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Janet Macdonald, Warrnambool Citizen of the Year 2019

Australia Day honors for long-time gardens and gallery supporter

News Article Date: 
Thursday, 24 January 2019

A community leader who has dedicated countless hours to supporting two of Warrnambool’s most loved cultural institutions is the recipient of this year’s Citizen of the Year award.

Retired humanities teacher Janet Macdonald has been recognised for her efforts on behalf of the Friends of Botanic Gardens and the Warrnambool Art Gallery.

Ms Macdonald is also president of the Warrnambool and District Historical Society.

“It’s a terrific community we live in and there are lots of things you can get involved in,” Ms Macdonald said.

“There are plenty of activities for retired people and since retiring I’ve been working with lots of great people.”

Raised at Cooramook, north of Grassmere, Ms Macdonald’s teaching career took her to other towns where she would enjoy their public galleries and gardens.

“Coming home to Warrnambool I really appreciated our botanic gardens and art gallery,” she said.

“I have a very fervent band of friends who have nominated me for a few awards which I get embarrassed about but I am very honoured.”

All Warrnambool residents and visitors are invited to the Warrnambool Australia Day celebrations, to be held at the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens this Saturday, January 26, from 10.30am to 4pm.

Entertainment includes the Holiday Actors and local musicians Flynn Gurry, Blake Rudland-Castles and the John Hudson Band.

Various community groups will provide food and there will be and games and entertainment for children all afternoon.

The Australia Day awards also recognise a Young Citizen of the Year, Local Achiever and Community Event of the Year.


The other award recipients are:

Young Citizen of the Year – Caitlin Garner

Ms Garner is a Warrnambool Youth Councillor, and a member of the RSL Youth Choir, Emmanuel Branch of Young Vinnies, Holiday Actors Junior Committee, an eisteddfod participant and Dennington Football Netball Club canteen volunteer.


Local Achiever - Edward White

Mr White spends many hours at the Allansford Recreation Reserve and works at the recreation reserve community farm which is a fundraising venture that supports the reserve.

He also volunteers with the Allansford Football Netball Club and Allansford CFA.

Last year he was instrumental in organising the first steam train in 16 years to travel to Warrnambool. The popular passenger service was sold out and large crowds gathered at stations along the way to enjoy the spectacle.

Local achiever - Colleen Hughson

Ms Hughson brought to light the issue of a 'nurdle' spill on Warrnambool's beaches. Few people knew what a nurdle

was, but Ms Hughson set about not only educating the community about this particular form of plastic pollution, but activated and motivated a huge community clean-up effort where everyone from elderly people to school groups, to interested individuals, to environmental groups and artists all joined forces for the "Good Will Nurdle Hunting" effort.

This was the start of what became a much larger campaign, again driven by Colleen, to educate the public about plastic pollution on our beaches, to reduce this pollution and to work with various bodies to monitor and prevent such pollution.


Local Achiever - Valerie Carter


Ms Carter has been a volunteer with the Warrnambool Wildlife Rescue group for about eight years.

She has ventured into the ocean to save a wallaby, nursed injured kangaroos, climbed trees to help koalas, helped untangle seals, rescued giant birds of prey and assisted with all kinds of smaller animals, including bats and possums. Her commitment has saved many native animals.


Community Event of the Year – Small Things Festival

The inaugural Small Things Festival was held on the Civic Green on October 20, 2018 and attracted about 1500 people.

This waste-free festival was designed to inspire and raise awareness about the small things people can do in their daily life to contribute to a more sustainable community. Workshops included yoga; making bees wax wraps, eco-dying of material to reinvent and recycle; visible mending of clothes and four separate ecologically-themed children’s workshops.

The festival offered guided environmental and cultural tours of Lake Pertobe with traditional owners. Community groups, agencies and small businesses involved in the festival included Wannon Water, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Deakin University, Nature Glenelg Trust, Barwon South West Resource Recovery Group, Warrnambool CoastCare LandCare Network, Warrnambool Community Gardens, Clean Oceans Collective, Clean Oceans Foundation, F Project, Warrnambool Modern Cloth Nappy Library, Koroit Irish Dances, Factory Arts and local artist stalls. Deakin University students also provided seminars on research and South West TAFE students undertook training to conduct water quality analysis as part of their Diploma in Land Conservation Management.

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