Mt McEuen resident Alan Eagleson has been named the 2024 South Burnett Citizen of the Year

January 21, 2024

Murgon Show Society president Alan Eagleson – a familiar face with his coffee van at so many events around the South Burnett – has been named the region’s 2024 Australia Day Citizen of the Year.

Alan was presented with his award during a special ceremony held in Kumbia Hall on Sunday afternoon.

Alan may make great coffee, but it was work supporting struggling farmers for which he was recognised, particularly the recent South Burnett hay drive organised in conjunction with Lions District 201 Q4.

The Junior Citizen of the Year is Saint Mary’s Catholic College Year 12 student Mia De Guzman who has been turning heads internationally with her achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Guest speaker at the event, organised by the South Burnett Regional Council, was Australia Day Ambassador Elijah Buol OAM.

Mr Buol, who arrived in Australia as an unaccompanied minor from South Sudan in 2002, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2019 for his service to the African community of Queensland, and was the 2019 Queensland Local Hero of the Year.

He has been a director of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, vice-president of the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland and is a member of several government and not-for-profit boards and advisory committees.

Mr Buol said Australia Day was an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come as Australians.

“We all come together from different parts of the world to call Australia home,” he said.

He said Australia was a place where people could aspire to dream.

Mr Buol praised the work of volunteers who helped to create a vibrant society.

“They do it from the heart,” he said.

He reminded the crowd that the future did not belong to the people of today, but to those that will come after us.

“It is our responsibility to build that foundation,” Mr Buol said.

“The steps that we take today define tomorrow.”

Footnote: Despite what has been claimed on social media, the South Burnett Regional Council’s Australia Day Awards have been held on the weekend before Australia Day for several years, and before that were held on the evening of January 25. Announcing the winners prior to January 26 allows the award recipients to be recognised again on the day in their own town’s individual Australia Day events.

2024 Year 12 student Mia De Guzman is the South Burnett’s Young Citizen of the Year

[Below is an edited transcript of the nominations read out on Sunday afternoon]

* * *

South Burnett Citizen of the Year

(Presented by Acting Mayor Gavin Jones)

This award recognises a South Burnett resident who has made a valuable contribution to their community and/or given outstanding service to the South Burnett community over a number of years.

South Burnett Citizen of the Year Alan Eagleson was presented with his award by Acting Mayor Gavin Jones

Nominees: Alan Eagleson, Wondai; Amy Wicks, Murgon; David Mollenhauer, Wondai; Graham Mitchell, Wondai; Sonia McMahon, Murgon; Stephen Copas, Wooroolin

  • Alan Eagleson has devoted the past 20 years to helping struggling local farmers across the region. Recently, he was involved in helping farmers during the dry season, using his property and equipment to load hay donated by a District Lions Club. Alan and his wife Pat have also been involved in organising a pantry outstation at Tablelands Hall by working in with the South Burnett Pantry. They also helped feed BlazeAid volunteers after two flood events. Alan has also worked with the Taabinga Rotary Club and AgForce to raise and distribute funds for farmers for many years. Alan is also president of the Murgon Show Society which is gearing up for their 100th show this year.
  • Amy Wicks is the co-founder of Wicks and Co Agencies which provides much-needed sponsorship and donations to Murgon and surrounding areas. Amy is on numerous management committees and boards which all contribute back to the region. These include show societies, Queensland Ag Shows and Next Generation, Nanango Soccer Club, Kumbia & Cooyar Campdraft, Kumbia and Murgon Kindergarten and various school P&Cs. Amy is also a past director of the Red Earth Community Foundation and served for two years on the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN Community Advisory Committee. Currently Amy’s volunteer roles include Company Secretary of South Burnett Community Enterprises Limited (Bendigo Bank board), secretary of Murgon Meals on Wheels, an executive member and recently appointed president of the Murgon Business Development Association. Amy recently finished a two-year appointment on the Wide Bay-Burnett Fraser Coast Community Forum where she helped advocate for the region’s needs and priorities to shape positive changes. In early 2023, Amy was selected to participate in the nation-wide Graeme Acton Beef Connections program.
  • David Mollenhauer works tirelessly as president of the Murgon Men’s Shed. He has donated his time to the Shed and local community for years. He is the driving force behind the Shed’s projects and spends dozens of hours each week on this endeavour.
  • Graham Mitchell has volunteered his time and talent to be part of the Wondai QCWA Choir for many years, initially as a member and then for a number of years as choir master and pianist. Graham is often called upon to play the piano for functions and the organ at funerals at the Uniting Church. Graham is also a founding member of the Wondai Garden Expo Committee and volunteers his time as social media officer to ensure the Expo’s Facebook page is updated. He is heavily involved in the organisation of the Garden Expo and is a member of the South Burnett Beautification Committee. Through his small local business (Dimities Cottage) he shares information with tourists about the area, its attractions and events. Graham also supports Wondai organisations eg. donations to the Wondai State School, hosting The Biggest Morning Tea, Louise Winton (the South Burnett Diva raising money for cancer), cooking for the disabled community, the Wondai Hospital Fete, the Wondai Show Society, the Rainbow Beach Drought Runners and the Mondure Hall Committee, just to name a few. He supports the Wondai Art Gallery by providing music at their opening nights, exhibiting his art work in both planned and unplanned short notice exhibitions. He is also a member of the Wondai Business Association where he is responsible for sharing updates regarding the beautification projects.
  • Sonia McMahon is the band director and founder of Rockin’ our Abilities. More than 20 people with disabilities are part of the Murgon-based group who sing and dance alongside their dedicated disability support workers at the Murgon Uniting Church. Sonia has brought music and fun to local people with disabilities, many of whom have never been on a stage or had an opportunity to showcase their abilities.
  • Stephen Copas has lived in the South Burnett for more than 30 years. During this time he has shown his dedication to the community over and over again. Stephen is Lieutenant of the Wooroolin Auxiliary Fire Brigade, president of Football South Burnett and vice-president of the Kingaroy Senior Soccer club. Over the years he has coached both senior and junior soccer teams. He volunteers his time to maintain the fields. He is also a truck driver for a local company and a dairy farmer. He volunteers at the local speedway in the canteen. He has raised eight children in Wooroolin with his wife Kim and is a true blue Aussie who would give the shirt of his back to anyone who needed it.

WINNER: Alan Eagleson

Citizen of the Year nominees Alan Eagleson, Amy Wicks, David Mollenhauer, Graham Mitchell, Sonia McMahon and Stephen Copas

* * *

Young Citizen of the Year 

(Presented by Australia Day Ambassador Elijah Buol OAM)

This award recognises an individual under 25 years of age at January, 22, 2024, who displays ongoing excellence in their field and in the community, demonstrating leadership and innovation whilst contributing to the development of the South Burnett region.

Mia De Guzman was presented with the Young Citizen of the Year Award by Australia Day Ambassador Elijah Buol OAM

Nominees: Jean-Luc Barnett, Josh Steinhardt and Mia De Guzman 

  • Jean-Luc Barnett has contributed in a variety of ways during his time at Nanango State High School. He has been elected as this year’s Manumbar Sports House Captain and a Peer Skills Leader, and was the 2023 Pedal Prix Captain, spending many afternoons and weekends working on Pedal Prix vehicles. For the past three years, he has been an active volunteer with the high school’s Brekky Club where he regularly assists in preparing and delivering breakfasts across the school. Jean-Luc has also been an active participant in all sports carnivals and he has participated in BP Shield events, Vicki Wilson netball and rugby league, as well as representing the school in Cross Country. Jean-Luc also completed Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards as well as achieving academic and cultural recognition during his time at the school. He is a highly respected role model for his peers, receiving the Prix D’Honneur (Honour Award) which is presented annually by the teaching staff to a senior student who has displayed outstanding qualities of leadership, co-operation and service to the school community.
  • Josh Steinhardt was Murgon State High School Captain and is a role model for other young students in the way that he conducts himself as a community leader at the school, and with his involvement in the community outside school hours. Josh singlehandedly ran the Stud Beef section at the Murgon Show which is proving to be a major success story with large entries in the Stud Beef, Young Judges and Junior handler sections. Josh also helps run the Prime Trade cattle section at the Proston Show, and put his hand up to fill the role of Farm Produce Steward at the Wondai Show, as well as assisting in the Stud Beef ring. In 2023 Josh was selected as the Junior Rural Ambassador for Wondai Show and will compete in the South Burnett Sub-Chamber finals in 2024. Josh is a wonderful young ambassador for the region, shining in both his school work and service to the community.
  • Mia De Guzman is a 2024 Year 12 student and student vice-captain at Saint Mary’s Catholic College in Kingaroy. She has participated in several national and international STEM competitions. Mia was selected to participate in the 2022-2023 Curious Minds Initiative, hosted by Australian Science Innovators and the Australian Maths Trust, which included an online camp in December 2022, six months of personal mentoring with a coach in STEM across 2023 and a residential camp at the University of Adelaide in the last week of the June/July school holidays. Mia was then selected to participate in The Coding School’s Introduction to Quantum Computing course, an international program provided by quantum researchers at MIT,  Oxford University, and UC Berkeley, on a full scholarship. This gave her the opportunity to be among the first high school students in the world to develop skills in quantum computing. Mia was encouraged to apply for this prestigious opportunity by the Physics Co-ordinator at the Curious Minds camp. Mia was also accepted into the National Youth Science Forum Year 12 Program for 2024 which was run at the University of Queensland campus in Brisbane during January and attended by other like-minded students from all over Australia. Mia was supported in this endeavour by the Rotary Club of Kingaroy.

WINNER: Mia De Guzman

Young Citizen of the Year nominees Josh Steinhardt and Mia De Guzman

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Community Organisation of the Year

(Presented by Australia Day Ambassador Elijah Buol OAM)

This award recognises an outstanding achievement by a group, club or organisation that has made a notable contribution to the community during 2023.

The Community Organisation of the Year Award was presented to the Blackbutt District Community Organisation … Judy Lawrence and Sue Dredge accepted it from Australia Day Ambassador Elijah Buol OAM

Nominees: 55 Million Years Ago, Murgon; Proston & District Heritage Association; South Burnett CTC; Blackbutt District Community Organisation; CROW-FM; Kingaroy Sport Fishing Club; Nanango & District Netball Association; Lions Club of Benarkin & Blackbutt; Proston Local Ambulance Committee; and Rotary Satellite Club of Kingaroy Sunrise

  • 55 Million Years Ago … rarely have so many people from so many different walks of life worked so hard together to make a dream come true. From its conception through to its official opening last year, dozens of people have worked tirelessly to create this extraordinary facility in the heart of Murgon. In the late 1980s, fossils found near Boat Mountain rocked the palaeontology world with the discovery of 15 new species which were found to be 55 million years old. These fossils could well have remained in one of the larger museums in south-east Queensland instead of rocketing the South Burnett region into the spotlight. None of this could have happened without the four people who created the Creative Country Association (CCA), a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organisation that has moved mountains to raise the necessary funds to bring Murgon’s fossil experience to life.  It was a hard task for such a small committee to bring the dream to reality and at a time when spirits were flagging, local community champion Leo Geraghty OAM provided the enthusiasm to get the project over the finish line. Five years after the first meeting of CCA, the venue was officially opened by Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien on October 2. The centre is now staffed between 9:00am-4:00pm, seven days each week. The complex includes an interactive Fossil Museum, art gallery, gift shop, visitor information centre and workshop surrounding a central garden. Visitors can sit on chairs placed around this “Prehistoric Garden” which features models of extinct Australian animals. This is a world class venue which will bring visitors from all over the world to the South Burnett.
  • Proston & District Heritage Association was nominated for the Proston 100th Centenary Celebration event which was held from September 29-October 1, 2023. This hard-working organisation demonstrates the true local spirit that makes Australia great. They worked over a long period to draw together the history of the area and successfully share it with everyone. Residents past and present were engaged with the events, including the street parade, the history of dressmaking in Proston exhibition, markets, Proston school time capsule, “It’s A Knockout” celebration event and much more. The creation and printing of a “History of Proston” book meant people could take away a keepsake of this important date in Proston’s history. It didn’t matter where you went in the town, the number of people, caravans, tents and cars was a constant reminder of how popular the event was and how much effort was required to make it happen.
  • South Burnett CTC has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to creating a positive impact within the community. Their dedication to the well-being of youth, families, and individuals in need is truly exceptional and deserves recognition. South Burnett CTC offers a diverse range of programs that cater to a wide spectrum of needs. Their dedication and hard work are exemplified by their many initiatives which have enriched the lives of countless individuals and families. Their remarkable programs and services include residential services for at-risk youth; Partners in Foster Care; youth programs such as Fusion and Next Steps; a youth hostel for homeless or at-risk youth; domestic and family violence services; Family and Child Connect; Intensive Family Support; disability services; The Gumnut Place;  Cherbourg Night Patrol; homelessness support; Sustaining Tenancies Program and Emergency Relief.
  • The Blackbutt District Community Organisation has strived to fulfil its mission of creating a cohesive community, promoting positive growth and social interaction. Its three major projects for 2023 were the continued creation and maintenance of the parklands,  gathering information and printing the Community Directory, and the planting of the Avenue of Trees along the Rail Trail in Blackbutt. The projects have been the culmination of networking with many groups and businesses. This was evidenced at the recent tree planting where nine community groups were represented by their members to plant the 58 trees and agreed to care for them. This event gave the volunteers of the various groups an opportunity to work together for a common cause ie the beautification of the town. This avenue will enhance the already established parklands along the Rail Trail and will present an attractive view for visitors and locals attending events at the Hall, the Showgrounds or along the Rail Trail. This organisation, comprised of a small group of very active volunteers, is to be congratulated on its achievements and its success in connecting other organisations for the benefit of the residents of Blackbutt and surrounds.
  • Community radio station CROW-FM 90.7 provides up-to-the minute emergency updates during emergencies to help the community stay informed and safe. CROW-FM provides free or low-cost services to the people and groups throughout the region wherever possible and supports local businesses and organisations wholeheartedly. Chantal Harth and the crew are a valued community organisation.
  • The Kingaroy Sport Fishing Club is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1985 when it was known as “The Broadway Fishing Club”. The club offers assistance to the public with their fishing knowledge, however its utmost ambition is to ensure “the future of fishing” is promoted so the sport is around for our children to enjoy. Members have always been very energetic in representing their club in away events such as the Australian National Sportfishing Association Fish Fest. The club was very proud to have been the first inland freshwater club to host this prestigious event in late 2022 which brought people from all over Queensland to Boondooma Dam. During 2023, members earned the following awards: State Freshwater Champion, State Saltwater Champion and fifth Qld Interclub Champion Club. There were also many other individual junior and senior achievements. As well, a member was elected president of the Qld Branch of the Australian National Sportfishing Association for 2023-24. The KSFC also holds an annual event where club members donate their time to investigate an Australian iconic fish, the saratoga. The club also tags native species to assist in the management of water conditions, fish growth and movement.
  • Nanango & District Netball Association provides girls and boys aged 5 to 10-years-old with the opportunity to experience and participate in netball with the Woolworths NetSetGO program. The association also runs a junior competition for girls and boys aged 11-16. Number numbers increased in this age group in 2023 which allowed the club to provide a four-team competition (40 registered players) for the first time in more than five years. The club piloted Netball Queensland’s “Little Nettys” program in 2022 and was proud to offer Phase 2 of the program to three and four-year-olds in 2023 (with 15 children registered).  There was also a resurgence of club members on the representative netball stage, with an U16 team attending the Netball Queensland Senior State Age competition on the Sunshine Coast, as well as an U13 team heading to Townsville for Netball Queensland’s Junior State Age competition. The association was proud to provide free carnival opportunities to players aged 8-16 attending carnivals in Chinchilla, Kingaroy, Condamine, Gayndah, Mundubbera, Monto, Warwick and Highfields. The club also hosted the Darling Downs Netball GO Carnival, which included teams from Maranoa, Warwick, Kingaroy and Chinchilla. Through this, the association facilitated the running of a pre-season clinic with Australian Diamonds superstar Gretel Bueta and Emma Tickner for 9 to 16-year-olds. Players from Blackbutt, Yarraman, Nanango, Maidenwell, Kingaroy, Wondai and Cherbourg attended. Inclusive uniform options were introduced for all players. They now have the option to wear either a singlet or polo shirt, as well as skirt, bike pants or shorts to train and play in for the club uniform. The association was also proud to provide every registered player in 2023 with a free netball visor and socks to alleviate some of the financial hardships afflicting many families. The club also provided free training opportunities for players and volunteers in coaching, umpiring and first aid; and secured more than $100,000 in grant funding to upgrade equipment and facilities.
  • The Lions Club of Blackbutt Benarkin is a small group of committed, hardworking volunteers who do outstanding work within their community. They run events and projects throughout the year that benefit local schools and other community organisations. The Lions run a monthly market at Les Muller Park which is well attended by 25-plus stallholders (and fans say they make the best burgers in the South Burnett). The Lions are always available to help out other organisations in town and volunteer their services to the local P&Cs, QCWA, rugby league and Community Hub, to name a few. They assist with the homeless by providing food vouchers, clothing, personal care packs and non-judgmental emotional support. For the past 19 years they have provided a free Seniors Christmas Lunch that caters for about 120-140 seniors. They also provide a free All Ages Community Christmas Festival that over the years has grown to be a well-attended event that the local community looks forward to. “Where there is a need, there is a Lion” is the motto that the Lions Club of Blackbutt Benarkin lives year in and year out. All funds raised from their service projects goes back into the community. The Lions were proud to be involved with the Blackbutt Bands Together fundraiser in 2023 which raised more than $35,000. This money was distributed to the victims of the major flooding that occurred in south-east Queensland. On December 3, 2023, the club again hosted Blackbutt Bands Together with the Hotel Radnor to raise much-needed funds for the victims of the recent fires in the South Burnett and southern Queensland.
  • Proston Local Ambulance Committee (LAC) members attend many community events, such as Under 8s Day, Proston Christmas Carnival and Show, Proston Centenary and local health forums. The LAC raises funds for local ambulance officers to buy equipment that is not provided to them by QAS and also for the use in the community, such as the automated external defibrillator located outside the Ambulance Station. The LAC also attends events to provide education and awareness to the community and provide educational resources such as snake bite and first aid information and CPR demonstrations. When possible, the LAC also brings along Axel, a mini-ambulance for children, to educate them about an ambulance. In 2023, the LAC raised funds for a Raizer lifting chair to reduce the amount of time to get someone to hospital. An ambulance officer can use this chair to lift a person without calling for back-up as Proston is a one-person station. Adult and Baby mannequins have also been bought to be used at CPR classes that the LAC helps to run. Every year they also make a donation to the QAS Legacy fund.
  • The Rotary Satellite Club of Kingaroy Sunrise was launched in July 2022 as an adjunct to the Rotary Club of Kingaroy. It offers an alternative way to participate in the local community, while offering a different style of membership and engagement. It meets twice a month at the KCCI Hub and runs and participates in several events a year. It also offers networking and service opportunities to members, including the ONF and ATC Charity Golf Day. At the club’s launch, work began with the Suitcase Parade, raising funds and purchasing new suitcases for children in the local foster care system (children are often moved within the foster care system with their few items transported in rubbish bags). In April 2023, the club held the inaugural South Burnett Training Awards at Kingaroy Town Hall. This event is a celebration of vocational learning and meets a need in our community to celebrate training. The 2023 event was held in partnership with the Rotary Club of Kingaroy, which funded the Pride of Workmanship awards which were presented to eight awardees. There were more than 130 people at the awards night which recognised School Based Trainees and School Based Apprentices, Trainee of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Equity Award. The success of this event has drawn the attention of the State Government with the State Regional Training Awards being attracted to Kingaroy in July 2024 as a result of the work done by the Rotary Satellite Club of Kingaroy Sunrise. Members have also assisted projects such as Relay for Life.

WINNER: Blackbutt District Community Organisation

Leo Geraghty and Richie O’Neill from 55 Million Years Ago museum and art gallery

Sue Dredge and Judy Lawrence from the Blackbutt District Community Organisation
John Atkins, Linda Little, Colleen Callaghan and Tracy and Damon Bishop from the Lions Club of Blackbutt Benarkin
Wayne Stenning, Troy Litzow, Carolyn Barritt and Karen Bradwell from the Kingaroy Sport Fishing Club

Zara Douglass, Norma Harch and Ada Kurz from the Nanango & District Netball Association

CEO Jason Erbacher and chairman John Box from South Burnett CTC
Linda Rea; Anita, Nicholas and Walt Blanch; Brenda Johanson and Kathy Crane from the Proston & District Heritage Association
David Hunter, Ray Dionysius, Laine Robertson and Margaret Westerman from the Proston Local Ambulance Committee
Leonie McGregor, Chantal Harth and Sonia McMahon from CROW-FM
Cr Danita Potter and Nicola and Mark Pitt from the Rotary Satellite Club of Kingaroy Sunrise

* * *

Volunteer of the Year 

(Presented by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington) 

This award recognises a volunteer community member who has made a valuable contribution to their community, club or organisation and/or given outstanding service over a number of years.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington with Volunteer of the Year nominees Betty James, Carmel Parnell, Gloria Fleming, Lin Chandler and Tina Torrens

Nominees: Andrew McDonnell, Proston; Betty James, Nanango; Carmel Parnell, Coverty; Gloria Fleming, Nanango; Julie Lohmann, Wondai; Lin Chandler, Proston; Nicky Watkins, Murgon; and Tina Torrens, Kingaroy

  • Andrew McDonnell is a dedicated volunteer of the Proston Men’s Shed and most recently took on the role of president. Through the Men’s Shed, Andrew has contributed to many community events, including making furniture for Proston’s 100 Year anniversary event. He has played a significant role with past Proston Men’s Shed presidents to help the shed to get up and running. He is outgoing and friendly and offers a helping hand to all that come through the Shed’s door.
  • Betty James has proven over and over during this year and in the past that age, race, religion and status in life matters little when you’re in need of a helping hand. She has been known to give her own lunch to the homeless on our streets. Despite her age and current health, she tirelessly managers the daily volunteers for the Op shops, arranges hampers for people in need, sorts and arranges unwanted items to be sent overseas to less fortunate countries, bus trips for the elderly and homes for the homeless. Her job is a selfless, mostly unrecognised and a tiring one at times but this does not deter her in the slightest.
  • Carmel Parnell is a dedicated volunteer for the Proston community with the Proston Round Table, local shops, Proston Heritage Committee and much more. Carmel selflessly gives her time to those in need and never takes anything in return.
  • Gloria Fleming is a highly respected, long-term resident of Nanango. Her community contribution has been invaluable over many decades with her involvement including co-ordinator of the Nanango Showgirl competition, Patron of Nanango Show, vice-president of the Nanango Historical Society, tuckshop convenor for Nanango Junior Rugby League, group leader and convenor for Nanango SHS & Nanango SS tuckshops, treasurer of the Nanango Rugby League, treasurer of the Nanango Pioneer Festival, vice-president of the Nanango Mid-Week Ladies Tennis Association, and president of the Nanango Asthma Foundation. Gloria has made, and continues to make, an outstanding contribution to our community in her voluntary capacity. She is a quiet achiever, who has undertaken her voluntary work with great commitment and integrity.
  • Julie Lohmann has volunteered with the Wondai RSL Sub-Branch Citizen’s Auxiliary and through her role has fundraised and helped to organise many events, including Anzac Day and Remembrance Day memorabilia sales, the yearly Melbourne Cup luncheon and the 2023 Wondai Reserve Forces Day which was attended by the Governor-General Dr Jeannette Young. Julie has contributed to her local community significantly in 2023 with some highlights including the involvement in the Steaming Back to Wondai event which marked 120 years since the arrival of the first passenger train in 1903. Julie also assisted with the land search at Ballogie where she transported meals for the search crews. She finds it very rewarding to assist others in the community and is a very enthusiastic, energetic and willing volunteer.
  • Lin Chandler tirelessly gives back to her community with her music, organising and carting speakers and music for local markets including Proston, Hivesville and the show carnival each year. Lin is also an integral part of the Proston Show, helping for hours in the kitchen. She also organised the music on stage for the Centenary in Proston and supplied equipment without financial assistance.  She also dedicated hours to the search for local man Luke Fergusson, both by walking the paddocks and organising cooking for the searchers.
  • Nicky Watkins is a quietly spoken, down-to-earth person who generously volunteers her time and energy to support five groups across the South Burnett. In 2023, she volunteered her time at the Murgon Music Muster, was treasurer of the Murgon Independent Lifestyle Project Inc, the South Burnett Relay for Life and CROW-FM. However, one of Nicky’s most significant volunteer roles is with Rockin’ Our Abilities which is music program run for people with disabilities. Nicky works tirelessly taking photographs, promoting their events and is always the first to arrive to offer a hand and always the last to leave. She does everything for her community, selflessly, expecting nothing in return.
  • Small business owner Tina Torrens is passionate about growing and promoting the South Burnett region. She has been a driving force behind many initiatives, including Kingaroy BaconFest, the Blackbutt Avocado Festival, Farm to Fork Collective, Taste the Trail and many many more. Tina donates her time in the background for countless community groups and businesses that need that little extra support or just kind encouragement. Never seeking any recognition or praise, Tina does what she does because she has a giving spirit and deep love for her community.

WINNER: Nicky Watkins 

* * *

Junior Cultural Award

(Presented by Cr Kirstie Schumacher) 

This award is presented to an individual 17 years of age and under at January 22, 2024, who is making a significant contribution to the cultural life of the South Burnett.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher with Junior Cultural Award winner Cooper Mollenhauer

Nominee: Cooper Mollenhauer, Kingaroy

  • Cooper Mollenhauer has been part of the Kingaroy State High School Instrumental Music program since July 2022, after transferring from Murgon, where he had been part of Instrumental program since Year 5. He plays the tuba in the KSHS Symphonic Band and bass trombone and sousaphone in the KSHS Stage Band. He is also a member of the South Burnett Community Orchestra and the Barambah Big Band where he plays trombone. He played piano with the KSHS Men’s Choir performance at FLAIR. Cooper was also selected for the Creative Generation Excellence Awards in Instrumental Music. Cooper had the opportunity to perform in a vocal group, a wind orchestra and a symphony orchestra. Cooper represented KSHS at the State Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP) in Toowoomba in May and in September 2023 and was selected into the Australian Honours Ensemble Program for tuba.

WINNER: Cooper Mollenhauer

* * *

Senior Cultural Award

(Presented by Cr Danita Potter and Cr Kathy Duff) 

This award is presented to a nominee over 18 years of age at January 22, 2024, who is making a significant contribution to the cultural life of the South Burnett.

Cr Danita Potter, left, and Cr Kathy Duff, right, with joint Senior Cultural Award winners Sue  Dowideit-Reiger and Craig Reiger

Nominees: Alison Walker, Kingaroy; Craig Reiger & Sue Dowideit-Reiger, Kingaroy; Dean Perrett, Nanango; Joe Skok, Nanango; and Jon Fearnley, Nanango

  • Ally Walker has been the director and principal teacher at the Ally Walker Dance Academy since 2006. Since then she has trained more than 1500 students from the South Burnett region. Ally has been employed at Saint Mary’s Catholic College for the past two years inspiring young people’s love of dance. In her time at the school, the number of students who have picked dance increased and this is due to her love and passion for dance. Ally involves her dance studio and college students in many competitions so they can demonstrate what they have learnt and provide community enjoyment. Her studio provides dance classes for all ages (two years to adult), all abilities and dance styles, as well as providing the opportunities for students to study Certificate I, II and/or III in Dance
  • Husband and wife Craig Reiger and Sue Dowideit-Reiger are heavily involved in the South Burnett Musical Comedy Society. Last year they persuaded the Society to produce the musical “Annie Jr” as a Youth Theatre Project – the first time this has been done in the South Burnett – with the aim of helping to build a troupe of younger SBMCS members by introducing them to performing in musical comedy. The production engaged 18 talented young children aged eight to 18, who practised for 10 weeks before giving three “in the round” performances at the Kingaroy Performing Arts Centre to critical acclaim. Craig and Sue have directed and/or performed in many shows over the past decade, using their musical skills and teaching abilities to train hundreds of performers. Sue has also performed at many Council functions over the years (as well as at Anzac Day events for the Kingaroy-Memerambi RSL Sub-Branch) and Craig has sat on Council’s Arts Advisory Committee since it was formed. Both share a deep commitment to the performing arts and have made a significant contribution to our region’s creative industries.
  • Dean Perrett is a successful bush ballad and traditional country music artist. He won his sixth Australian Country Music Association Bush Ballad of the Year Golden Guitar in 2023. He is awaiting results for his nomination for the 2024 finals to be announced. Dean also loves to mentor up and coming artists and younger generations to chase their dreams. He has also been involved in the committee for the Heritage Nanango Country Music Muster since it began 20 years ago.
  • Joe Skok (probably better known by his nom de plume of Charlie Spagalli) is a local photographer and videographer who freely gives his time to the South Burnett community to promote and record local cultural activities. Joe has recorded a variety of events for not only Nanango but also the whole South Burnett region, including concerts at The Shed, local theatre groups, dance studios and shows, the Country Music Muster, Waterhole Rocks, The Mayor’s Christmas Luncheon, Soccer and Netball Club events and Anzac Day parades. Joe is currently working on a project for the 175 year celebration of Nanango. This is a partially funded project where he is recording the memories of Nanango residents past and present. Joe has travelled to Brisbane, Toowoomba and places in-between to speak to past residents at his own cost and in his own time.
  • Jon Fearnley revolutionised the Nanango Theatre Company when he was elected president in 2020, moving it from a small amateur company that performed a handful of plays each year to one that now regularly hosts not only plays, but stand-up comedy acts, singers and performing arts workshops. This has significantly expanded not only Nanango’s cultural offerings but the region’s as well. He conceived and developed the NananGO PLAYfest, an annual theatre contest that now attracts playwrights and actors from amateur theatre companies all over south-east Queensland to Nanango for a two-day competition. Jon also oversaw the development of plans to significantly expand the size of the Nanango Theatre Company’s playhouse when funding can be secured, and has sat on the South Burnett Arts Advisory Committee since its inception.

JOINT WINNERS: Craig Reiger and Sue Dowideit-Reiger; and Joe Skok

Mary Green, centre, accepted the Senior Cultural Award on behalf of joint winner Joe Skok
Senior Cultural Award nominees Ally Walker and husband and wife team, Sue  Dowideit-Reiger and Craig Reiger

* * *

Junior Sportsperson of the Year 

(Presented by Cr Kirstie Schumacher and Cr Scott Henschen; Acting Mayor Gavin Jones presented the Junior Sportsperson Bursary)

This award is presented to a nominee aged 17 years and under at January 22, 2024, who made a notable achievement in sporting endeavours. The Junior Sportsperson will also receive a $1000 bursary.

Taine Strong was presented with the South Burnett Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award plus a $1000 bursary

Nominees: Ada Kurz, Nanango; Jake Roberts, Crawford; Taine Strong, Kingaroy; Taila Webber, Cloyna; and Zara Douglass, Nanango

  • Ada Kurz is a Year 7 student at Nanango State High School and is an active member of many community and school sporting events. Ada’s achievements in 2023 included becoming age champion for athletics, cross country and swimming; represented South Burnett in cross country and athletics; and represented Wide Bay in athletics where she captained the team and was placed 5th overall. She has been a committed member of the school’s Vicki Wilson Netball Team, and she also represented Nanango and District Netball at the U13 Queensland Junior Netball State Age Championship in Townsville where she won best and fairest for her local team.
  • Jake Roberts has attended Crawford State School for all of his primary schooling. The staff and students have witnessed Jake grow into an inspiring, kind-hearted and generous young man. He is a champion when it comes to athletics and some of his achievements are: represented Crawford State School at the Small Schools Athletics Carnival (winning every event in his age group and broke a 26-year-old record for his 200m sprint and was named age champion), awarded age champion at the South Burnett Athletics Carnival; awarded Age Champion at the Wide Bay Athletics Carnival in Bundaberg; and competed at the State Athletics Carnival at QSAC Brisbane. Jake shows great sportsmanship both on and off the field and is a great role model for future sportspersons and is admired by his peers.
  • Taine Strong is a young man who is dedicated to sport and athletics and has a goal of competing at the 2032 Olympics. So far, a few of Taine’s achievements are: member of the Queensland Athletics Team; school Junior Sports Person of the Year for three consecutive years; South Burnett Age Champion in Cross Country 1500m and 800m; and represented South Burnett in the Wide Bay Basketball Team and awarded Players’ Player for his leadership. Taine represented the South Burnett at the Queensland Track and Field Championships and was awarded gold medallist for the 12-year-old boys’ cross country. He took part is State Championships at Townsville, Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Brisbane and Jimboomba. Taine inspires others and runs every week in the Wondai park run, challenging himself with improving his time and encouraging others along the way.
  • Taila Webber loves anything sporty and excels across many fields. She is Goomeri State School’s 14 years age champion (and broke three records), 14 years cross country age champion (breaking a record from 2002), and 14 years athletics age champion. Taila qualified for the 2023 Wide Bay Swimming Championships, the 2023 Queensland State Swimming Championships and was selected for the You For 2032 Queensland Academy of Sport talent identification program.
  • Zara Douglass is a Year 7 student at Nanango State High School. She is a dedicated, aspiring and hardworking young athlete who has excelled in sport last year. She is a committed member to the School’s Vicki Wilson Netball Team, attending numerous competitions; was selected in the Wide Bay Cross Country Team; represented Nanango and District Netball at the U13 Queensland Junior Netball State Age Championship in Townsville and is an active member of Nanango Little Athletics, receiving the Athletics Junior age champion and coach’s awards.

WINNER: Taine Strong

Cr Kirstie Schumacher and Cr Scott Henschen with Junior Sportsperson of the Year nominees Ada Kurz, Jake Roberts, Taine Strong and Zara Douglass

* * *

Senior Sportsperson of the Year

(Presented by Acting Mayor Gavin Jones)

This award is presented to a nominee aged 18 years and over at January 22, 2024, and recognises a person in the community who has achieved significant recognition in sport.

Amanda Dennien accepted the Senior Sportsperson of the Year Award from Acting Mayor Gavin Jones on behalf of her niece, Australian cricketer Courtney Sippel
Senior Sportsperson of the Year Courtney Sippel

Nominees: Courtney Sippel, Murgon; and Jericho Pogany, Nanango

  • Courtney Sippel started her career playing cricket in the South Burnett and surrounding regions. She is now playing as an elite cricketer and is an example of what you can attain if you are prepared to work hard in your chosen sport. Her most recent accomplishments include selection in the Under 19s Australian Squad which toured New Zealand; membership of the Australia A team in 2020 on home soil and again in 2023 when she was selected to tour England. Last year Courtney was also the winner of the Betty Wilson Young Player of the Year award a was a member of the Governor-General’s XI. Courtney is currently under contract with the Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire teams and has been described as someone who represents what you can achieve personally if you believe in yourself.
  • Jericho Pogany is a Year 12 graduate at Nanango State High School and has been an active member of many school sporting teams throughout his schooling life, participating in swimming, athletics and cross-country carnivals as well as the BP Shield interschool carnivals. Jericho has also been a member of the Human Powered Vehicle school team for the past two years, and won the Male Sportsperson and Sportsperson Of The Year awards at Nanango State High School’s awards night in 2023. As a house leader, Jericho often arrives early to assist in setting up for all carnivals and has represented the school’s Pedal Prix team, as well as taking part in the first Boys Vicki Wilson Netball team. Jericho also represented the South Burnett in cross country and athletics, and Wide Bay in triathlon, cross country and athletics. He has been a great leader and conducts himself exceptionally when representing the school.

WINNER: Courtney Sippel

* * *

Sportsperson of the Year (Coach/Official or Administrator) 

(Presented by Cr Scott Henschen)

This award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to sport and or the community as a coach, official or administrator.

Joshua Miller was presented with the Sportsperson of the Year (Coach / Official or Administrator) Award by Cr Scott Henschen

Nominee: Joshua Miller

  • Joshua Miller has been a driving force behind the resurgence of junior AFL in the South Burnett. His visionary leadership has helped reintroduce this sport to our community. Prior to his involvement, junior AFL had been absent from the region since 2015. As the Auskick co-ordinator, Joshua has been responsible for providing a welcoming and nurturing environment for AFL’s youngest athletes. He has worked tirelessly to introduce children to the fundamentals of AFL, fostering their love for the game and setting them on a path to sporting excellence.  Joshua has also taken on multiple roles within the South Burnett Saints club, including serving as an U14 coach, men’s assistant coach, and senior team manager. His coaching and managerial expertise have contributed significantly to the success of the teams and the overall development of players. Beyond his coaching and managerial duties, Joshua has also served as vice-president, club registrar and club groundskeeper, ensuring the smooth functioning of the club’s administrative and logistical aspects.

WINNER: Joshua Miller

* * *

Lifetime Achievement of the Year

(Presented by Cr Jane Erkens and Cr Kathy Duff)

This award is presented to a resident over 60 years of age in recognition of their outstanding achievement. Nominees display ongoing excellence in their field and in the community, demonstrating leadership and innovation while contributing towards the South Burnett region.

Cr Jane Erkens, left, and Cr Kathy Duff, right, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Richie O’Neill OAM

Nominees: Alan Weaver, Brian Lenihan, Daphene Connor, Margaret Kearney, Muriel Schultz, Nina Temperton, Norma Harch, Rob Patch, and Richie O’Neill

  • Alan Weaver has been a member of the South Burnett Senior Citizens Club since joining in 2011. During those years he has been vice-president, has also leaned to call bingo and indoor bowls. Alan is a willing and able volunteer in many areas of the club. Age has never stopped Alan from contributing to the club’s functions.
  • Brian Lenihan has lived, worked and contributed to Kumbia and its surrounding communities for more than 60 years. His generosity is second to none. He retired as “The Butcher” in June 2023 and during his 60+ years in this role was well known as the “tree of knowledge” by the locals, ie. if you wanted to know some local information, you’d go and see Brian in Bell Street. You would usually leave with the answer to your inquiry, a bag of yummy cheerios and a smile after hearing one of his jokes. Brian is well known for his remarkable generosity, his kindness, his leadership and huge heart and community spirit. Over many years he has supported community groups throughout the South Burnett without hesitation, including the Kumbia Race Club, Kumbia Hall, school, kindy, pony club, campdraft, golf, tennis and many more – the list is extensive.
  • Dr Daphene Connor has been a GP practicing in Blackbutt for the past 17 years. She has perseverance, dedication and a deep commitment to the medical profession and community service. Dr Connor’s journey began in China where she grew up and then attended the Medical University of Beijing at 16 years old. She then made the decision to move to Australia which started her substantial contributions to Australian rural healthcare.
  • Margaret Kearney was born and raised in Kingaroy. She is the eldest daughter of Jack and Myolene Carroll (JA Carroll & Sons Solicitors) Kingaroy and granddaughter of Dan and Bridget Carroll, one of the early settlers/founders of Kingaroy. Over her life, she has been actively involved in, and dedicated to, many local community club committees and events. These include Kumbia School, St Mary’s College, Kumbia Pony Club, Kumbia Golf Club, tennis, church, and for the past 15 years treasurer of the Kumbia Race Club. She retired from this role only a few months ago.
  • Muriel Schultz is a symbol of what it is to be a volunteer. Her service to the community stretched over some 60 years. Muriel continues to selflessly serve the community in which she lives. She has held the role as president of the Murgon Hospital Auxiliary for many years, with the support of her dedicated team of volunteers. Auxiliary projects include renovations to provide a room dedicated for palliative care; renovations for visiting specialists; the purchase of a specialised transfer trolley from the hospital’s emergency room to the LifeFlight helicopters; and the purchase of two specialist heart monitors. Muriel has also been part of several not-for-profit organisations, all with the same goal of helping others in the community. Her reward for sacrificing her time is seeing the difference made to the lives and wellbeing of those who have benefited.
  • In 1992, Nina Temperton applied to become manager of a small youth unemployment centre in Kingaroy. Over the years, it morphed into a Community Youth Support Service, South Burnett Skillshare then eventually South Burnett CTC. In 2023, CTC had more than 240 staff members based across the South Burnett with an outreach that extended into almost every town and village in the region. Nina’s passion to support the disabled and disadvantaged has been the driving force behind the rapid growth of CTC. Her vision has always been for CTC to fill any gaps identified in local community services. SBCTC is a not-for-profit Public Benevolent Institution registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. It provides support services through multiple programs to a diverse range of people within the community covering programs supporting homeless and at-risk youth, victims of domestic violence, disability services, Youth and Family Services, foster care and housing. As CEO, Nina has been a passionate role model and leader of the CTC management team. Without Nina and SBCTC, the local, State and Federal governments would not be able to service the needs of the disadvantaged and/or marginalised members of the South Burnett community. Nina retired after 31 years of service on September 14, 2023. At her final AGM on September 18, she was appointed Patron of CTC. She will leave an ongoing, outstanding legacy for the South Burnett community through her work. Nina’s dream project of building a group living home for residents living with disabilities was completed with the official opening of “Skyla House” on October 18. The complex was built in Nanango thanks to the support of Heritage Nanango Community Fund.
  • Norma Harch is Patron of the the Nanango and District Netball Association, a community based netball club available to residents of all ages in the South Burnett and wider communities. Norma Harch had demonstrated commitment to the development and growth of netball in the area. She was president from 1993 to 2008 and became its first life member in 1997. Norma has made an outstanding contribution to netball for almost 40 years nurturing players. She is meticulous with details. Norma spent many hours ensuring the clubhouse was ready for the 40th celebrations in October 2023. She acknowledged all players who had been chosen for Wide Bay or State selection since 1995. Her display of newspaper cuttings, photo albums and memorabilia were much appreciated by the attendees. On the morning of the celebrations, a special honour was bestowed on Norma, with the courts being renamed as the Norma Harch Netball Courts. She recalled that the current site of the courts was originally a car parking area for a camp for those working at the Tarong Power Station and Meandu Mine. The new clubhouse arrived in 1998. When the clubhouse burnt down in 2001, Norma worked tirelessly as president, overseeing the restoration of the clubhouse which is now a very impressive complex. Norma regularly attends meetings of the Queensland State body in Brisbane as a NDNA representative.
  • Rob Patch is a local legend in Kingaroy … almost as iconic as The Peanut Van. Time spent with Rob is time well-invested because you will always learn something that you didn’t know about Kingaroy’s peanut industry. Rob is being nominated for this award because people are inspired by his love of all things Kingaroy and the culture he has built within his hardworking team in the The Peanut Van and Factory. If you ask Rob, what he is most proud of, it’s the people who work with him because they love what they do just as much as he does. He has a passion for supporting the next generation and is a role model for young entrepreneurs. He is always willing to share his time, knowledge and stories and is passionate about providing a workforce where everyone feels valued and invested in the story of Kingaroy peanuts. He should be acknowledged for the many years of service and hard work he has invested in Kingaroy, its people and its place. He is a quiet achiever always working on something innovative.
  • Richie O’Neill has had a lifetime of community involvement. He served as a councillor on Murgon Shire Council for 10 years and during that time was an instigator, through his advocacy, of rural addressing throughout Queensland. He served on the Local Ambulance Committee for 52 years, most of the time as President, and received a 50-year service award. Richie served as president of the Commemorative Committee in Murgon for 24 years and only last year retired from that position. During that time Murgon has hosted many very special and momentous commemorative services. including major Anzac Day services which close the main street of Murgon every year. He was president of the Murgon Show Society for 18 years and a Show Society Sub-Chamber representative for the South Burnett for 37 years. During that time, he was State President of the Queensland Show Movement for five years. In 1999, Richie was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Richie has been the president of the Creative Country Association since its inception. In 2023, he participated in the opening of 55 Million Years Ago which is proving to be a great tourist attraction for Murgon. During all this time, Richie has also run a farming operation, raised a family and continues to live and care for his wife Edna on the family farm.

WINNER: Richie O’Neill OAM

Lifetime Achievement Award nominees … Alan Weaver, Brian Lenihan, Margaret Kearney, Muriel Schults, Nina Temperton, Norma Harch, Rob Patch and Richie O’Neill

* * *

Local Achiever Awards

(Presented by Cr Danita Potter and Cr Jane Erkens)

These awards are presented to residents in recognition of their outstanding achievement / contribution. Nominees display ongoing excellence in their community.

Cr Danita Potter presented the Hivesville / Proston Local Achiever Award to Brenda Johanson


Nominees: Brenda Johanson, Irene McDonald and Kathy Crane

  • Brenda Johanson received two nominations.  She has lived in Proston since 1964 and has volunteered her time and talents with a range of community organisations during this entire time – from sewing for ambulance stalls to teaching craft, to helping to form a playgroup, and volunteering at the school. She has worked tirelessly for the Proston Show Society as a steward for more than 30 years and is now chief steward in the Pavilion. Brenda is also a member of the Proston Angels Relay For Life team and regularly helps out with fundraising events such as catering, chip stalls and helping to man the gate at the Kingaroy Show. Brenda has a keen interest in Proston’s history and has been an active member of the Proston & District Heritage Association since its formation in 2018. She was part of the organising committee for the very successful Proston Centenary celebrations in 2023. Brenda is a quiet achiever who always does her best, works cheerfully with others, and is a wonderful and valued member of our community.
  • Irene McDonald is a well-known Proston local. At 84-years-old, she has just recently retired from driving the local school bus which she has done for 30 plus years. Irene volunteers with many community groups and organisations, runs the local line dancing group, caretakes the Proston Showgrounds and is kitchen convenor for the Proston Show Society. She is also a part of Proston Lions Club and Proston Garden Club. She maintains the local Lions Park and raises money for the groups she’s involved in as well as organisations which help the community as a whole. Irene is very dedicated to everything she does and every group and organisation of which she is a part.
  • Kathy Crane has contributed immensely to the community of Proston in many ways over many years. She has been involved with – and is often the driving force behind – such projects as the Reinke Scrub restoration, the Labyrinth, monthly Mental Health Days for anyone to come and have a cuppa and a chat, the Heritage Association and Proston Centenary. Kathy has been a rock upon whom so many people have been able to lean when troubles have come. She is always there for everyone.

WINNER: Brenda Johanson

Hivesville / Proston Local Achiever nominees Brenda Johanson, Irene McDonald and Kathy Crane

* * *

Cr Jane Erkens, right, with Murgon Local Achiever Award winner Amanda Dennien and nominee Lanse Rea


Nominees: Amanda Dennien and Lanse Rea 

  • Amanda Dennien has always been dedicated to the progress of Murgon and the South Burnett. She has raised her four children here along with being a part of the lives of 600 children that she has taught and supported throughout her 22 years of working at the local kindy. Amanda has always supported local businesses through community events, ladies luncheons and her volunteer work at local dance schools in Murgon. She was also involved with 100 years centenary for Windera. Her involvement in the kindy has drastically shaped the community with families knowing a safe place they can go. She has become a figurehead in Murgon for early childhood and early development. She has aided families from multiple different backgrounds, including families who have experienced hardship, or children with disabilities, to ensure they have access to early education. Families have felt that they can turn to her to support and advice. Children who have now grown up look to her and still talk about their time at kindy with “Mrs D”.  Even though 2023 was her last year of teaching at the Kindy, she will continue providing for the community in a different way. Amanda has recently become a certified celebrant and is so grateful to see the children that she once taught, now grown up and getting married. Amanda has devoted her adult life to supporting the community that she calls home.
  • Lanse Rea is the epitome of a local achiever in Murgon. He has owned and run a successful family business in Murgon for more than 23 years. Recently semi-retired, Lanse has not slowed down even a little. In fact, he is busier than ever! Lanse has been a member of the Murgon Business Development Association for more than 25 years. He is always one of the first people to put up his hand to volunteer at events. In 2023, Lanse was a volunteer committee member for the Murgon Bush Christmas on December 8. He worked tirelessly to make this event memorable for everyone attending. While Lanse managed his own business, he also volunteered as a board member of the YMCA (now PCYC) and the Murgon RSL. He also volunteered with the Murgon Show Society and the Murgon Dairy Museum. Lanse has also spent hours working as a volunteer yard and maintenance man at the club blocks for Rotary and Apex. He also volunteered at Castra Aged Care and raised funds to acquire the Castra residents’ bus. He is also a foundation member of the Goomeri Chrome Bumpers car club and has raised funds for LifeFlight and Ronald McDonald House.

WINNER: Amanda Dennien

* * *

Cr Danita Potter, right, presented the Kingaroy Local Achiever Award to Craig Reiger and Sue Dowideit-Reiger


Nominees: Craig Reiger & Sue Dowideit-Reiger, Jacqui Trace and Rob Patch

  • Craig Reiger & Sue Dowideit-Reigersee nomination entry in the “Senior Cultural Award” section
  • Jacqui Trace is vice-president of the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Industry and has led projects and initiatives for the SMILE campaign, focusing on mental health. She is passionate about small business and the growth and prosperity of the region. She has been working quietly behind the scenes to influence better outcomes in the region and within the Chamber. Jacqui is a volunteer with the South Burnett Junior Motorcycle Club. And with her business, she has donated countless dollars, time and service to community events and activities including the Ride 4 Relay. She is a hardworking and dedicated member of the community and deserves recognition.
  • Rob Patchsee nomination entry in the “Lifetime Achievement Award” section

WINNERS: Craig Reiger & Sue Dowideit-Reiger

Kingaroy Local Achiever nominees Craig Reiger, Sue Dowideit-Reiger, Jacqui Trace and Rob Patch

* * *

Cr Jane Erkens presented the Wooroolin / Memerambi Local Achiever Award to Chris Marks


Nominee: Chris Marks

  • Chris Marks  has been secretary of the Wooroolin Lions Club and has been a valuable member and worker for years. He also volunteers at the Kingaroy Pantry and Red Cross in Kingaroy on a weekly roster. Since moving to the Wooroolin area, Chris has been involved in lots of organisations and events such as scouts, Anzac Day and helping the Lions with many fundraisers and working bees.

WINNER: Chris Marks

* * *

Kumbia Local Achiever nominee Myolene Voller with Cr Danita Potter


Nominees: Gordon Coward and Myolene Voller

  • Gordon Coward is the well-known and popular proprietor of GRC Plantation Services. Gordon has constructed fencing, yards and gates for iconic Kumbia landmarks such as the Kumbia Race Club and the Kumbia Memorial Hall, but also contributes to his community in many other ways. He was the force behind the ongoing maintenance of the Kumbia Sportsgrounds when its future was uncertain. He mows and sprays Council land areas when required and has also tidied up the old BMX track. Thanks in a large part to his efforts, Kumbia always looks attractive, neat and tidy. Gordon mows, sprays and tidies up residents’ grounds, often without full recompense, He has also donated his time and supplied items to many local events, including the 2022 Kumbia Country Festival. He is always ready to lend a hand wherever it is needed locally. The latest initiative he has volunteered for is the management committee of the newly formed Kumbia Sport and Recreation Association.
  • Myolene Voller is a community champion for Kumbia. She went to school in Kumbia and has been involved in the Kumbia Pony Club and the races for many years with a close family connection to the Lenihan family and racing in general. She is the current Kumbia Race Club secretary. Kumbia is the only race meeting held in the South Burnett on Melbourne Cup Day and over the years it has become a signature event in the South Burnett. Myolene has been involved with organising the event for the past five years and took on the role of secretary four years ago. The club now hosts caravanners which has helped with the shortage of volunteers. The caravanners love to chip in and help so not only are they providing a community service but they are also helping to boost the economy of the area through the dollars they spend during their stay. Myolene not only organises the Fashions on the Field, she also comperes it, along with being the go-to person for lots of other happenings throughout the course of the day. Her role is more than just the secretary, she is the event organiser. This year the club had 200 more visitors than the previous year, so the overall event was hailed as a major success.

WINNER: Gordon Coward

* * *


Cr Jane Erkens, right, presented the Blackbutt / Benarkin Local Achiever Award to Dinah Jones


Nominees: Dinah Jones and Daphene Connor

  • Dinah Jones gets things done. She has been president of the Blackbutt & District Tourism and Heritage Association for the past 18 months and has been at the forefront of the revamp of the building at Jesse’s Well (often doing much of the restoration work herself). Two signal poles are being installed, the Roy Emerson Way has been named and the association is in the process of buying an old forestry building which will be converted into a timber museum. Dinah works tirelessly for the association, spending many hours each week with much going unnoticed. She is also involved in the local garden club and maintains her five acres of garden singlehandedly. She regularly wins awards in the annual garden competition. Dinah has an extensive knowledge of the history of the Blackbutt and Benarkin areas, particularly the timber industry. Despite a demanding home life she has spent many hours supporting a terminally ill friend, organising services, transport etc., and when services weren’t available, she took on the role herself with mowing, transport to medical appointments and home help. Much of what Dinah does goes unnoticed because she does not like the limelight, but she deserves some recognition for the many hours and practical work she gives to her community.
  • Dr Daphene Connor see nomination entry in the “Lifetime Achievement of the Year ” section

WINNER: Dinah Jones

* * *

Arthur Wallis accepted the Nanango Local Achiever Award from Cr Jane Erkens and Cr Danita Potter on behalf of his wife Sue


Nominee: Sue Wallis

  • Irene Suzanne (Sue) Wallis has spent many years providing assistance to groups in Nanango. In 2023, when the Nanango Tourism & Development Association (NaTDA) took on the challenge of organising the celebration for the town’s 175th year, Sue was the logical event organiser. She was Queen of the Nanango Mardi Gras in 2012 and Funfest co-ordinator to 2017 when health reasons intervened and she left the position. Sue has given her time willingly to assist with community events whenever possible. She was one of the first volunteers when the South Burnett Energy and Information Centre opened. In 2022, the South Burnett Regional Council called for expressions of interest for the Ringsfield Advisory Committee. Sue had previously been at Ringsfield as volunteer organiser so it followed she would be offered the position of volunteer manager. The group has been meeting regularly and are working toward the reopening of this wonderful complex. In 2023, Sue worked on the 175th celebrations’ three major events: NaTDA presented the annual Australia Day celebrations at the Nanango Showgrounds; in June there was the Pioneer Festival at Nanango Showgrounds and the visit by the State Governor; and in December the Heritage Christmas Carnival.  Again this was a mammoth task and a group effort with Sue as the Event planner. The idea was to provide the community with a “family affordable” festive celebration event during the school holidays, finishing with a fireworks display which completed Nanango’s Celebration year.

WINNER: Sue Wallis

* * *

Winston Burrows was presented with the Wondai / Tingoora Local Achiever Award by Cr Jane Erkens


Nominees: Chantal Harth, Julie Lohmann, Kathy Unverzagt Steinhardt and Winston Burrows

  • Chantal Harth is the general manager of CROW-FM 90.7 and manages the staff, facilities and ensures delivery of a 24/7 radio service from Wondai across the whole South Burnett. Chantal started with CROW more than 12 years ago in administration. A dedicated worker, she was keen to learn and has built the skills to be the bookkeeper. In late 2020, she was appointed general manager. Chantal has grown and thrived at the helm of the radio station. This year, she has overseen the challenging introduction of a state-of-the-art new playout system. Chantal loves country music and particularly enjoys presenting the Midweek Muster and Country Hour on CROW and is known as “the Queen of Country”. One of her passions is sharing the stories and incredible songs of Australia’s talented country music singers and songwriters. Chantal goes above and beyond for CROW and gives much of her time for the station but also supports a number of charitable events in her own time, in particular Relay For Life. Chantal has provided an outstanding contribution to Wondai and the wider South Burnett region.
  • Julie Lohmann –  see nomination entry in the “Volunteer of the Year” section
  • Kathy Unverzagt Steinhardt has been instrumental in the re-establishment of the Tingoora Vikings Cricket Club and in helping the team with fundraising and getting the grounds game day ready. She is passionate about helping the sports club achieve its vision and has worked tirelessly with others, quietly in the background. She deserves recognition for her efforts.
  • Winston Burrows has been president of The Laurels in Wondai for a number of years and has just finished the last duplex. This complex has been a unique piece of the Wondai community ever it was first thought about. Winston is a volunteer who oversees the whole complex. As each unit houses one or two older residents, things can go wrong any time of the day or night. Winston is only a phone call away and is always available to fix the problem. This gives the residents a wonderful sense of security. He is also a member and emcee of the Wondai Town Band which is always available to play at functions such as Anzac Day, the Christmas Carnival and Carols in the Park. Winston is also a voluntary Board member of CROW FM and an officiating volunteer at the weekly Wondai parkrun.

WINNER: Winston Burrows

Wondai / Tingoora Local Achiever nominees Chantal Harth, Julie Lohmann, Kathy Unverzagt Steinhardt and Winston Burrows

* * *

Photo Gallery

Guest speaker and Australia Day Ambassador Elijah Buol OAM with Acting Mayor Gavin Jones
Cadets from the 135 ACU at Wondai conducted a flag ceremony at the start of the event
The Australian Flag is brought down the aisle in Kumbia Hall to the stage
The Aboriginal flag is carried to the stage during the opening ceremony
Compere for the day Rod Morgan was presented with a thank you gift by Acting Mayor Gavin Jones
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington was also thanked for her participation on the day
Local resident Percy Curtain sang the National Anthem
Kumbia Hall was packed for the awards ceremony despite the uncomfortably hot weather

Ros Heit for South Burnett Division 6
Vote 1 Kathy Duff for South Burnett Mayor


Vote 1 Jane Erkens for Division 1
Vote 1 Scott Hernschen for Division 6

3 Responses to "Alan’s Our Citizen Of The Year!"

  1. Thanks for an excellent coverage of this event. (And CEO Mark Pitt, I just love your bow tie.)

  2. Thank you for the hard work you put in to report on the local Australia Day Awards. It is much appreciated.

  3. Congratulations to all the nominees, absolute fantastic coverage with photos. Many thanks from Leo Geraghty OAM

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