This year I only popped over and said hi to Fiona, Col and other locals gathered for their traditional slip and slide-sausage sizzle at the St Helens Gardens Tourist Park next door.
Normally I would have stayed all day, wondering if I would ever muster up the courage to cool off and head down the extra long slide, bubbles and all.
What a great site for the traffic as they head over our bridge on the Bruce Highway. Many beep their horns and give an Aussie Day wave.
But Not This Year!
One day recently I checked my P. O. Box and discovered a letter from the Mackay Regional Council. Grrr…Must be rates time again?
It was a letter saying I had been nominated for an:
Australia Day Award for contribution to the community!!
I was shocked as I stood out the front of the Calen Post Office on the Bruce Highway, reading that letter a couple of times before it sank in. Myself and a guest were invited to the Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre. (MECC) for the awards night.
I share this with you because of how inspired I felt.
Firstly for being nominated, but more-so during and after the event.
The room was full of people who work hard on their passions. Some had been at it for decades, and others, like me are just starting out. The atmosphere was lovely. I “frocked up” a bit, and even wore heels. My grandson called them short heels! They were wedges, but he is used to seeing his Aunty in super pointy high heels, so I guess mine were short in his view.
On arrival a young guy was playing the didgeridoo. During the other breaks a young girl was singing some soothing tunes in the background.
People were mingling and chatting, eating the nibblies from platters being handed around by MECC staff, and drinking the free beverages.
On the invite it said complimentary drink on arrival, so we were surprised to drink free all night.
The first Award of the evening was the Group Award. Our Calen District Progress & Sports Association was nominated and I was so proud to see our name up there on the big screen. The winners were the Road Accident Action Group “RAAG.”
As a regular on the Peak Downs Highway I know how hard RAAG works to keep motorists safe.
- Raising awareness.
- Encouraging safer driving.
- Setting up rest stops in busy times.
- Doing what they can to improve road conditions.
I think the most visual of all, is when they put signs on the road with pictures of different crash scenarios.
I have a video of these signs at the Retreat Hotel that I am trying to find for this post and you tube channel. Powerful stuff, certainly makes me try to be safer on the roads.
Congratulations to the members and sponsors of RAAG for your award.
They have also been in contact via email and encouraged us to keep moving forward with our Pedestrian Access over the St Helens Creek Bridge.
As the night progressed I watched on laughing, and even shedding the odd tear as people came up to receive their awards. Old and young, confident and shy, but all very passionate. Our Mayor, Diedre Cumerford, who was handing out the awards, did a great job coaxing a few words from these worthy recipients.
I think the story that pulled my heart strings the most was of the turtle couple in Sarina. As I remember the story, they have been walking the beaches, picking up plastic bags, protecting and helping the turtle eggs/hatchlings, doing research and forming a Turtle Group for the area for years.
Sadly the husband has become ill and needs a breathing machine, so he was missing out on his walks along the beach to help his beloved turtles. A 4 wheeler was donated to the group so he can now participate on the beach patrols with his wife, and his oxygen bottle.
Deserved winners I am sure you will agree?
Then came the individual award. As my last name starts with the letter ‘D’ I was up near the top of the big screen . It was strange to see my name up there with all the nominees. Of course I didn’t win, with stories like RAAG and the Turtle Couple to name just two, but it was an absolute honour to be nominated.
One more surprise was yet to come.
As the evening ended it was announced all nominees could collect a Eungella Bottlebrush from the foyer as we left.
This was where I caught up with Debbie Lamb from the Calen Post Office, and community fundraiser in our area, and Brian O’Neil, head master at Calen District State College. They too were nominated, so of course a photo was called for.
As you can see our bottlebrush were not small seedlings.
I was heading out to the Mackay nightlife with my daughter and Deb kindly offered to take mine home.
I felt strange enough being dressed up in my short heels and a frock, let alone on the town with my Eungella Bottlebrush!!
I did however take my two little Australia flags with me. When I left town in a cab I gave them to a couple of young girls near the taxi rank. I told them to stay safe and of course “happy Australia Day. ” They said they too were heading home shortly. Good girls.
In closing I want to say that I think this event is a must do at least once and deserves a place on the bucket list. My plan is too try and go every year, even if I am not nominated for an Australia Day Award, I want to support those that are.
What do you do for your community?
It’s the little things that add up. Buy a few raffle tickets, share up coming events and news on social media, and much more. Awards like these are there to showcase how fantastic our country is at giving a mate a hand and helping out in all sorts of ways, from turtles to travelers and far beyond.
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I also welcome comments on each of these posts, and I look forward to hearing what you did on Australia Day?