Every nominee for the Australia Day awards should be proud, it was not only recognition of their recent achievements, but for many, a lifetime of contributions to others and this city. Our very own chairperson, Ali Tanner, was nominated for many hours volunteering for Sacred Heart Primary School, Mater Dei Catholic College, Wagga Wagga Music Eisteddfod, Department of Primary Industries on the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel, Wagga Wagga Sister City Committee, and the Miss Wagga Wagga Quest Committee. Anyone who has been lucky enough to have met Ali would know that she is a woman of strong values and a passion for ensuring everyone has equal opportunity to achieve success in their life.
The night saw us lucky enough to celebrate all the selfless contributions that so many in our community make, an address by Mr Bob Turner, our Australia Day ambassador for 2023, and a performance by the fabulous Australian Army Band Kapooka. Kate Pevere, Miss Wagga Wagga 2023, also had the opportunity to present an address about what being an Australian and living in Australia means to her. A passionate speech about the resilience of the communities within and their strength to come together and blossom through hardship. Together, we are all a part of something special here in Australia, a place of inclusion and diversity, opportunity and freedoms, as we continue to strive to make Australia a better home for all, one day at a time.
Australia Day kicked off from 7am at the Victory Memorial Gardens, as we enjoyed a large range of activities along with the community, from sandcastle sculptures to biscuit decorating, and a range of breakfast choices. From the original Australian sausage in a sandwich to Tibetan Momo’s (my personal favourite!), a beef dumpling with chilli and soy sauce, and Afghani Pakoura, a delicious potato and vegetable fritter. A beautiful Citizenship ceremony followed where 75 new Australian Citizens made their pledges and were awarded their certificates.
For Haylee Burkinshaw, Community Princess 2023, January has been a month of reflection and growth. At the beginning of the month she was fortunate to have been sponsored by TWO of our local rotary clubs; South Wagga Rotary and Kooringal Rotary to attend a week up in Murrumbateman for RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards). This program was run by none other than treasurer for the Miss Wagga Wagga Quest, Clare Lawlor. RYLA gave me the chance to not only see leadership and management in a new light, but also made me reflect on what sort of leader I aspire to be. The RYLA program has made a place in my heart that I never expected and I am so grateful.
The week after Australia Day, I had a call from my cousin, Leigh Burkinshaw, asking me if I could take a drive out to Collingullie to have a look at what he and Carmel had organized - The Collingullie Fishing Comp.
When I arrived, I found that there were nearly 300 people participating, local transport companies supplying their trucks as stages with the incredible Open Range getting everyone up for a dance, Oh Bor Adventure and Bait Bomb supplying fishing shirts, hats and baits for everyone’s safety in the sun, and also, the Black Dog Ride. The Black Dog Ride spreads awareness for depression and suicide prevention. Unfortunately, depression and suicide has effected all of us but on this day they rode for one of our own from The Rock. To see them ride and everyone come together to support this family truly shows what our city is all about.
January has been a month of reflection, growth and appreciation. We look forward to continuing this through to February, and inspiring the new year of Miss Wagga Wagga Quest Entrants at our information evening on the 15th February at the RSL Club.
We hope to see you there.