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Australia Day Award Recipients 2016

By January 26, 2016November 22nd, 2017No Comments

The Mareeba Shire Council today publicly honoured its community, sporting and cultural achievers at the 2016 Australia Day celebration, held at Mareeba Race Course.

Mayor Tom Gilmore and Mareeba Shire Councillors announced the winners of the Australia Day Awards in 10 categories, with Arch McArthur named 2016 Citizen of the Year.

“Mr McArthur was given the honour in recognition of the strong sense of community he has shown over many decades. Arch has a natural graciousness which he extends to everyone he deals with, both socially and professionally,” Mayor Tom Gilmore said. (Full bio below)

“Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Joshua Priestly. Joshua was recognised for his leadership role at St Stephens Catholic College, his contribution to a host of community events, his participation with organisations such as Rosie’s Van and his assistance in fundraising for many charities,” Cr Gilmore said. (Full bio below)

The remaining awards (Full bios below) went to:

Community Event of the Year – Historical Society of Mareeba

Development of Commerce and Industry Award – FNQ Rotary Field Days

Environmental Excellence award – Ian Adcock

Community Service award – Bob Madden

Coach/Administrator award – Connie Martens

Senior Sports award – Jennifer McCarthy

Junior Sports award – Celeste Petersen

Arts and Cultural award – Toni Rogers

In other highlights of the Australia Day celebrations at Mareeba, 8 people became Australian Citizens in the special Australia Day Citizenship ceremony.

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR – Arch McArthur (Winner)

Always one to be involved in anything to better the future of Kuranda and district, Arch has proven himself to be a successful lobbyist, who has been able to identify grant opportunities and obtain significant funding towards important community infrastructure projects. He has been influential; both in governance and in fund raising for organisations such as the Kuranda Recreation Centre and the Kuranda Amphitheatre Society, Kuranda Infrastructure Advisory Committee, Kuranda Neighbourhood Centre and the Kuranda RSL Memorial Bowls and Social Club.

Arch has been instrumental in raising over $790,000 for the Kuranda community from government grants, both state and federal. Arch also organised the design and construction of the bowls club green, car park, tennis courts and club house with private funds he was able to obtain. Arch served on the initial committee for the Kuranda Main Street Program which developed into Tourism Kuranda. Arch McArthur is more than a local to Kuranda, but an integral part of the fabric of the community.


A successful farmer who has continuously chaired the Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association since 1995, Joe also sits on many other committees; both business and community related, including the Mareeba Chamber of Commerce, Mareeba Dimbulah Irrigation Area Council, Rotary International and Tablelands Futures Corporation.

Joe helped in the formation of the Australian Mango Industry Association and served on that board as chairman. Joe has gained some insight and better understanding of the art community by serving as chair of the Mareeba Shire Council Regional Art Development Fund. He also serves in Rotary and gives back to the community in a voluntarily capacity.

Young Citizen of the Year – Joshua Priestly (Winner)

Joshua Priestly is a young man with a mission in life. Joshua has been an excellent role model for the youth of our community through his strong work ethic, determination, leadership qualities and service to others. Joshua has been active in outreach activities and raising money and awareness for Rosie’s, Friends on the Street. He has spent many hours assisting with the Rosie’s van by serving food and drink in a friendly and non-judgemental way, as well as playing basketball and football with the young people who frequent the van.

Joshua has been pivotal in the signing of a sister school agreement between St Stephen’s Catholic College and Sano Nihon Daigaku in Japan. The sensitivity he demonstrated was instrumental in signing the agreement. He successfully bridged the gap between the two cultures and promoted the community of Mareeba in a very favourable light.

Joshua stands out by having a presence as a natural leader, seeing someone who needs a hand and helping out with little regard to the cost to his personal time.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Caitlin Goodhew 

Caitlin’s all around ability and dedication to her community has seen her involved in all aspects of community work. Caitlin is a talented musician and is devoted to the promotion and performance of music.

She can be found performing at many community events as well as participating in many fundraising activities.

Caitlin recently travelled to Cambodia to volunteer at an orphanage school. She is never shy to give her time to a worthy cause, while maintaining high academic standards. Caitlin is also a member of Interact, the junior Rotary organisation, where she participates in many of their fundraising activities. She participates in Relay for Life, has been a Beacon Foundation Student Ambassador as well as completing the Helping Friends Program.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Rebecca Nethery

Rebecca has consistently contributed voluntary deeds to her community of Chillagoe as well as Mareeba Shire itself, particularly in the field of music. She has actively assisted with fundraising activities for local organisations such as Parents and Citizens Association, Rural Fire Service and the Chillagoe Alliance.

Rebecca has helped put the town of Chillagoe in the news in country music circles. The Tamworth Country Music Festival has just wrapped up for 2016, where she has just won the People’s Choice Award for Most Promising Future Star. She has also recently acquired the Brumby Award for the Best Female Vocalist of 2015.

Development of Commerce and Industry Award – FNQ Rotary Field Days

Held bi-annually, Rotary FNQ Field Days has grown exponentially since its conception more than 25 years ago and is the largest agricultural Field Day in Far North Queensland. This community event raised $190,000 for use in community activities by volunteers of Rotary.

The astonishing support from the community, businesses, service clubs and sponsors is testament to the reason for the event to continue, thereby providing economic development opportunities for our local communities into the future. Since the 2011 event, it was clear that a bigger sight was needed, so in May 2013 the Mareeba Rodeo Grounds were transformed into the largest and most comprehensive display of agricultural equipment and associate products and services in the region.

In 2015, the event grew so much that there were 400 sites sold and approximately 18,000 people in attendance!

Environmental Excellence Award – Ian Adcock

A man of the land, Ian became interested in land care during the preparation of the CYPLUS Report. He then joined the Mitchell River Watershed Group in 1996 and is still a member today, and has been the chairman over the past six years.

When Regional NRM bodies were being formed, Ian was elected to become the Cook Shire Rep on the steering committee, the committee eventually formed the Northern Gulf. The organization was set up to advocate, represent and protect the concerns and aspirations of Qld NRM Volunteer Groups as an independent voice. In 2014 Ian became the Director for the Northern Gulf.

Over the years he had had strong ties to organisations and volunteer groups associated with land care. He was also instrumental in gaining a $3.4 funding boost for a weeds and feral animals project for Cape York; which continues today.

Community Service Award – Bob Madden (Winner)

If you want to know anything about the NBN rollout, ask Bob! His assistance to Council with the changeover from analogue to digital in both Speewah and Chillagoe has been invaluable.

Bob has also been involved in the establishment of many Kuranda groups and committees from the mid-1990’s to the present day. The Speewah Residents’ Association began in 1991 with the first meeting held in Bob’s home. Since that time he has provided advice and guidance to all. Bob has been a volunteer firefighter with the Speewah Rural Fire Brigade since 1994, just recently relinquishing his active role to assist as a support member.

He has acted as a liaison with local, state and federal government agencies by making the voices of Kuranda heard.

HIGHLY COMMENDED  – Supporters of 65 Roses Inc Mareeba Fundraising 

The group, formed in 2011, was inspired by Shelley Shepherd, a local girl who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. They have a passion for fundraising and helping other people who are affected by CF.

The committee, consisting of only ten people, have raised to date over $187,000 by holding fundraising events. With the construction of the new 14 bed Adult CF Unit at Prince Charles Hospital, the group pledged $13,200 towards the purchase of the white goods needed.

The Mareeba group contributed funds to Supporters of 65 Roses in Townsville, helping to support a researcher for two years.


 Not one to let his disability get in the way, Colin has always been a tireless worker for the Kuranda community; raising much-needed funds for community organisations by producing and selling his own joke books (over the last 27 years) and other items as a means of raising funds towards important Lions Club projects in the town.

Colin for many is an example of how to overcome the confines of adversity and works tirelessly for the community.

Arts and Cultural Award – Toni Rogers (Winner)

An artist of many years’ standing, Toni is dedicated and committed to promoting all arts and artists in the local area. She volunteers her time as a member of the RADF committee and other organisations including the Kuranda Arts Co-op. She promotes the arts by her half-page contribution in The Kuranda Paper which features a Kuranda artist each month. She continues to serve on the production team at The Kuranda Paper. Toni has also been the voluntary publicity officer for the Kuranda Arts Co-operative for the past ten years, working to ensure all her fellow artists receive the recognition they deserve.

Toni’s contribution has had a considerable impact on the local community, and many artists have gained recognition and publicity due to her tireless work and efforts.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Laurie Tracona 

Laurie is a well-known member of the community who has dedicated his whole working career to Mareeba State High School, where he has taught and mentored generations of students. Laurie’s greatest passion is the theatre, where he remains an active member. He has volunteered at many community events and has been acknowledged for his community work with a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.

Laurie has unselfishly devoted his life to the Mareeba Theatre Group as an actor, producer, director, light and sound director and prop maker. He has also helped guide and train upcoming actors. His help and support to the theatre group and its members is unprecedented.


As a writer, actor, producer, director and reviewer, Ken has had a long association with theatre groups in Far North Queensland. Ken also has directed plays at Rondo Theatre. Ken has contributed a weekly arts column in “The Tablelander” newspaper for the past ten years and writes review for plays performed in the Far North for the prestigious national magazine “Stage Whispers”.

A true lover of the arts, Ken has also been instrumental in directing one act festivals in the Far North.

Coach/Administrator Award –  Connie Martens

Without the dedication, leadership and hard work the Mareeba Netball club would not be as successful as it is today. She has been the driving force behind the pursuit of grant money to construct four multi-purpose outdoor courts with lighting and other sporting requirements. Without Connie’s vision and dedication the dream of providing a number of suitable courts for district and regional competition would not have transpired. The project will be completed mid-2016.

Not only has the netball club gained from Connie’s dedication but other clubs such as the Mareeba Basketball Club and the Mareeba Cricket Club have been fortunate to benefit from Connie’s hard work. She has also help support the community of Mareeba since the project will also include pathways suitable for cycling, running and walking between Davies Park and Firth Park. Well done Connie!

Senior Sports Award – Jennifer McCarthy

Jennifer in 2015 was ranked in the top 5% in her age group in the world for women in her chosen sport of triathlons. Having only trained and competed in this sport for four years, Jennifer has displayed extraordinary talent and commitment in remaining focussed with her training in three separate disciplines which include swimming, pushbike riding and running.

She was an Australian representative at the 70.3 World Championships in Canada last year and has competed in several other triathlons in Queensland. She received third place in her age group in the most recent Coral Coast Tri-Athlon and Tri Port Tri-Athlon. Jennifer is certainly a worthy recipient of the 2016 Senior Sports Award.

Junior Sports Award –  Celeste Petersen (Winner)

Starting out in her chosen sport at the young age of eight, Celeste gets involved in any sport which involves a football. Her enthusiasm for the sport is not limited to soccer, but extends to touch and rugby league.

Although not limited to football, Celeste has represented the Mareeba State High School on the Peninsula Team in javelin and competes in cross country events. Celeste’s skills also extend to coaching and refereeing.

In 2015 Celeste was nominated by the Mareeba State High School and received the prestigious “Pierre de Coubertin Award”. The award is presented by the Australian Olympic Committee to secondary school students who demonstrate values which are consistent with the Olympic Movement through their participation in sporting activities. She was selected for the NQ Marlins (Rugby League) and represented NQ at the State Championships, with her team winning the carnival!

HIGHLY COMMENDED  – Zackary Mulholland 

At age 17 Zackary has already won ten medals in his boxing career. He is also a two-time Queensland champion and Gold Gloves champion. Zackary is ranked number two in his weight division in Australia. Having switched to the AIBA (International Boxing Association – amateur) gives him the opportunity to fight for future Olympic Games, World Games and overseas.


Of his many achievements, Tyler was chosen to represent Queensland as part of the Pacific School Games in 2015 for U12 Boys Football (Soccer); at which the team placed 4th overall in Australia. He also represented his school at the District Track and Field and was selected to attend the State Track and Field championships in October.

Excelling in his other sports of track and field and futsal, he is also a member of the Boys U12 team for the National Premier League – FNQ Heat Football, where he has played for the past 12 months; his team making the grand final and named runners up for the season.

Community Event of the Year Award – Historical Society of Mareeba

A photographic display for the anniversary of World War I was pulled together a sub-committee of three members from the Mareeba Historical Society. The display was split up into four sections; local soldiers, indigenous soldiers, nurses and medicos and non-combatants. A plaque honouring the sacrifices of those who served in World War I was unveiled. Positive comments by the community proved that the time and effort involved was worthwhile.

The photographic display has been enhanced by displays of WWI artefacts loaned by various members of the local community. Only certain pertinent facts could be displayed due to lack of room to display all the information – with the hours of research and culling of information running into the hundreds.

As each display was dismantled, the information has been placed into a special book so that it can be viewed again and no information would be lost for future generations.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Dimbulah Poppy Project

To commemorate 100 years of the ANZACS a small group of ladies from the Dimbulah Community Centre created more than 600 red poppies by hand for the Dimbulah Anzac Dawn Service; at which over 500 children, parents and elderly people attended. These ladies also organised a ‘memory table’ which consisted of local people displaying military archives.

The community came together to be part of this great 100 year commemoration of our ANZACS. The collaboration of work from the members of the community was wonderful and something to be proud of!