Australia Day celebrations were held at the Burdekin Memorial Hall on Thursday 25th January 2018 where residents were recognised for the their community spirit. The Burdekin Shire Council Australia Day Awards recognise members of our community who have made an outstanding contribution to the community, and for exceptional achievement in many areas.

Citizen of the Year

Nominees – John Furnell, Alfred Shand

Winner – Alfred Shand

The 2018 Citizen of the Year Award is presented to someone who has worked tirelessly for many local groups over the past 50 years. He is well known for his work with the Burdekin Machinery Preservationists, Burdekin Trailer Yacht Club, and the Home Hill Boat Club. In fact, he is the current treasurer for all three groups.

The Recipient was one of the founding members of the Burdekin Machinery Preservationist back in the early 1980’s through his efforts as treasurer over the past 33 years, the organisation has received several grants which have enabled them to construct buildings and fund projects, including the installation of the Cox family’s 1930s (nineteen thirties) Engineering works at the Brandon Heritage Centre.

Notably, the recipient secured a grant which allowed the Burdekin Machinery Preservationists to complete the restoration of the ‘Burdekin Tractor’- a 1911 (nineteen eleven) Marshall Colonial Model C tractor, which is the only successfully restored Model C Tractor in the world.

It was even driven for the first time for public view at the Sixth Queensland Heritage Rally – a rally that the recipient instigated and drove to success in his role as Committee President.

Whilst the recipient is a very active member of the Burdekin Machinery Preservationists, it’s not the only organisation he has generously donated his time to over the years. The recipient is also a founding member of the Burdekin Trailer Yacht Club.

Since its inception in the early eighties, he has never ceased to be an office bearer. He has been the backbone of this club – organising everything from working bees to create level building sites and locating materials for club huts; to organising a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, to call into Cape Upstart as part of the nation’s bicentenary celebrations.

The recipient has also been attending Home Hill Boat Club meetings in a formal capacity since the 1960’s (nineteen sixties). In 1967, he became the club’s Treasurer, as well as often taking on the position as secretary. This year will mark the Recipient’s 50th year as Treasurer of the Home Hill Boat Club.

The recipient’s involvement with the Boat Club has seen Groper Creek Township progress from being not only a popular local picnic spot but also a thriving tourist camping and caravanning park. He has assisted in working bees, construction of amenities, liaising with and lobbying authorities in early days for providing power and roads, and the clean-up of debris after natural disasters.

The recipient has played a critical role in three major organisations in the Burdekin Shire over the past half century. He has helped to preserve our machinery history; to bring visitors to our region for events; and has ensured the continuous development of Groper Creek as a wonderful place for both local families and for travelling campers.

The 2018 Citizen of the Year Award is presented to Alfred Shand.

Each year the Burdekin Shire Council sponsors the Acquisitive Art Prize section of the Burdekin Art Society Water Festival Exhibition.

The winning piece of artwork is presented to the Citizen of the Year.

Young Citizen of the Year

Nominees –  Bella Linton, Sarah McDonnell, Mathew Trenfield

Winner – Sarah McDonnell

The recipient of the Young Citizen of the Year Award is a passionate member of the Burdekin community who aspires to make a positive difference through her actions. She is enthusiastically involved in an extensive range of events and organisations. These include the Burdekin Shire Youth Council, Burdekin PCYC Youth Management Team, Rotary Interact and Australian Air Force Cadets.

Her work ethic and passionate commitment to causes has not been unnoticed. In 2017, she attended the Altitude ‘yLead’ School Program, which is dedicated to identifying potential future leaders.

She was also selected to take part in the James Cook University Young Diplomat Program as a researcher and team member.

In March this year, she will attend the STEM Girls Power Camp Program at Queensland University of Technology. Her successful selection in this program was the result of an intensive nomination process, which aimed to choose inspirational ambassadors who could empower young girls about careers surrounding science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Despite only being 14 years old, the recipient already has a deep understanding of the value and place of volunteering in the community. She is a regular fundraiser for Relay for Life and the Red Shield Appeal, and often volunteers her time at Chaplin’s School Breakfasts.

The recipient hopes to continue to follow her passion of helping people by becoming a doctor in the Australian Army. If her strong work ethic and successes to date are anything to judge by, we’re sure she will excel in her field and wish her all the best in her endeavours.

The 2018 Young Citizen of the Year Award is presented to Sarah McDonnell.

Young Citizen of the Year (Achievement Award)

Winner – Mathew Trenfield


In 2015, the recipient of the Achievement Award decided he wanted to collect donations for those less fortunate over the Christmas period. Despite being only 10 years old, he organised collections of donations for the Salvation Army and Townsville Children’s Hospital. He also assisted in handing out the gifts and hampers.

The recipient has continued to collect donations every Christmas period since2015. He has donated to organisations such as the Ronal McDonald House Townsville and Burdekin Pet Rescue.

At only 12 years of age, the recipient has shown that he understands the value of helping others. His kind and compassionate spirit is to be commended.

The 2018 Junior Citizen of the Year Achievement Award is presented to Mathew Trenfield.

Life Time Contribution Award

Nominees – John Furnell, Les Wellington

Winner – Les Wellington


The recipient of this award has dedicated over 50 years and countless hours to the Ayr Weightlifting and Body Building Club. The recipient opened the gym four days a week and has spent countless hours cleaning, maintaining and upgrading the equipment.

The recipient was always welcoming to new gym members. He often spends time with weightlifting beginners, and shows them different exercises and the correct lifting technique to ensure they stay injury free.

As a former world and Australian record holder, his presence in the Club is inspirational to all those who wish to pursue Weightlifting or Body Building competitively.

The 2018 Life Time Contribution Award is presented to Les Wellington.

Community Event of the Year

Nominees – Burdekin Auto Festival Car & Bike Show – hosted by Burdekin Cruisers Car Club, Burdekin Growers Race Day- hosted by Burdekin Race Club Inc.,  Fast Track Talent Showcase- hosted by Burdekin Shire Youth Council, Golden Octopus Charity Bullride – hosted by The Golden Octopus Foundation

Winner – Fast Track Talent Showcase – hosted by Burdekin Shire Youth Council


The Community Event of the Year Award is awarded to a group whose event showcased the extensive talent on offer here in the Burdekin and regional Queensland.

The Fast Track Talent Showcase was held over two days, with participants given the opportunity to perform in heats in front of industry professionals. They were also able to take part in an industry workshop with Yoyo Music Manager, Christine Collyer. The top 20 performers were then asked to perform the following day in the Fast Track Showcase, where over $2,500 (two thousand five hundred dollars) was available in prizes. This Grand Final Showcase included a mini concert by 2016 X Factor Winner and Australian Eurovision entrant Isaiah Firebrace.

Last year, the Fast Track Talent heats attracted over 100 local and regional entertainers and approximately 700 spectators over the two day showcase. This was a record number for the Burdekin Showcase, with the Grand Final Showcase being a near sell out.

The Fast Track Talent Showcase was an invaluable experience for many local and regional performers who wish to pursue a career in the entertainment or music industry.

They were able to interact with and ask questions of industry professionals, as well as showcase their talents in front of a professional panel as well as their family and friends. In fact, the organising group have already received requests from other local groups seeking the contact details of the performers for future events.

This collective group of young individuals exceeded all expectations with their 2017 Burdekin Fast Track event. Their hard work has helped to provide wonderful future opportunities for youth in our community.

The 2018 Community Event of the Year is presented to the Burdekin Shire Youth Council for the 2017 Fast Track Talent Showcase.  

Senior Environment Award

Nominees – Thomas McShane, Gary and Angela Spotswood

Winner – Gary and Angela Spotswood


The recipients of this award and their farming enterprise are leading the way for sustainability in agriculture.

Since 2013, this pair has worked to drastically reduce their property’s impact on local waterways. This was done by restoring a 100-hectare lagoon on the property- an important habitat for local wildlife. Over the years, this lagoon had become chocked with oxygen stripping weeds and was filled with nutrient-rich water that had entered from the surrounding cane paddocks. The combination of these led to a serious decline in water quality of the lagoon.

The recipients worked hard to reduce the levels of irrigation water entering the lagoon. They changed their practices to include more crop rotations, minimal cultivation, revised irrigation scheduling, and smaller cup sizes in irrigation to minimise the volume of runoff. They also invested money in a recycle pump to redirect excess water onto the farm.

These changes in farming practices saw the lagoon able to filter and contain runoff during rainfall. This in turn has helped to improve water quality for downstream areas, including the Great Barrier Reef.

The recipients’ are open with their farming practices. They share their projects, trials, ideas, and stories with various interested parties, making them true leaders in the community.

They have hosted field days, workshops and a cross-regional bus tour. Their story has been shared in case studies, articles and even on ABC Queensland’s Sunday Night news broadcast.

By sharing their story, the recipients have helped other people in their industry to see that sustainable farming is possible and that it can improve farm performance.

The 2018 Senior Environment Award is presented to Gary and Angela Spotswood.

Senior Cultural Award

Nominees – Mickey McKellar

Winner – Mickey McKellar


The recipient of this award is the formidable driving force behind the Burdekin Readers and Writers Association.

In 2015, the Association first held the ‘Ignite Your Mind: Burdekin Readers and Writers Festival’, hosting authors such as David Hunt and Nick Earls. This festival quickly grew, hosting another 14 authors in 2016 and with thousands of attendees.

In 2017, the decision was made to rest the festival for one year; however this did not stop the Association from bringing literary heavyweights to our region. Last year the Burdekin Readers and Writers Association, largely thanks to the recipient’s tireless work, hosted ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ author Melina Marchetta; celebrated children’s author Ian McIntosh; and former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce.

The recipient then brought Marchetta and McIntosh to a number of local schools, giving school children an invaluable opportunity to meet these high-calibre authors.

In addition to all of this, she has been instrumental in the creation of ‘Scribblers’- a local group filled with budding writers.

This recipient is passionate about the future of literature and is a fine example of cultural service to the community.

The winner of the 2018 Australia Day Senior Cultural Award is presented to Mickey McKellar.

Junior Cultural Award

Nominees – Alysse Contzonis, Kelsy Rye

Winners – Alysse Contzonis, Kelsy Rye


Due to the high calibre of entrants this year, the judges have made the unanimous decision to honour both nominees with the Junior Cultural Award.

The first recipient of the Junior Cultural Award has been involved in cultural events in the Burdekin from the very young age of 3 years old. Since then, she has travelled all over Australia competing at both regional and international levels for Dancing.

2017 in particular was a year full of achievements for this recipient. She represented the Burdekin in several regional competitions, including the Charters Towers Eisteddfod where she received the Perpetual Trophy in the 13 Years Tap category.

At the 2017 Showcase National Dance Competition held on the Gold Coast, she was awarded 4th (fourth) Overall Teen Soloist as well as Runner Up Lyrical and Tap Soloist. Her talent was acknowledged when she was invited to compete at the NRG Dance Project in Sydney, where she won her Tap category. She also mentored many younger students through their ADA Tap Examinations last year, with many of them gaining outstanding results.

This recipient is an inspiration to fellow Burdekin Dancers. Prior to her starting at her current dance school, very few dancers travelled outside of Queensland to compete. However, after seeing her success, that mindset has changed. She has proven that coming from a small town is no disadvantage if you possess grit, determination and commitment.

The first recipient of the 2018 Junior Cultural Award is Alysse Contzonis.

The second recipient of the Junior Cultural Award is someone who is involved in a wide range of cultural activities. She is a regular supporter of the Burdekin Junior Eisteddfod; Burdekin Festival of Performing Arts; and the Burdekin Singers and Theatre Company; as well as various School and Catholic Women’s League functions.

This recipient shows unwavering commitment to all productions she is involved in. She’s regularly the first to arrive to rehearsals, and the last to leave. She commits to rehearsals wholeheartedly and often volunteers behind the scenes.

Her volunteering in the wider community is something not known by many. She regularly volunteers at church masses and performs when Catholic Women’s League requires entertainment for one of their many functions. Whilst she does this purely for the love of performing and not for recognition, it is appropriate that we recognise her today for her outstanding contribution to the arts in our community.

The second recipient of the 2018 Junior Cultural Award is Kelsy Rye.

Excellence Award

Nominees – John Furnell, Alex Lawson

Winner – John Furnell


This year’s Excellence Award recipient is a selfless and compassionate member of our community who is unrelentingly generous with his time. He is involved in countless clubs, organisations and committees in the Burdekin Shire.

Some of his roles include no less than four official roles at the Ayr Surf Life Saving Association; President and volunteer of the Friends of the Theatre; and the joint co-ordinator of the Burdekin Justice of the Peace in the Community program. He is also a Burdekin Men’s Shed member; Home Hill Choral Society member; and a member of the Burdekin Be Active Advisory Group just to name a few.

Some community members may even know him as Santa Claus, as he regularly volunteers his time with local kindergartens, aged homes, Burdekin Shire Council events and nearly any other organisation who asks.

This wide breadth of affiliations should be commended, as it means the recipient has positively affected nearly every possible demographic in the Burdekin.

When recently asked why he enjoyed being a part of the Burdekin Be Active Advisory Group, he replied “Because I just want the best for this community”. This one sentence succinctly summarises the recipient’s ethos and dedication to our community. He is a true role model.

The 2018 Excellence Award is presented to John Furnell.

Excellence Achievement Award

Winner – Alex Lawson


This year the judges have decided to present an Achievement Award in the Excellence Award category.

The recipient of the Achievement Award has been described as a sportsman, coach, mentor, volunteer, husband, father and friend to many.

As boxing trainer at the PCYC, this individual gives his time freely to coach the youth of the Burdekin three days a week. He has coached several boxers to National, State and Australian title levels, with three boxers going on to win Australian Titles.

His enthusiasm and commitment to his boxers is an inspiration. Over the years, he has organised numerous successful sausage sizzles and fundraisers to raise much needed funds for his boxing program and to cover his boxer’s travel fees.

Though the recipient coaches his students in boxing, his main goal is to ensure that each young person he encounters succeeds in life by making the right decisions and learning from their mistakes. He enforces the meaning of respect and how important it is to show that respect to every other person.

The recipient’s kind attitude and strength of character have earned him the respect and high regard of his boxers and their families. He has changed the path of many lives in our community for the better.

The 2018 Excellence Achievement Award is presented to Alex Lawson.

Sports Administrator Award

Nominees – Cara Trindle

Winner – Cara Trindle


The recipient of the 2018 Sports Administrator Award is another dedicated member of the Burdekin Netball Association. In her role as President, this recipient is responsible for overseeing all the activities of the association. She can be found at the courts every week from 4pm when she starts setting up equipment, and will stay there well past 10pm after everyone else has left.

In addition to her role as President, she is the acting Netball Convenor. This is a big role, requiring her to organise over 40 umpires every week.

She led the Association to success last year when she, along with the 2018 Senior Sports Person of the Year, co-coached and co-captained the Burdekin Premier League squad. Together, they guided the team to their maiden Minor Premiership. She also coached the Burdekin Premier League Reserve Team and travelled to Townsville for every one of their games.

The success continued when she helped organise the 2017 Mixed Netball Competition, which saw its biggest number of participants to date. She is undoubtedly the backbone of the Burdekin Netball Association.

Outside of our shire, she is the Magnetic North Region Vice President.

The 2018 Sports Administrator Award is presented to Cara Trindle.  

Senior Sportsperson of the Year Award

Nominees – Sonya Lampton

Winner – Sonya Lampton


The recipient of the 2018 Senior Sports Person of the Year Award is an outstanding ambassador for the Burdekin through her love and commitment to Netball.

This person has been heavily involved in both local and regional netball as a player for many years. In 2017, she became co-coach and co-captain of the Burdekin Netball Association’s Premier League team. The benefits of her mentoring were instantly obvious. Under her guidance the team were able to secure the Burdekin’s first ever minor premiership in the competition.

Individually, she also excelled. The recipient was selected as the Townsville Premier League All-Star team’s Goal Attack. This award is given to the top Goal Attack throughout the entire competition. She was also recognised as the competition’s Most Valuable Player for 2017, and is the first Burdekin player to receive this award in 15 years of competition.

Outside of Premier League, the recipient also shares her knowledge with the younger members of the Netball Association. She volunteers her time every week to coach the 5 to 7 years girls. She also captains her own A-Grade team as well as umpires each week.

Not restricted to only netball, the recipient is a talented touch football player, and represented the Burdekin at the annual North Queensland Championships in Townsville.

The recipient is passionate about the future of all sport in the Burdekin and deserves the praise and thanks of our community.

The 2018 Senior Sports Person of the Year is presented to Sonya Lampton.

Junior Sportsperson of the Year

Nominees – Terry Connors, Jade Escriva, Tara Jenkins, Luke McNee, Damon Pitcher, Nikita Wallis, Keely Warcon

Winner – Luke McNee


The recipient of the 2018 Junior Sports Person of the Year Award receives this award for his outstanding achievements in water-skiing.

He is a three event skier and has won numerous slalom, jump and trick tournaments in the Northern Regions. He currently holds the under 14 years Boys Slalom record and is the Under 17 Years Queensland Boys Trick champion.

Due to his outstanding achievements, the recipient has been selected to represent Australia in the 2018 Australian/Kiwi Challenge held in New Zealand. He has also been selected as part of the Australian Junior World Squad which will travel to Spain to compete in 2018.

The recipient also recently obtained Level One Slalom and Trick Judge Qualification, making him one of only a handful of qualified judges in Queensland.

The recipient is a passionate skier who is always happy to help both young and old skiers improve their skills. His unwavering motivation, combined with his humble attitude and willingness to give back to his club makes this person a worthy recipient of this award.

The 2018 Junior Sports Person of the Year is presented to Luke McNee.

Junior Sportsperson of the Year Achievement Award

Winner – Nikita Wallis


The Australia Day Council has made provision for Council to present an Achievement Award to an individual who has made significant contribution to their community or given exceptional service to the community. This year the judges have decided to present an Achievement Award in the Junior Sports Person of the Year category.

The recipient of the Achievement Award has excelled in her chosen sport of Silat Perisai Diri and is currently the highest ranked Australian Junior in the world. Despite being in only her first year of competition, the recipient won numerous gold and silver medals at regional and state titles in 2017.

The recipient recently placed 2nd (second) at the World Championships in Indonesia. Her great attitude during these Championships was recognised when she was the only Australian competitor asked to be a medal presenter. She was also asked to lead the closing ceremony for the Global Competitors.

The recipient’s great attitude also extends outside her sporting achievements. She was still able to receive various year 12 awards whilst training, and also volunteered her spare time to tutor friends and teammates so they too can excel academically.

The 2018 Junior Sports Person of the Year Achievement Award is presented to Nikita Wallis.

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