Celebrations in the bush

BIG DAY: Robert Joyce, left, Jack Keain and Rosanne Crouch led the way as residents of the Wandearah farm district celebrated Australia Day on Sunday. The heritage society and church conducted a joint program.
BIG DAY: Robert Joyce, left, Jack Keain and Rosanne Crouch led the way as residents of the Wandearah farm district celebrated Australia Day on Sunday. The heritage society and church conducted a joint program.

Australia Day at Wandearah was celebrated with a combined gathering of members of the Broughton Plains Heritage Society and the Wandearah Uniting Church.

The event started with a service led by Elaine Clifford who spoke of the toils of the area's pioneers.

Gretel D'agostino led the readings and guest speaker Anthony North gave an emotion-charged speech on depression and suicide prevention.

After the service, the crowd enjoyed a barbecue brunch and dessert .

Heritage society chairman Jack Keain spoke to the crowd and Mrs Clifford cut the Australia Day cake and recited a poem. Wandearah Uniting Church secretary Rosanne Crouch shared some history of the church and plans for its 125th celebrations to be held on March 29.

Church chairman Robert Joyce and Cr Keain both raised the Australian flag as the finale to the event.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, two new life members of the Port Pirie Australia Day Committee stepped forward. Lance Leak and Barry Warner were presented with plaques at the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club.

The event, also attended by Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens and Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock, was to welcome Australia Day Ambassador Vicky Welgraven, an Adnyamathanha woman originally from Port Augusta but who now lives in Adelaide.

It was also to recognise local recipients of the Order of Australia Medal. Mr Leak OAM has been on the committee for 33 years and gratefully accepted his life membership. "We probably gossip more at our meetings than anything else, but we do get things done," he said.

"Port Pirie enjoys probably one of the best Australia Day celebrations in South Australia." He thanked the Port Pirie Regional Council for its sponsorship.

Mr Warner, who represents the Y's Men's Club on the group, said there were only two committees in South Australia which ran celebrations with the rest being handled by councils.

Mr Leak introduced the OAMs - Sam Smith, Maureen Jones, Greg Mayfield, Joel Head, Laurence Stanley, Gary Polkinghorne, John Coxon and Haydn Madigan.

"Deputy Mayor Cr Alan Zubrinich is here tonight and he is the son-in-law of the late hairdresser Mick Mavromatis OAM," he said.

"I am sure Mick is looking down upon us and wishing us the best."

It was a special night for the committee because Ambassador Ms Welgraven is the first Aboriginal person to be awarded that title in South Australia.

"I grew up in Port Augusta so that is where my heart will always be," she told the gathering. "I attended Caritas College and before that Port Augusta Primary School."

"I entered the public service in Port Augusta in 1994 and later worked with Cr Zubrinich."

She works for SA Health and is on the Premier's Council for Women as well as being a champion of women's rights, campaigner against domestic violence and voice for her people.

She said that, sadly, Aboriginal women were 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than other women as a result of domestic violence.

"This is where I want to put my passion," she said.