Skip Links

Community comes together for Australia Day

2018 Mount Alexander Shire Australia Day Award Recipients from L-R: State Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards MP with Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge organisers Camilo Demarco and Jane Goodrich, Grace Saltmarsh, Mayor Bronwen Machin, Maryanne Murdoch and Ken McDougall. Photo by Diana Domonkos.

Maryanne Murdoch has been named Mount Alexander Shire's Citizen of the Year at a community event in Victory Park on Australia Day. Congratulations to all award winners.

Friday 26 January 2018

Mount Alexander Shire Council is pleased to announce the winners of the shire’s Australia Day awards at a community celebration in Victory Park on Australia Day today.

The 2018 Mount Alexander Shire Australia Day Award recipients are:
• Maryanne Murdoch – Citizen of the Year
• Grace Saltmarsh – Young Citizen of the Year
• Ken McDougall – Senior Citizen of the Year
• Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge – Community Event of the Year

Special mentions were awarded to:

• Ian Higgins – Special Mention – Citizen of the Year
• Castlemaine and Surrounds Repair Café – Special Mention – Community Event of the Year
• SteamPacket at the Historic Maldon Railway Station – Special Mention – Community Event of the Year

Mount Alexander Shire Mayor Bronwen Machin said she was impressed by all nominees and their achievements.

“Each year on Australia Day, our shire and country recognise and honour the outstanding achievements of our citizens,” said Cr Machin.

“It is extraordinary to hear the stories of these inspiring individuals and how they give to our community in many different ways.

“Congratulations to all nominees and our Australia Day Award winners,” she said.

Maryanne Murdoch was recognised as Citizen of the Year for her work as a member of the Campbells Creek Fire Brigade.

“Maryanne has worked in the front line and behind the scenes as a long standing member of the CFA. Her ongoing hard work and dedication, often in dangerous situations, have earned Maryanne a number of state and national awards, as well as high praise and respect from her fellow volunteers,” said Cr Machin.

“Maryanne was awarded the National Fire Service Medal in 2014 for her contribution during Black Saturday. She has seen and experienced traumatic life and death events and continues to volunteer her time, skills and energy to providing this essential community service. Thank you Maryanne for your amazing contribution.”

Maryanne said it was a privilege and honour to receive the award.

“Being a volunteer with the CFA after 17 years, out and helping the community, I didn’t expect to receive such recognition,” she said.

Grace Saltmarsh from Campbells Creek was named Young Citizen of the Year for her energy and enthusiasm for many causes close to her heart.

“As well as caring for puppy seeing eye dogs, promoting student wellbeing and mental health, and supporting youth events, Grace has volunteered at the RSPCA Animal Care Centre, at Windarring Copy Centre, and in helping to deliver some of the biggest music and cultural events in our shire, the Castlemaine Jazz and Castlemaine State Festivals,” said Cr Machin.

Senior Citizen of the Year Ken McDougall from Harcourt has volunteered for the St Johns Ambulance for 50 years and has saved more than a few lives.

“Ken is a great example of someone who continuously gives to his community. As a founder of the Mount Alexander Division of St John Ambulance, Ken is dedicated to helping people in need and during times of crisis, as well as through training young people in the cadets.

“Ken is heavily involved with local sporting clubs. He was a founding member of the
Castlemaine Cycling Club, was instrumental in raising money to build the velodrome, and has been an active member of the Harcourt Football Club for 20 years.”

Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge was named Community Event of the Year. The popular event attracted more than 60 drivers of all ages after it was re-established after 14 years.

“The popular charity event was a hit with spectators, boosting Castlemaine’s reputation as the Billy Cart Capital of Australia.

“The event attracted a crowd of about 2,000 and raised funds for local suicide prevention and awareness group Every Life Matters. The event held during Mental Health Week helped build community connections and a sense of belonging for positive mental health,” said Cr Machin.

The judging panel also awarded three Special Mentions.

“Congratulations to Ian Higgins, the Castlemaine and Surrounds Repair Café and SteamPacket music event series held in Maldon. Your individual contributions each help make our shire a wonderful place to live,” said Cr Machin.

Council worked with local elder Uncle Rick Nelson and the Upper Loddon Indigenous group Nalderun to plan the Australia Day activities, including an acknowledgement of Survival Day led by Dja Dja Wurrung Elders.

The day started with a cleansing of the ceremonial area by indigenous women, before a Welcome to Country by local elders Uncle Rick Nelson and Aunty Paulette Nelson, with Alvyn Briggs on the didgeridoo.

During the cleansing, the women used the three sacred leaves of the Dja Dja Wurrung:

• The Manna Gum represented the Elders, because it is the tallest tree and sees all.
• The Black or Silver Wattle represented the produce of the land, because it is used for food, tools, clothes and weapons.
• The Cherry Ballart represented the Community, because the Ballart cannot grow unless it is attached to another tree.

After the Welcome to Country, four local residents stood before family and friends to pledge their loyalty to Australia in a special Citizenship Ceremony conferred by Mayor Bronwen Machin. As part of the ceremony, the new citizens received a blessing from Uncle Rick and Aunty Paulette to keep them safe on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

Guest speaker Aunty Kerri Douglas pondered the question – Is it Australia Day or Invasion Day? As an Aboriginal women who identifies as a Dja Dja Wurrung and Bangerang Traditional Owner, Aunty Kerri shared her opinion on why she believes 26 January is Survival Day, whether the date is changed the date or not.

“Throughout our Australian history past governments have made policies that have impacted us as a culture. Yet we are still here! Governments have tried to cleanse us of our blackness, breed us out, and stop us from practicing our beliefs, hunting and gathering. Yet we are still here,” said Aunty Kerri.

“Until the day comes when we can all accept white and black history of this country and that real Australians are welcoming, regardless of background, religion, colour or sexual preference, then we will never be a united Australia. To me today is Survival Day,” she said.

In the spirit of Survival Day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Aunty Kerri and the indigenous community invited everyone to gather with them on the Indigenous map for a yarn during lunch.

Thank you to all the community members, volunteers and staff who organised and helped celebrate Australia Day at Victory Park.

State Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards MP and Councillors Christine Henderson, Dave Petrusma and Tony Cordy presented the Australia Day Awards.

2018 Australia Day Awards Honour Roll

Read more about the Australia Day Awards

Read Aunty Kerri Douglas' speech.

More latest news...

Photo: 2018 Mount Alexander Australia Day Award Recipients. Pictured from left to right: State Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards MP with Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge organisers Camilo Demarco and Jane Goodrich, Grace Saltmarsh, Mayor Bronwen Machin, Maryanne Murdoch and Ken McDougall. Photo by Diana Domonkos.

Powered by