EVENTS were cancelled because of COVID, and warm weather saw packed beaches, but Australia Day on the Mornington peninsula remained on track with flag raisings, official awards, citizenship ceremonies and an Indigenous Survival Day at The Briars historic property.
Mornington’s Main Street was closed to traffic and instead of a grand parade, park carnival and night fireworks presented a market day atmosphere with live music and family fun.
Flag raising ceremonies (usually followed by a community breakfast or barbecue) were held at Sorrento, Hastings and Mount Eliza, while Rosebud saw Mornington Peninsula Shire name its citizen and young citizen of the year, Dirk Jansen and Oliver Walker-Peel respectively.
Dromana’s Australia Day committee served breakfast (cooked by members of McCrae Lions Club) in the rotunda on the foreshore.
Citizen of the Year Dirk Jansen started the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation Group in 2019 to highlight the plight of koalas and loss of their habitat on the peninsula.
From its start as a Facebook group to record koala sightings, it is now part of the national Landcare network and has more than 280 members.
The group has been instrumental in getting habitat corridors planted – 20,000 trees planted so far – and is creating a wildlife corridor and biolinks from Somers to Red Hill.
Young Citizen of the Year Oliver Walker-Peel has never let his cerebral palsy diminish his desire to be a leader and inspire others.
He finished year 12 last year as school captain at Balcombe Grammar, where he is credited with demonstrating compassion, leadership and resilience and was known as a supportive and positive role model for other students.
A sports, he participates by commentating as part of the RPP FM support team in Australian rules football and cricket.
The Flinders Motoring Heritage event hosted by Flinders District Lions won the Community Event of the Year award. The event displays classic, vintage, and veteran cars and motorbikes every Easter Sunday.
More than 150 vehicles are exhibited, and it regularly draws around 2000 visitors to Flinders. The event has raised and donated more than $85,000 to community projects.
Recipients of Local Champion awards were Geraldine Bilston, Roslyn Ferres and David Pulling.
Ms Bilston advocates for women who experience domestic and family violence. She is deputy chair of the Victim Survivor Advisory Council and is a victim survivor advocate with Safe Steps Family Violence and Response. Ms Bilston also a volunteer with Mornington Peninsula Family Violence Primary Prevention Collaboration.
Ms Ferres has been a member of McCrae Lions Club since moving to the peninsula in 2015 but has been a long time volunteer. For 40 years she has volunteered with Very Special Kids, more than 30 years with the Girl Guides Association, and has held various roles with a number of community groups.Mr Pullin has been a member of Somers fire brigade for 56 years and was an active fire fighter for most of that time. He received the National Emergencies Medal following the Black Saturday fires and the National Medal for services to a volunteer organisation.
Mr Pullin also volunteered to teach Somers Primary School children simple word working skills and has built honour boards for the school.