed and has been the instigator of the Walwa Spring Markets.

Young Citizen of the Year Award

Robert Hanna

Robert is a CFA volunteer and worked tirelessly in the bushfire emergency last year, refusing to return to work until the fires were well under control. He is also a SES volunteer. Robert was a volunteer mentor for the AIME education program which supports indigenous students through secondary school into university or employment. He also helped develop the Walwa Hall funding application, incorporating photographs and technical drawings.

Local Champion Award

Sandi Grieve and Joyce Hunt

During last summer’s bushfires, Sandi and Joyce supported local residents by providing meals, attending to their medical needs and providing counselling. They often slept on floors, or in their cars, to ensure they were readily available should an emergency arise.

David Hanna & Walwa CFA

Captain David and his team at the Walwa CFA Brigade worked long hours in dangerous conditions during last summer’s bushfires. David refused to evacuate the district, and in return saved many homes and properties.

Congratulations again to all our winners!

Last updated: 16 February 2021