Historic Bella Vista Farm hosted the Hills Shire Australia Day Celebrations with a spectacular array of activities for everyone brave enough to venture out in near record temperatures.
But in true Aussie spirit, the show went on with performers, vendors, and logistics staff giving their best in spite of the conditions and small audience numbers for much of the early afternoon.
There were entertainers on stage and roaming the grounds, an animal farm, lamington making workshop, sandpits, mobile play centre, sheep shearing demonstrations, life Be In It activities, dance displays, rides, essentials services displays, food vans, BBQs and for the weary, bean bags to relax on.
Local radio station Alive 90.5 had its mobile studio set up doing live broadcasts from the event including interviews, promotions and weather updates.
Highlights of the day, organised by Hills Shire Council, included the High-5 children's show, presentation of the Australia Day Awards and the Australia Day Ambassador Address.
The Hills Shire Australia Day Ambassador is Amar Hadid, 20, a Sydney University Student studying a Bachelor of Arts in Science and Arabic, who is also a Pro-Skater and Rapper.
Amar, a member of the Sydney University Elite Athlete Program, has her sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where skateboarding will debut as an Olympic sport. She made the world's Top 20 skaters during the 2018 World Park Championships and was rated fifth in the 2017 World Vert Championships, both held in Nanjing, China.
In her address, Amar spoke of her experiences growing up and the influence of her parents, particularly her father, in shaping her views on the important role diversity plays in Australia. She paid tribute to the indigenous people who have more than 40,000 years of history and said Australia Day was a unique celebration bringing Australians with their diverse backgrounds, together as one.
As a late afternoon breeze brought cooler conditions, it also brought out a steady stream of people eager for the evenings entertainment including the 9pm fireworks display.
View our Australia Day high-res download photo album here.
And the winners are:
A young woman with a passion for helping young entrepreneurs and business owners; a Bella Vista Farm volunteer; a group of residents raising funds for medical research; a cricket coach empowering young players on-and-off the field and a cricketing community celebrating 100-years of service were recognised in the Hills Shire Australia Day Awards.
Hills Shire Mayor, Councillor Michelle Byrne, said the awards recognised personal achievements that went beyond the ordinary.
“One of my greatest delights on Australia Day is to honour the commitment, achievements and generosity of our wonderful community members,” she said.
“These award recipients and finalists have made a positive contribution to the lives of others, without asking for anything in return.
“Their work helps make us be mindful of what a great region we live in, and of the generous spirit amongst our residents.
“On behalf of the people of The Hills Shire, I say thank you and congratulations to each and every one of our finalists in the 2019 Hills Shire Australian Day Awards,” Cr Byrne said.
This year’s Australia Day Award winners were:
Citizen of the Year - joint (25 – 65 years of age)
1. Karen O’Neill from Riding for the Disabled (RDA) - Tall Timbers. Karen started volunteering at RDA in 1982 assisting Saturday group riding classes. Over 36 years, she worked her way up to become a senior coach, an assessor for RDA (NSW) and was honorary President for the Tall Timbers Committee for more than 10 years.
Karen is involved in organising and assisting fundraising events and working bees and is an innovative thinker finding ways to improve the service and property for riders, volunteers and staff. This has included introducing music, games and other programs.
2. Steve Wickman - Hills Barbarians Cricket Club. Steve has played with the club since he was 15-years-old and is an integral part of the Club’s A grade team. He coached junior cricket for 28 years, was Club President for 15 years and has been the Club’s Modified Programs Co-ordinator since its inception 20-years ago.
For the past 28 years Steve has helped young cricketers to find their footing on-and-off the field. He is an advocate of teaching life skills through sport and teamwork, including leadership, communication, confidence and sportsmanship. Steve is a recipient of the Sydney Thunder HomeWorld Community Hero Award.
Community Group of the Year
1. Baulkham Hills Cricket Club: During the 2018/19 cricket season, the club celebrated its 100th anniversary. It is one of the largest clubs in the Parramatta District Cricket Association with more than 200 registered juniors and 130 seniors.
2. Children’s Medical Research Institute Hills Fundraising Committee. For the past 12 months this group of 14 women volunteered their time to raise more than $100,000 for vital medical research. They organised a barefoot bowls family day, a Spring Luncheon and their biggest event, a Mothers Luncheon, which attracted hundreds of people.
Young Citizen of the Year (24 and under).
Hannah Stack. Hannah has proactively assisted and led the Sydney Hills Business Chamber’s new YoHu (Young and Hungry) initiative. YoHu is aimed at 17-30-year-olds, assisting, nurturing and developing their progress from school to tertiary education, employment and on to becoming business entrepreneurs.
Hannah has shown exceptional drive, leadership and passion as a volunteer to launch the initiative. Her work assisted the Sydney Hills Business Chamber win a Western Sydney Chamber 2018 award.
Senior Citizen of the Year (over 65 years)
Graham Rawstron. Graham has been President of the Friends of Bella Vista Farm Park since August 2015. He is passionate about the enhancement of Bella Vista Farm, considered to be the ‘Jewel’ of The Hills Shire.
Graham has gained the respect and admiration of all the members of the Friends Committee and is constantly on hand at monthly Open Days and various special events. He is a member of the Bella Vista Farm Bushcare Group and current Secretary of the Norwest Community Association.
View our Australia Day high-res photo album here.