Cool weather brings big crowd

By James Bennett

More than 250 people attended the annual Berrigan Shire Australia Day awards at Tocumwal.

The event started with the crack of an egg, sizzling bacon and freshly squeezed orange juice served by Australia Day organising committee and Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce volunteers.

Official proceedings started with raising the flag by the four captains of the two Tocumwal schools.

Attendees were treated to a different style of Australia Day swards with organisers straying from a traditional guest speaker, opting instead for a shearing demonstration and bush poetry.

Five ewes were shorn by 17-time Victorian shearing champion Jason Wingfield, while local expert Mark Baldwin spoke about shearing in Australia and different shearing methods.

In his opening to the crowd, Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan shared a personal story about what makes Australia the luckiest country in the world.

‘‘Something really touched me the other day when I went to visit a work colleague who had a spinal cord injury before Christmas,’’ he said.

‘‘Whilst in the waiting room going to visit him, there was a lady who I said ‘hello’ to and she started asking me a few questions.

‘‘She was a Pakistani lady who had been in the country for six weeks and she was there because her son had a spinal cord injury.

‘‘She and her husband had never been to Australia before but she was there beside her 30-year-old son.

‘‘It reinforced to me how lucky we are in Australia; the debate shouldn’t be about the day or why we celebrate, but because of how lucky we are in this country and that we get to live in the Berrigan Shire.’’

The main attraction of the morning was the Berrigan Shire Australia Day awards with Berrigan car mechanic David ‘Woody’ Woodward named Citizen of the Year.

After the ceremony, locals and visitors gathered along the wharf to watch a yellow rubber duck race along the Murray River.

Luck was on the side of Taylor Waldron, 11, with her duck crossing the line first and taking out the $1000 prize.

She picked the duck numbered 912 because it had the number 12. She plans to spend her winnings on a new basketball ring.