Editorial May 21st 2021

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

When I first arrived in Australia with my small Globite reinforced cardboard suitcase looking to make this grand country home I was a typical nineteen year old who thought he knew everything about how things worked and who did what. In TPNG the government did everything that the churches didn’t.

One of the first comments I heard around community volunteerism on arrival was “You gotta do it yourself if you want it because no other bugger will do it for you”. This comment was in regards to the Maroubra Surf Club where my cousin was a volunteer. They wanted to do some urgent renovations and needed money, materials and labour. What I saw over a period of a few short months was the entire community coming together to achieve the outcome and then celebrate what they had achieved. They were all Volunteers.

On first coming to Eurobodalla thirty five years ago I saw the same community volunteer accomplishments across the shire. There were surf clubs, tennis clubs, golf clubs and bowling clubs. There were halls filled with groups all volunteering in their way to improve their towns. Landcare groups dedicated themselves to weeding reserves, wild life groups to the preservation of our native critters. Groups looked after our elderly.

At work I soon discovered that nearly everyone belonged to a group, team, association or collective that contributed one way or another to improving the facilities we enjoyed, or even carving out new facilities for generations to come. In Tuross Head I watched a dedicated group transform an overgrown hillside and gully into the stunning golf course it is today. Others built the tennis courts or flattened the oval for a quality cricket pitch. Next came the building of a Sports Hall. The town already had another hall built by the community in the 1950s along with a bowling club built on land dedicated by the town’s patron.

I recognised that the Tuross Head story of volunteerism and endeavour was universal along the coast and in each town and village the same spirit and drive brought improvements, mostly funded by locals through the sale of a trillion lamingtons, and countless BBQs and raffles.

When we look around us we can see the vestiges of yesteryear when we built our own swimming pools and footy ovals. Back then the Council built roads and collected rubbish and if we wanted anything more then we had to raise the funds to build them such as the footpaths we now enjoy at Sth Durras, Batemans Bay, Moruya, Tuross and Dalmeny Kianga to Narooma. Paths that came from a drive of the community and mostly from their labour and their wallets.

This week celebrates volunteers. While there are many who deserve the limelight for what they do it is also an important time to recognise all of those who might not recognise themselves as “volunteers”. Those who add to the very warp and weft of our incredible community that has been tested all too often in recent times with fire, flood and economic downturn. Each of these quiet achievers has played their own role, in their own way as we looked out for each other and extended a hand, without question, when required.

Being in regional Australia requires us to be more resilient, possibly a little more prepared and certainly more adaptable but the key thing I have observed of rural Australians is their generosity of spirit and their time which the volunteer freely. We are all volunteers in our many capacities. Happy Volunteers Week.

Until next –lei