Rainbow was the first town in the Hindmarsh Shire to celebrate Australia Day. The Lions Club members, looking great in their new uniforms, cooked a real Aussie breakfast for the eighty people who attended the early morning event while the persistent flies made it a very Australian celebration.
The Rainbow Lions Club President, Murray Robinson, began the proceedings by welcoming everyone and then introduced the Hindmarsh Shire Mayor Ron Ismay; other Shire representatives were Deputy Mayor Ron Lowe and Phil King. Mayor Ismay said it was an honour to be involved in Australia Day as the Mayor of the Shire. He then introduced Hindmarsh Shire’s Australia Day ambassador Maree Caldow.
Maree, who is from Melton, has prepared over 400 horse racing winners in Australia and New Zealand who have earned over $2.5 million in prize money. She is well known in Victorian harness racing circles. Through her husband John she has a connection to Rainbow, as John is a regular driver of the locally owned “Road to Rainbow”.
Maree began her address by stating that she was one of 145 Australia Day ambassadors. She saw this as a great honour; this was reflected in her very positive speech.
Maree thanked the Shire for inviting her as she is a country girl at her heart, having grown up in Maryborough while her husband John is an Ouyen boy. She said that country people are very welcoming and friendly; they stand together in the hard times and celebrate together in the good times. They are also heavily involved in volunteering with many Rainbow people involved in community organisations such as the Lions Club, CFA and the Jeparit Rainbow Football Netball Club. Australia Day was a chance for people to reaffirm their commitment to their communities.
For Maree, Australians are known for their humour, modesty, loyalty and hard work.
“On Australia Day we should reflect on what we do well and what we can do better, both in our lives and in our communities,”Maree said.
Before the Lions Club Citizen of the Year was announced, those present joined together to wish 96 year old Frank Orriss happy birthday.
Greg Roberts was then named Citizen of the Year. Greg is involved in many aspects of life in Rainbow. A long time member of the Lions Club, he was involved with firstly the Rainbow Football Club, then at Jeparit Rainbow where he was a trainer for many years.
Greg was involved in last year’s Desert Enduro and El Disaster events which attracted many visitors to the town. He is a long time member of the local CFA and an organiser of the vintage car rally at the Rainbow Show. For many years he was a school bus driver.
Greg, in accepting his award, said that he was just one of many volunteers in Rainbow. He sees a bright future for the town. He then joined Frank and Maree in the flag raising ceremony.
Next it was Jeparit’s turn to celebrate Australia Day. About sixty people attended the breakfast put on by the Jeparit Town Committee. By now the morning was warmer and there were fewer flies.
Jeparit Town Committee President Jason Hutson welcomed everyone before Emily Schultz and Bella Spokes raised the Australian Flag. This was followed by speeches from Mayor Ron Ismay and Maree Caldow. Then Jason announced that Sharon Reilly was Jeparit’s Citizen of the Year.
Sharon was born and grew up in Jeparit before raising three children in the town. She has worked at the local bank, supermarket, Hopetoun House Hotel and Pfeiffers Rural Supplies.
As Secretary of the Jeparit Pioneer Museum she plays a big role in the annual vintage rally. Sharon has also worked in the Dimboola College canteen, as well as helping out in many other activities around Jeparit, including being a valued member of the Jeparit Town Committee. Sharon said that the award was a big surprise to her as there are many people at Jeparit who make a selfless contribution to the community.