Benalla welcomes new citizens and celebrates locals with Australia Day awards

By Simon Ruppert

Australia Day in Benalla and district kicked off with a series of flag raisings, community breakfasts and Achiever of the Year awards.

The sun was shining for events held in Benalla, Baddaginnie, Devenish, Goomalibee, Goorambat, Lima/Swanpool, Mollyullah, Tatong, Thoona and Warrenbayne.

Moorngag Mower Mania delights Aussie Day crowd

As always the big event of the day was the Australia Day award Presentations held at BPACC.

The first entertainment of the day was provided by TDA Performing arts whose students thrilled the crowd with a choreographed dance routine.

TDA performing arts opened the show at BPACC. Photo: Christine Walters.

The event was hosted by Benalla Theatre Company member Jamie Boatwood who welcomed guests, award winners and nominees before introducing Mayor Danny Claridge, who addressed the crowd.

Coffee for a cause at Mokoan Hub

He then introduced the second entertainer - FCJ College Student Ben Milner, who performed with an acoustic guitar.

Talented teen Ben Milner performed two songs for those in attendance

The first official ceremony of the day was to welcome eight new Australian Citizens:

● Ibrahim Bilal;

● Rina Caddy;

● Michelle Depio;

● James Depio;

● Aruna Epage;

● Shirmila Gamage;

● Punarji Gunaratne; and

● Bilal Khalid.

Photos: Christine Walters

Coo-ee: Forgotten casualties of the great war

After a bush poem, performed by Geoffrey W Graham, provided some entertainment prior to the award presentations.

Benalla Citizen of the Year - Brad Hearn

Benalla Citizen of the year 2020 Brad Hearn. Photo: Christine Walters

Brad is a passionate and dedicated member of the community and has been recognised
for his excellence in the field of youth and educational services, in particular his leadership qualities, compassion and positive role model for youth in our community.

Benalla Young Citizen of the Year - Willow Plex

Benalla Young Citizen of the year 2020 Willow Plex

Willow’s extremely selfless and generous support for others is evident through her work as an active member of Benalla P-12 College’s student representative council during the year where she led a range of fundraising events for the RSPCA, State School Relief and Salvation Army.

Community Event of the Year - Devenish Anzac Tribute Day

Devenish community group member June Howard. Photo Christine Walters

The Devenish Anzac Tribute Day held on Sunday, April 14, has been in the planning stage since 2017 when the Devenish Silo Art Group was formed for the sole purpose of managing the project to paint the three GrainCorp Silos with a military theme, World War I nurse, modern-day medic and a light horseman.

The tribute event included a grand street parade of local servicemen and women 4th Light horse Epping re-enactment group, vintage cars, the Vintage Bicycle Corp, Hawthorn Pipe Band, Australian Great War Association members, Army School of Health, Wangaratta-Benalla Air Cadets, Benalla Theatre group dressed in 1920s costumes and the general public marching.

Community Group of the Year - Devenish Community Group

The Devenish community group. Photo: Chrtistine Walters

The Devenish Community Group and some of the subsidiary groups that sit under it have been established for many years, quietly achieving their goals with the Devenish Silo Art Group being the most recent.

Quilty calls for new CFA trucks

Bush poet Geoffrey W Graham. Photo: Christine Walters

The event concluded with a second poem by Geoffrey W Graham before attendees enjoyed a light lunch as they mingled with winners and nominees.