Council employees Ursula Sleeman (left) and Melinda Petty (right). Photo Andrew Thorpe / Central Telegraph
Council employees Ursula Sleeman (left) and Melinda Petty (right). Photo Andrew Thorpe / Central Telegraph Andrew Thorpe

Moura rolls out the welcome mat on Australia Day

BANANA Shire came together last Tuesday to celebrate Australia Day at the Moura Recreation Grounds.

The event recorded a large turnout, with seating under the shade structure filled to capacity for much of the day.

Characteristically hot weather meant everyone taking part in the official ceremonies was dripping sweat by the end of the proceedings - but plenty of refreshments on hand and a healthy breeze helped to keep things bearable.

Mayor Ron Carige welcomed attendees to the celebrations by talking about Aussie culture, and how it shouldn't be taken for granted, while newly-appointed Ambassador for Moura and Banana Shire, waterskier Mel Collins, extolled the virtues of living in Moura.

"I'm very grateful to live in such a beautiful little town with such a beautiful river at our doorstep," she said.

"Sure Moura doesn't have a cinema, a BCF or a Stockland, but what it has is a beautiful heart filled with beautiful people and I'm extremely proud to call Moura, Australia home."

Alan McTaggart was awarded Banana Shire Citizen of the Year for his involvement with Biloela Enterprise, Biloela Rotary Club and other community organisations.

Madeline Brewer was awarded Young Citizen of the Year.

She was nominated for her extensive involvement in the local community through a variety of volunteer, leadership and mentorship roles.

"We can achieve great things if we support what young people are trying to do today," she told the crowd.

Ben O'Donnell received the Volunteer Award for his work with the Theodore RSL, while the Community Group or Team Award went to the Moura Fish Stocking Group.

The most joyous part of the day for at least two families came with the citizenship ceremony, held in conjunction with the rest of the celebrations.

Marcio Cardoso dos Santos and Jacquelin Mesa, both originally from Brazil, are now Australian citizens, after living in Biloela for the past 10 years.

"We're very pleased," said Jacquelin, who works as an assistant nurse.

"Since we got here, all Australian people have been very helpful - helping us to learn English and to find a job here."

Nicky Poole of Taroom took out the first prize in the Banana Shire Council photography competition, with Country Cook.

Outside the shade structure there was entertainment for everyone throughout the day, with a bouncy castle, train ride and whip cracking on offer for the kids, as well as representatives from Bush Baby Wildlife Rescue on hand to teach people about some of Australia's native fauna.

Moura local Bec Wolski was behind the Young Farmers competition, which saw competitors cracking whips, moving hay bales and rolling a swag while racing the clock.

"They do it at the Ekka in Brisbane - this one wasn't quite so big but I thought it was about time we had a competition like that here!" said Mrs Wolski.

Music throughout the day was provided by a vocal group, and at important intervals Wayne Martin played the didgeridoo.

"It was a credit to the Moura community and most appropriate to the event overall," said Alan McTaggart.

Mayor Ron Carige said Council was pleased with how the day panned out.

"A lot of organising goes into this event," he said.

"We're fortunate here that we have one event for the whole Shire, so it's great to see everyone coming out to Moura and getting together."

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