Wyalkatchem is Australia’s

Presented in Sydney on 5 April 2003, in addition to taking out Australia’s Tidiest Town Award, Western Australia’s town of Wyalkatchem was presented with the Outdoor Advertising Association of Australia Community Pride Award.

This year seven finalists were in the running for the title of Australia’s Tidiest Town. They were Gladstone (Queensland), Horsham (Victoria), Cowra (New South Wales), Katherine and Kalano (Northern Territory), Stanley (Tasmania), Wyalkatchem (Western Australia) and Mount Gambier (South Australia). Each of these was the Tidiest Town winner for their State or Territory in 2002.

For the past nine years Wyalkatchem’s Tidy Towns Coordinators have been working towards becoming Australia’s Tidiest Town. It has been a long road, with State category wins and obtaining five star status on the way. The Town was the State winner in 2000 and 2002 and won awards for Community Spirit at both the State and National levels.

“Without the will to win and a great support from residents we could never have won this award,” said Wyalkatchem’s Tidy Towns Coordinator, Bobbie Reilly.

Just before the National Judge was due in town a storm hit the district and months of work appeared to have literally gone down the drain. Half the population turned out with the most utes seen in the town on any one day to cart the debris away. It was young and old alike who worked. For a district that has suffered from storms and drought conditions in the same year, it shows that dogged determination and a strong community spirit are essential to attain any goals.

“Human resources in our case were more important than financial ones,” Bobbie Reilly said.

All the projects undertaken by the Tidy Towns Team were low budget, funded locally. They have been designed to be sustainable for many years to come with minimal maintenance costs.

National Tidy Towns Judge, Dick Olesinski, assessed the State and Territory winning towns between December and February.

“Today’s Tidy Towns are modern and motivated communities and to take out the Tidiest Town title a community must best exemplify all aspects of the Hungry Jack’s Australian Tidy Towns competition,” said Barton Green, Keep Australia Beautiful National Executive Officer.

The judging takes into account each community’s geographic, environmental and economic circumstances and assesses how efficiently and effectively each community used the resources available to it against a range of criteria. This includes tidiness and litter abatement, resource conservation and waste management, environmental innovation, cultural and natural heritage activities, community interaction, youth activities, visitor friendliness and community presentation and Local Government partnerships within a community.”

Wyalkatchem’s strength is not only community spirit but that all age groups, from all walks of life within the community, worked together for their Town. In the true spirit of Wyalkatchem all residents were invited to a barbeque which took place at the Wyalkatchem Hotel on Tuesday evening following the Sydney awards ceremony. A large number attended and had the opportunity to see the displays that were taken to Sydney and witness the handing over of certificates and trophy by the Tidy Towns Coordinators to Shire President, Councillor Eddie Garner.

“We still use ‘Strange Name Beaut Place’ as our slogan and the involvement with Tidy Towns has certainly made us a Beaut Place,” Councillor Garner said. “The Strange Name may still be correct but our national Tidy Towns title has made sure that our name is now well known.”

In recognition of its win and efforts over many years, the State launch of the Tidy Towns Program Community Progress Awards 2003 was held in Wyalkatchem on 16 April, with some 70 people representing towns throughout Western Australia attending.

Town profile

The Shire of Wyalkatchem is located in the Central Wheatbelt of Western Australia. The population is approximately 620 with about 320 residing in town and the rest in the rural areas. The town of Wyalkatchem is the administrative centre for the Shire and is 190 kilometres from Perth. The regional centres of Northam and Merredin are a little over an hour away.

The climate can be classified as hot and dry with summer temperatures in the high 30s and above. Rainfall is low and overnight temperatures in winter can be very cold.

Although the lifestyle is relaxed, the town is sports minded and facilities exist for football, hockey, netball, basketball, cricket and tennis. There is a swimming pool for summer use, a golf course set in bushland and a well patronised bowling club with social facilities. The main streets are tree lined and parking is easy at all commercial premises in the town.

The town has a general store, post office, bank, churches, newsagent, hardware store, telecentre, roadhouse, furniture store, a butcher and community based facilities. The Wyalkatchem Hotel provides accommodation and there is also a caravan park with ensuite units. There is a hospital in town and a resident doctor. Education is provided at the district high school, which also incorporates primary and pre-primary facilities.

The town has a grain receival point operated by Cooperative Bulk Handling, which can hold nearly 120,000 tonnes of grain and other crops. Wheat and sheep farming are the primary industries in the district, with gypsum mining and tourism the main secondary industries.

The Wyalkatchem CBH Agricultural Museum attracts visitors from many parts of the world and is a feature of the main street in town. There are also heritage buildings and sites throughout the Shire, which reflect the history since settlement in 1904.