A tourism association which has built a remarkable trailhead at Blackbutt has taken out this year’s Community Organisation of the Year Award.
This award recognises an outstanding achievement by a group, club or organisation that has made a notable contribution to the community during 2017.
The Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association still pinch themselves at the successful launch and unveiling of the Roy Stanley Emerson statue in Blackbutt on January 18 last year.
After two years of hard work, sweet talking the tennis fraternity and large businesses for support, fund raising, negotiating designs, and asking for donations small and large, the life-size bronze statue now stands proudly adjacent to their museum next to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail at Blackbutt.
Over 300 guests attended the statue’s official unveiling, with many travelling from across Australia, Europe and the USA to witness this small group’s goal of honouring a “Blackbutt Boy”.
The occasion also gave Roy Emerson’s colleagues, friends and relatives a public occasion to honour his outstanding tennis achievements.
Tennis greats such as Wendy Turnbull, Ashley Cooper and Mal Anderson shared their stories of Roy as a junior and senior player.
Those unable to attend but who hold him in high regard such as Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Geoff Masters, Daphne and Trevor Fancutt and playwright Hugh Lunn, sent messages to be read out.
The occasion was topped off with Roy himself, between tears of joy, telling stories with his usual wicked sense of humour about the antics he and his fellow players got up to during their touring days.
Blackbutt now showcases a unique and outstanding tourist attraction, believed to be a first for the South Burnett.
To further add value to this achievement, the statue has a unique connection to Brisbane City Council’s Brisbane Tennis Trail where it can promote and encourage international tourists to visit Blackbutt and the South Burnett.
The benefits of this achievement will be felt in the region for years to come.
In addition to the unveiling of the statue and the ongoing development of the Roy Emerson Museum, Nukku Nook siding and railhead gardens, the Association has coordinated other events during 2017 such as the Googa Googa Creek Bush Picnic and the Back to Benarkin Bush Picnic.
Each of these events has created windows for the Association to gather and understand more of the region’s history.
Other nominees were:
- Murgon Men’s Shed – The Murgon Men’s Shed opened three years ago at the former Murgon Railway Station, and has steadily been expanding its facility and the activities offered to men to support their mental health and social interactions. Leading by example and helping the broader community in numerous practical ways, membership has now increased to over 50 as a result of their “good neighbour” activities. Members have been involved in running BBQs at community events such as the Christmas Fair, holding workshops, seminars, information events, health seminars, hosting the opening of the Kingaroy to Murgon section of the South Burnett Rail Trail and many more. The group are working on numerous restoration projects, some of which are then used to support other community activities. Restored tractors, German wagons, buckboards and sulkys all find a new life transporting Santa or other passengers for local events.
- Wondai Parkrun – Responding to alarming statistics by Queensland Health and seizing the multiple opportunities the South Burnett Rail Trail created for towns located along it, the Wondai Park Run has been increasing the number of runners and walkers involved since it began in January 2017. Participants’ ages range from 7 to 79 and up to 129 runners at a time have enjoyed non-competitive running over distances up to five kilometres in length along the sealed and safe South Burnett Rail Trail. The Wondai Park Run is organised by volunteers and it does not charge a fee to participate, but it is proud of the sense of community it is building between the participants, who all come from different areas of the South Burnett. Participants contribute to the Wondai economy through purchasing breakfast, coffee and petrol at local business and staying on for the monthly Wondai Markets. Parkrun itself is a worldwide event and travelling South Burnett runners can participate anywhere there is a group.
- Blackbutt Singers Over the past 26 years the Blackbutt Singers have been creating a stronger and happier South Burnett community through their gift of choral singing. The group sing in nursing homes across the South Burnett and are special guests at community events and fundraisers. Their highlight performance for 2017 was starring at the re-opening of the Blackbutt Hall. The group is lead by a committed group of long standing volunteers from diverse backgrounds, and the Blackbutt Singers contribute to the health, social and emotional wellbeing of both their members and audience.
- Kingaroy Christmas Carnival Committee – This committee continues to restore positivity and bring the Kingaroy community together around its annual Christmas carnival. Under the leadership of local identity Craig Lucas, they have not just rescued the carnival but revitalised it, developing additional and new activities to maintain visitor support and harnessing the generosity of sponsors and media to ensure that it grows year to year. With a growing member and support base, the 2017 event was a huge success, again backed by the generosity of Supa IGA Kingaroy.
- Murgon Junior Rugby League Club – A massive 2017 for the Murgon Junior Rugby League Club saw the club win two out of three grand finals, raise the club’s junior membership by 25 per cent and win a National Award. The centre stage spotlight was thrown on Murgon because of the club’s initiative to host an event that brought community, club members, national identities, government and service organisations and businesses together to demonstrate their commitment to addressing the communities concerns about domestic violence. The event was named the Domestic Violence Round and included guest speakers such as Robert de Castella and the White Ribbon Association with full participation by Murgon and Cherbourg clubs, including the A grade men’s club. The day included three games of the Sunshine Coast Women’s Competition as well as entertainment to maintain young people’s engagement throughout the day. It was supported by the Queensland Government’s Department of Communities and local businesses, so the day was able to be delivered with free entry, free rides and free of alcohol. Both club’s messages – that there is no excuse for domestic abuse and that we must stop violence against women and children – were clearly demonstrated at the event, and planning is already underway for a similar event in 2018. Another highlight of the year was a trip to Sydney, with the club winning the 2017 NRL Grassroots Club of the Year. This national award recognised the efforts of the club with respect to inclusiveness, social conscious and its promotion of participation. The club in partnership with the Kingaroy Junior Rugby League club has won the rights to host the 2018 Zone 5, U10 Rugby league Carnival in July 2018. This will bring over 800 people to the area and create an economic boost for local businesses.
- Nanango and District Netball Association – The Nanango and District Netball Association is reaping the benefits of making some very tough decisions a few years ago that closing was not the right solution to a rapidly deteriorating and expensive to replace court surface at their headquarters in Nanango. That decision lead to several benefits, such as more players joining from other South Burnett towns, including Cherbourg, and creating an environment to align volunteers, parents and players with the code of conduct for netball. Thanks to this decision three full Nanango representative teams are back playing in carnivals under the Nanango club’s banner. The club’s achievements during 2017 include the implementation of a strategic plan; reinstatement of social, fun adult nights; doubling the membership of the club; support from the PCYC to allow more indigenous players to participate; participating in or hosting umpire development programs, coaching clinics with former NZ National Coach Leigh Gibbs, player workshops with Brisbane Lions Players; developing a sponsorship prospectus for games; host numerous fundraiser events to achieve the club’s goal of resurfacing the courts; and supporting cancer fundraisers and local rallies.
- Wondai API Society – The 100th annual Wondai Show was held during 2017 and was opened by the Governor of Queensland, Mr Paul de Jersey. The Show saw record attendance, which was helped by the inclusion of new events such as a Tractor Pull. The 2017 Show set a new gate receipts record for the Association. It was also widely acknowledged by visitors and patrons that the 2017 show was the most outstanding ever experienced in Wondai, and this was largely thanks to local South Burnett business who contributed prize money and displayed their wares. The outstanding effort of the committee in presenting the grounds immaculately and refurbishing and repairing buildings has reinforced that the volunteer spirit and pride held dear by the Wondai community has a long and happy life ahead.
- Rotary Club of Murgon – Motivated by the motto “Making a Difference”, the Rotary Club of Murgon has continued to assist the Murgon community with events, financial assistance for special projects and promote the liveability of the South Burnett to visitors. Aided by the success of their two major events – the Barambah Bush Bash and the Murgon Music Muster – the club has helped a wide range of international, national and local groups with funds, including the Murgon Palliative Care Unit and Heart Kids. Additional benefits include the economic boost attendees to these major events make to local businesses. The Bush Bash contributed over $10,000 and the Muster, $30,000 to businesses and institutions throughout the South and North Burnett. In 2017 Gina Jeffrey headlined the Murgon Music Muster, which saw 249 vans park up at the event and in the surrounding areas. The club is
committed to promoting all the South Burnett has to offer and their events are designed to encourage visitors to experience our region’s attractions, food and wine and historical sights while they are here.