Murray River Council Australia Day awards: Six chances to celebrate

Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley (far right) with Moulamein Community Development Inc members (from left) Graeme and Di Naulder, Richard Redfearn, Diedre Howard, Lexie Jackson, Jane Taylor and Drew Harris at the official opening of the village in December. Photo by Supplied

Murray River Council has acknowledged the achievements of individuals and groups who worked so tirelessly to make our community a better place during a difficult 12 months.

Announcing its Australia Day Awards winners on Monday, the top awards went to Caldwell’s Kevin Barnes as Citizen of the Year, and Mathoura’s Dottie Wilson as Young Citizen of the Year.

Young Sportsperson of the Year is Ryan Domaille of Tooleybuc and Sportsperson of the Year is Heath Moloney of Moulamein.

Community Event of the Year went Echuca Moama Apex Club for its role in the 2021 Sunday Session, Community Group of the Year is Moulamein Community Development Inc and the Arts and Culture Award goes to The ACRE Project.

The 2022 recipients will be presented with their award at local Australia Day breakfasts.

ABC broadcaster and Neighbour Day founder Andrew Heslop is the Australia Day ambassador, and will be attending the Moulamein ceremony.

● Moama– Kerrabee Soundshell, 8am breakfast and presentations.

● Mathoura – Soldier’s Memorial Park, 8am breakfast and presentations.

● Barham – Riverside Park, 7am breakfast, 8am ceremony.

● Moulamein – The Triangle, 8am breakfast, presentations and flag raising.

● Wakool – Wakool Hall, 10am breakfast and ceremony.

● Tooleybuc – Mensforth Park, 7.30am breakfast and ceremony.

Sportsperson of the Year: Heath Moloney

Heath Moloney, of Moulamein, has been recognised as sportsperson of the year for his outstanding leadership and coaching skills in the local Moulamein community.

Heath continued to be a fantastic mentor and coach to local junior footy players, particularly during lockdown periods.

Throughout lockdowns and home learning he went above and beyond, ensuring local youth remained fit and motivated.

He even encouraged a group of young people to get up at 5am each morning and either head to the gym, run laps of the local oval or just to do some kind of fitness!

Once school resumed, Heath made sure the group kept doing this morning routine, even going so far as to open the local club rooms so that the participants could get ready for school after their morning fitness sessions.

Heath was also vigilant in keeping a check on the mental health of his team during lockdowns too, often dropping in on families to check in and have a quick chat.

Community Group of the Year: Moulamein Community Development Inc

Moulamein Community Development Inc has been recognised for delivering on its vision to showcase the history of Moulamein across the local region and beyond.

The group was formed by a diverse, energetic and dedicated group of locals in 2017.

The main aim was to create the Moulamein Heritage Village — a museum interpreting the district’s rich Indigenous, pastoral, agricultural, and social history.

More recently, we saw this exciting project come to life.

Located in Paterson St, the Moulamein Heritage Village is now a new tourist attraction that will conserve and showcase a number of objects and buildings that have historical significance in the local area.

The ‘jewel in the crown’ of the village, the Jeraly woolshed, has been relocated to the site along with the old school. A new amenities block has also been constructed as part of the facility.

This now all stands as an inviting new tourist attraction that will conserve and showcase the history of the region.

The village also stands as a centre that can help build resilience in the local economy, through tourism numbers and local use.

It will give people in the Moulamein Community an opportunity for casual and voluntary work in the visitor centre and also offer an opportunity to work in a community enterprise using their skills and experience.

The heritage village can be used by other businesses and enterprises too, including wedding functions, agricultural forums, professional photo shoots, historic group visits, machinery displays, music concerts, audio visual artists and bush tucker businesses. The list is extensive!

This project is possibly the largest undertaken by the Moulamein community since the construction of the man-made lake in the 1960s.

And they are not finished yet! In the coming year the group will also reconstruct Werai Horse stables on the site, and the Moolpa blacksmith shop.

Community Event of the Year: Echuca Moama Apex Club’s Sunday Session Event 2021

The inaugural Sunday Session event was held at the Moama Soundshell in April 2021, and offered a free afternoon of laid-back music and easy-going entertainment.

Echuca Moama Apex Club are recognised for their outstanding efforts in running the event on behalf of Murray River Council and the local community.

Live and local, the event featured several artists including Jaymi Clancy, Thrive Support Services, Simon Marks, Georgina Bish, Walking South and Benny Walker.

There were also activities for children and a number of food and drink vendors.

Of significant importance was the platform to support local talent. The entertainment industry has really suffered under COVID restrictions and the Sunday Session provided a great opportunity to help kick-start some music events again.

The event also provided an opportunity for locals to gather, enjoying the beautiful surrounds and celebrate all that’s great in our local area.

Young Sportsperson of the Year: Ryan Domaille

Tooleybuc’s Ryan Domaille has certainly accomplished outstanding success on the footy field, and at just 17 years of age has accumulated an impressive list of sporting achievements.

He started playing football in 2011 in the under 11s for the Tooleybuc-Manangatang Football Netball Club and has been in love with the game ever since, and continued to play for the Saints for the next 10 years.

During his time at the club he has received many accolades including under 14s club Best and Fairest, Most Consistent Player and the under 14s Runner Up Best and Fairest in the league awards.

In round nine of 2019 Ryan made his senior footy debut at age 15, and finished the year with six senior games and two goals.

Ryan also won the Colts’ goal kicking in 2021 and was the leading goal kicker in both his Colts and senior teams.

This also lead to him receiving the Central Murray Football League’s Colts Most Valuable Player Award.

As a senior football player he has shown his versatility by playing several key positions, demonstrating forward thinking and composure beyond his years.

Ryan is always a willing helper around the club, umpiring under 12s, running water, manning the scoreboard or anything else he is asked to do.

He has also shared his passion for football by becoming an Auskick coach where he was able to support the youngest members of the club to develop skills.

Ryan has also been selected to represent his club on many occasions. His first opportunity to play representative football was in 2016 when he was selected as a bottom age player in the CMFNL Junior Development Academy under 13 squad.

Ryan continued with the Richmond Tigers Academy in the under 13s again in 2017, under 14s in 2018 and under 15s in 2019.

Following the 2019 season Ryan was selected to play V/Line Cup for the Bendigo Pioneers where he kicked five goals in the two games he played. Ryan also completed the 2020 preseason with the under 16s Bendigo Pioneers Squad.

Most recently, Ryan has been selected as part of the Bendigo Pioneers NAB League under 19s squad, and they will begin training soon. Ryan was also a CMFNL boundary umpire from 2017-2019 which equipped him with great respect for the umpires.

Ryan has attended 13 years of schooling at Tooleybuc Central School and during this time he has demonstrated his athleticism and love of a range of sports. Ryan has received many Age Champions Awards in Athletics and always represented the school with pride in AFL, Basketball, Cricket and Athletics.

Arts/Cultural Award: The ACRE Project

Since 2009, South West Arts’ The ACRE Project has run on-farm artist residencies, seminars, workshops and exhibitions that look at how art and agriculture intercept with history, community resilience and planning.

The ACRE Project — which stands for Australia’s Creative Rural Economy — believes the immersion of art into rural communities can help foster an understanding of country, place, and those that live there.

TWIGs — nights of food and conversation around a fire with local neighbours, families and friends — have become the signature event for The ACRE Project, where farmers generously host an artist on their farm so they can create works that respond to and resonate with the farm and local area.

For ACRE 2021, the TWIG concept was expanded to include school residencies as well as those on-farm. Three such events were held in Murray River Council — in Moulamein, Caldwell and at Wakool Burraboi School.

Moulamein had a 100-strong crowd from the local area and was held at Nyang Woolshed, thanks to property owner and long-time The ACRE Project supporter Peter Redfearn.

Artist Josephine Duffy, who grew up in the area, created a stunning accordion-style big book TWIG sculpture to welcome guests.

The Wakool Burraboi Public School TWIG residency saw them develop a play, ‘Heading to Yallapenya’. This play was written by Angela Frost, Robert Charles (Uncle Ducky) and Wakool Burraboi Public School students in partnership with Outback Theatre for Young People.

Angela and Uncle Ducky worked with the school’s 12 students during term two, learning about their lives in and around Wakool. For many it was their first time involved with performing arts and their first time on stage.

And finally, cellist and composer Kristin Rule lived on-farm at Caldwell with hosts Wendy and Peter McDonald.

During her stay she created new music and visuals focused on the impact of drought.

Kristin also recorded conversations with Wendy and Peter about landscape and farming, and imposed those over the work, giving it a genuine connection to place.