Horsham is Australia’s tidiest town

The Rural City made history at Keep Australia Beautiful awards last month when it became the first Victorian town to win the national honour.

Queensland Environment Minister Dean Wells presented the award at a gala dinner at Brisbane Convention Centre. A 15 member Horsham contingent including Mayor Gayle Crooke and tidy towns stalwart, Don Johns, were at the dinner to accept the award.

Horsham won ahead of Burnie in Tasmania; Dubbo, New South Wales; Emerald, Queensland; Port Vincent, South Australia; Wyalkatchem, Western Australia and Adelaide River, Northern Territory. Horsham made the finals after scooping the pool and winning 12 state awards last November.

Dick Olesinki from the Keep Australia Beautiful Council visited Horsham for two days in December for national judging.

It is the second time Horsham has represented Victoria in the national Keep Australia Beautiful finals. Naracoorte in South Australia won the national honour ahead of Horsham in 1995.

Don Johns, Horsham Tidy Towns Committee chairman since the group formed 17 years ago, said that winning the award was an ‘extraordinary’ coup for the city.

“This is the greatest honour, and thank you, that Horsham community could ever receive,” he said.“It’s a people’s award. We’ve won this because everyone in the community has been involved – from primary school pupils to the elderly.

“This provides our city with an extraordinary publicity tool and shows people from across Australia that Horsham people are proud of their community.”

Don Johns took the opportunity in his acceptance speech to stress to the 100 strong dinner crowd it was vital that all State Governments continued to support Keep Australia Beautiful.

“All governments should continue to support this program because it involves people working together for their community,” Don Johns said. “Horsham is very proud to be part of this wonderful program.”

Councillor Crooke said Horsham was an exciting and vibrant city that deserved to win the prestigious prize.

“Horsham is more than just a tidy town,” the Mayor said. This award represents more than rewarding a community that picks up its rubbish and has neatly mown lawns – Horsham has much to offer.”

Councillor Crooke said an ongoing enthusiasm from the tidy towns committee was a great achievement for Horsham.

“There has been an ongoing commitment from the entire community to come up with new initiatives that make Horsham a better place to live,” she said. “By involving school pupils, the program also gives our future leaders a real grounding in civic pride.”

Horsham has long been recognised as a leader in waste management and recycling, being the first area in the state to collect milk cartons for recycling.

The tidy towns committee estimates the community spends 100,000 volunteer hours each year keeping the city in ship shape condition.

Tidy towns take a bow

The 2001 finalists for the national title must first have been named as the Tidiest Town in each State or Territory in 2000. The finalists were as follows.

l Adelaide River (NT) – With a population of less than 300, Adelaide River is located on a huge flood plain 114 kilometres south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway. This is a tightly knit community that actively supports the many beautification and improvement programs around the town. As in many outback, remote communities, the local school is the hub of the community. The wonderfully cared for Adelaide River Primary School is a great example of members of the township working together for the benefit of the town’s future citizens. Coomalie Community Government Council’s leadership, encouragement and support of the Tidy Towns program is a leading example of Local Government working in partnership with the community for a common goal.

l Dubbo (NSW) – A city with approximately 43,000 residents, Dubbo is situated in the geographic centre of New South Wales. With a long standing commitment to Tidy Towns, the community takes a great deal of pride in its city, the environment and the future. Dubbo City represents ‘inland living at its very best’. The Terramungamine Reserve is a highly significant area to the descendants of the Mungah (Ironbark) people. Dubbo’s cultural preservation programs are a great example of cooperation between broad community groups and government agencies.

l Emerald (Qld) – With approximately 13,500 residents, Emerald is a happy, welcoming community. The EEL Committee (Emerald Environment Link) is made up of Shire and community representatives, Landcare, local schools and government department staff and is responsible for a broad range of projects within the town. Emerald’s Botanical Gardens – an Oasis in the Highlands, is a great example of a diverse ecosystem within an urban environment.

l Port Vincent (SA) – With a population of approximately 460, Port Vincent has been a long standing, consistent and successful participant in the Tidy Towns program. Using the theme, ‘From Farm to Foreshore’, the community has been successful in gaining recognition for its ongoing commitment to environmental and economic sustainability. Port Vincent Primary School’s ‘Learnscape’ teaching program is an integrated approach to environmental education and numerous initiatives focus on the marine environment, school grounds and involvement with the community.

l Burnie (Tas) - An Industrial City in Transition - Burnie was once a heavy, industrialised centre and port, but has now become a tourist friendly city. Burnie has undertaken many projects to rejuvenate the central business district, including eye catching street furniture and extensive beautification programs that greet tourists and visitors alike. Wider footpaths, opportunities for al fresco dining, shelter shades, new street lighting and the installation of more litter bins and cigarette butt dispensers are features of the redevelopment program.

l Wyalkatchem (WA) – Strange Name? Beaut Place! This community of about 350 residents in the State’s central wheat belt has been long standing participant in Tidy Towns. Wyalkatchem’s Tidy Towns coordinators have actively promoted the Tidy Towns theme of a community working together to improve the environment and appearance of the place in which they live. Wyalkatchem’s recycling program is unique with a wonderfully restored heritage building being used as a central collection area for the town’s recycled materials.