Wattle Range features in the 2014 Regional Awards with Millicent Museum and Football Club and the Penola Coonarwarra Arts Festival in the finalist line up. A full list of the finalists follows:-
Arts Finalist – JoJo Spook
JoJo Spook is an Artist, teacher, and community worker. She has been
acknowledged for her contribution to the Arts in various forms, including project
work in remote communities, coordination of art exhibitions and her growing
popularity as a collectable artist. Utilising a variety of mediums including: metal
fabricated large scale sculptures, stone carving, jewellery making, contemporary
painting and textiles, JoJo’s produce a body of work for a solo show every year.
Arts Finalist – Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra
The Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra is a community ensemble serving the
South East of South Australia. Musicians from the region volunteer their services to
play under a professional conductor who is contracted for the annual season.
This season it is comprised of 70 professional and amateur musicians, with the aim
to maintain a tradition of orchestral music within the local community. With a
broad repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary it is aweing audiences
whenever they play!
2014 Regional Awards Finalists – Limestone Coast
Arts Finalist – MJ Dance Studio
MJ Dance Studio has developed into a key player on the local performing arts
landscape over the past 26 years, offering classes across a broad range of dance
spectrums for students aged from three years up. It continues to establish a strong
reputation through the network of top teachers and choreographers it works with,
resulting in its students competing and performing locally, nationally and
It is most proud of being one of the few regional dance schools to compete at the
National Showcase – a prestigious national dance competition. In 2014, 46 dancers
competed, winning many first placings, the overall winner title for the junior small
group, and taking out Dancer of the Year!
Small Business Finalist – Casey Sharpe Constructions
Casey Sharpe Constructions is a proud innovative building construction business
based in Kingston. After buying into the Hotondo Homes franchise seven years
ago, they now build around 10 homes a year. They have a superb reputation for
quality and customer satisfaction and were rewarded at the 2014 Housing Industry
Association – CSR National Housing Awards. The business plays a huge role in its
contribution to the community with 95% of their products and materials
purchased or manufactured in the Limestone Coast.
2014 Regional Awards Finalists – Limestone Coast
Small Business Finalist – PMD Race Products
PMD Race Products brings together an interest in both Motorsport and Electronics,
resulting in the development of Australian designed and manufactured electronic
products being introduced into the Australian motorsport market, aimed at
providing reliable and value for money equipment for all levels of motorsport –
including their own brand of race apparel.
In addition they have developed a communication system for use on motorbikes
for the Australian Federal Police in Canberra, an Enduro Pro intercom system being
sold to New Zealand and the USA, and have designed a complete race track
lighting system for the local motorcycle club.
Small Business Finalist – Sails Restaurant/Adam Brooks Catering
Sails Restaurant and Adam Brooks Catering provide a quality dining experience.
Whether it be for an intimate dinner for two, or a wedding celebration for 150,
there is no job too big or small. Their seasonal menus are created with the highest
quality products sourced from the Limestone Coast and South Australia. Their
dedication to the training and development of young adults will ensure the
hospitality industry will continue to grow with confidence. The team participate in
local community events such as the Robe Boat Show and Cape Jaffa Food and
Wine Festival, which are significant tourism events paramount to local economic
Large Business Finalist – Beachport Liquid Minerals
Beachport Liquid Minerals is a 100% family owned Australian company that
manufacture a range of liquid livestock supplements aimed at improving overall
animal health and addressing key potential risks, such as improving stress levels of
animals during transportation. Their products are distributed throughout
Australia, with products also currently being trialled overseas with the aim to lead
to international sales. This simple, safe and cost effective supplementation system
is unique to anything else on the market!
Large Business Finalist – Blue Lake Milling
Operating from Bordertown, Blue Lake Milling has developed a strong and
reputable market presence; both domestically and internationally, with its range of
oat and cereal based foods and food ingredients, manufactured from the highest
quality Australian standard and organic grains.
More than 20 years of experience in grain purchasing, good food manufacturing
practices and international trade has set a strong backbone for significant recent
increases in sales to markets throughout the Asia Pacific Rim and beyond.
Blue Lake Milling’s mission and commitment to the future is to strive to be an
invaluable Australian supplier – manufacturing quality cereal based food for people
around the world!
Large Business Finalist – Metro Bakery & Café
Commencing in 2009, Metro Bakery & Cafe derived its name from the Greek word
Metrio, meaning ‘in the middle’ or ‘meeting place’. It is this idea of community that
drives the vision for Metro. Everything is baked on premise, offering an extensive
range of breads, cakes and French pastries alongside breakfast, lunch and dinner.
They have recently undergone two expansions and successfully applied for a liquor
license, increasing the efficiency of their bakery, their seating capacity, their
evening trade and allowing them to break into the functions market. Metro Bakery
& Cafe brings something different and unique to the community – a touch of how it
used to be with traditional baking methods and old-fashioned hospitality.
Community Group Finalist – ac.care Limestone Coast
ac.care was created in 1986 in Mount Gambier because there was no teenage
foster care service. This meant teenagers had to be cared for away from their
community. Today, their community work extends across the Limestone Coast.
Services include: foster carer recruitment and support, homelessness, Aboriginal
services, community centres, family and children’s services, a Family Relationship
Centre, low-income housing, adult community education, and financial
counselling. They have raised over $100,000 through donations and administer
$13 million of government and philanthropic grants.
Community Group Finalist – Keith and Tintinara District Show Society – Diesel and
The Keith and Tintinara District Show Society has been showcasing the area’s
primary production, arts, crafts and hobbies since the 1920s. The show is not just
about friendly competition, but it provides an opportunity for townspeople and
the wider community to come together. The Keith Diesel and Dirt Derby is an
action packed event with headers, utes, mowers, tractors and motorbikes – all
things diesel and loud!
It is a family day that appeals to visitors and competitors, locally and interstate.
Success is already guaranteed with the support of the Australian Tractor Pulling
Championships and continued innovation in new events. Over 6,000 people
attended this year’s event and it will continue to be a major draw-card and
economic boost to the South East region.
Community Group Finalist – Penola Festival Association
The Penola Festival Association is a committee made up of 18 volunteers who
manage the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival. Held annually in May it is one of
South Australia’s leading regional art festivals and is the only event of its type in
the region – embracing the concept of community, accessibility and inclusivity.
Self funded, the Association creates a program that is accessible and caters to all
ages and interests, with over half of the program available at no cost to audiences.
Of the 80 events held, 24 were organised by the Association whilst the remaining
56 were community owned, organised and run underneath the Festival umbrella.
A true bringing together of community, business individuals and schools!
2014 Regional Awards Finalists – Limestone Coast
Community Individual Finalist – Debra Mackey
Debra Mackey is volunteer Ambulance Officer, trainer with the Robe Football team,
Secretary for the Robe Tourism Association and Executive for the marketing subcommittee.
She’s also passionate about dogs and organises monthly positive
training sessions and daily walking groups. On top of all of this, Debra’s a wife,
mother and owner of a profitable business in Robe. Debra feels that as the Robe
community supported her family for five generations and during her childhood,
that as an adult she should give back as much as she can. In the next 12 months
Debra will continue to develop her skills with the ambulance service, learn more
about football as well as about marketing and event management to keep
promoting Robe in the tourism market.
Community Individual Finalist – Jennie Matthews
Jennie has been one of the region’s most energetic and innovative musicians and
arts administrators for nearly 20 years. Her involvement in community music
initiatives includes contributions to the Mount Gambier City and Concert Bands
and the Limestone Coast Tattoo. She also founded String Beans and the Limestone
Coast Symphony Orchestra. Jennie’s involvement in a wide range of community
music groups has created a sense of common purpose across formerly separate
groups. There are now formal links between such groups, which has facilitated the
emergence of events such as the Limestone Coast Tattoo as ‘showcase’
collaborations. Jennie plans to retire from her ‘day job’ at the end of the year in
order to devote more time to community music initiatives.
2014 Regional Awards Finalists – Limestone Coast
Community Individual Finalist – Stanley Thomson
Stanley Thomson is a broadcaster for the ABC Southeast’s morning current affairs
program and an active community member. His professional work and community
involvement are intertwined and compliment each other. He recently completed a
12 year term as a Trustee with Country Arts SA, is a Life Member of the Southern
Heritage Singers, Board Member of the Riddoch Art Gallery, Member of the thinktank
committee on the fate of the Old Hospital Site in Mount Gambier, Patron of
the Anxiety Disorders of the South East, and professional advisor to the Breast
Cancer Committee. It doesn’t stop there, Stanley also provides media advice to
various community based organisations and festivals. All of Stanley’s community
work is voluntary and he considers himself fortunate to have a profession that’s at
the very core of community communication and consultation.
Education Finalist – Mount Gambier Independent Learning Centre
The Independent learning Centre at Mount Gambier focus on providing flexible
support to keep young people aged 16 – 21 engaged in schooling or on a learning
pathway. There have been 168 graduates of the Centre since it opened in 2007.
These students were completely disengaged from education for various reasons
but have since completed their SACE and have continued with further studies at
University and TAFE. Student engagement is enhanced through innovative and
enterprising learning activities including a Garden Project and giving students the
opportunity to operate the Reidy Park Primary School Canteen on Fridays. By
participating in such projects, student’s gain invaluable hands on experience in the
areas of literacy and numeracy whilst equipping students for entry into the work
Education Finalist – Naracoorte Independent Learning Centre
The Naracoorte Independent Learning Centre has uniquely developed innovative
and wide-ranging programs for disengaged youth that take into account their
specific student cohort and their interests. It also incorporates the need to equip
these students with the skills required to transition smoothly into the workforce
and become valuable members of the local community. The flexibility of their
timetable allows students to successfully undertake part-time work or school
based apprenticeships as well as achieve their SACE. Recognised as the best
Independent Learning Centre in the Southern region of South Australia, they are a
role model for other schools to follow.
Education Finalist – Vanita Hutchinson
Vanita Hutchinson is the Technology and Arts Coordinator at Naracoorte High
School. She set herself a challenge to coordinate the first whole school musical
production in over a decade. This production ran as an extra curricula activity
requiring seven months of lunchtime practices and the dedication of 44 students
from all year levels. Overseen by three staff and one volunteer the project’s main
success, other than a well performed musical, was the establishment of student
relationships and peer mentoring throughout the different year levels. Vanita was
the regional winner of the South Australian Public Teaching Awards last year and
has again been nominated for the Award this year.
Health Finalist – Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health
Through funding from Health Workforce Australia, and collaborating with Country
Health SA, Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health has
effectively increased access to simulation education and training for health
professionals and students in regional South Australia and southwest Victoria.
Their aim is to support rural communities and the local health workforce by
providing a service that enables health professionals and students to practice, and
ultimately become, more confident and competent in their delivery of clinical skills
and patient care in the workplace. The community benefits through better patient
care and hopefully, the retention of more health professionals in the local
Health Finalist – BodyTune Healthcare
BodyTune Health Care is dedicated to naturally treating stress for physical,
emotional, mental and spiritual well being and uses techniques to keep the brain
and body system ‘switched on’ for living, learning and in business. The brain/body
system is ‘switched on’ with Educational Kinesiology – a non-invasive yet powerful
method using movement and goal setting techniques, enabling the client to
obtain a clear sense of self and feel calm and balanced. The business offers a
service with flexible times and rates as well as products for good health including
certified organic and organic products, immune system support and pure essential
Health Finalist – Therapy for Life
Therapy for Life is a physiotherapy clinic, taking a more diverse approach to
providing services to people of Mount Gambier, Millicent and surrounding areas.
In the past 12 months they have set up a Chronic Pain Group aimed at developing
peer relationships and support for sufferers, and have expanded their services to
community sporting events providing physiotherapy and free taping services.
They focus on fulfilling their practice ideals of leadership, holistic patient centered
and evidence based care, and are also helping to improve the healthcare
education level across the country with active input into national level committees.
Innovation Finalist – Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural
Established in 2001, Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health
is a program that combines major academic institutions, health services, industry
groups and communities to promote greater health in the Greater Green Triangle
region, which covers south east South Australia and south west Victoria. They have
taken a unique and innovative approach by distributing simulation-based
education and training to health professional staff and students. Through this, they
have significantly increased access to education and training in the region with
attendees at workshops far exceeding expectations. Employing clinical educators
on the project, who are already working in rural health services, has enabled
training to be delivered by those with an understanding and experience of local
Innovation Finalist – Hello Friday
Hello Friday is a vibrant creative agency run by Simone Kain of Penola and Ben
Hood of Mount Gambier, who assist businesses to turn their ideas into powerful
brands. They have written, illustrated, designed and produced Australia’s first
children’s farming character and App, George the Farmer, which was ranked as the
number one book on the Australian iTunes store. The App has received rave
reviews and has been welcomed by the agricultural industry as a creative
educational tool for children aged 1-8. The App had sales not only nationally, but in
the US, UK, Ireland, Norway and New Zealand. They are currently writing,
illustrating and designing the second story, which will be released for purchase in
November. Another George the Farmer App, featuring six mini-games is also
planned on being released in January.
Innovation Finalist – Naracoorte Regional Livestock Exchange
The Naracoorte Regional Livestock Exchange has a strong focus on safety, animal
welfare and environmental sustainability. During the past two years they have
invested heavily and installed a roof over the cattle selling pens, a wastewater
treatment plant and a state of the art weighbridge and leadup yards. The
wastewater treatment plant is the only one installed at a livestock exchange in
Australia. Over the past 12 months, among other things, they have been able to
turn their waste products into reusable resources, and reduce their water usage
through the reuse of storm water captured on the new roof. Their innovations have
attracted the interest of other agencies that manage livestock exchanges, not only
for their sustainability practices but also for the increased safety to livestock and
Regional Food Finalist – Ananda Organic
Ananda Organic is a boutique organic farm that supplies quality produce for the
fine food market. Since starting in 2011 the farm has become recognised for three
garlic varieties produced.
The combination of high quality garlic and an effective online campaign has
generated positive media coverage and support from prominent chefs. Ananda
Organic garlic is supplied to chefs such as Simon Bryant, Simon Bowen from Pipers
of Penola and Kirby Shearing from Soul Projects.
Ananda Organic produce is sold at Mount Gambier Farmers Market and the
Naracoorte market and supplies local fruit and vegetable stores and supermarkets.
However, most sales are generated through online sales which has seen an 80%
Regional Food Finalist – Humbugz Honey
Humbugz Honey is a family owned and operated producer of honey and beeswax
products. Since 2005 the business has grown into a state-wide distributor and
international exporter. Humbugz Honey believes in minimal human intervention of
their products to ensure a unique, quality product. The products also include milk
and dark chocolate honey bars and honey comb rounds.
Due to the popularity of their products, measures to expand the business have
been implemented. This includes increasing production to supply for larger
contracts. Overseas trips have generated contracts in the Hong Kong and Dubai
markets. Humbugz Honey has been recognised as one of the best selling products
in Dubai’s high market retailer Spinney’s.
Regional Food Finalist – Mahalia Coffee
Mahalia Coffee is an epicurean roasting house specialising in the art of profile
roasting. Dedicated to bringing quality, refinement and the exotic passion of
faraway coffee lands to the lively world of coffee connoisseurs.
Their quality has been recognised, having won 27 awards at prestigious coffee
shows such as the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, Hobart Fine Food Awards and the
Golden Bean Awards. Headquartered in Robe and sold in 200 outlets Australiawide,
Mahalia Coffee has proven that a successful national coffee business can be
Regional Wine Finalist – Bowen Estate
Bowen Estate Wines has an outstanding reputation for producing a quintessential
range of wines from their estate grown Coonawarra vineyards consisting of an
elegant Shiraz, an archetypical Cabernet Sauvignon and a petite volume of
For over 40 years the winemaking family have maintained a traditional business
ethos as Bowen Estate epitomises tradition and integrity. Their marketing strategy
focuses on attending trade tastings and personally promoting their wines. The
strategy has been successful, as Bowen Estate has seen growth in both domestic
and international markets over the past 12 months, with an increase of 25% in
South Australia alone.
Bowen Estate has received a variety of awards for its viticulture and winemaking.
The most recent in 2014 with their Cabernet Sauvignon being listed on the
prestigious Langton’s Classification VI as an ‘Excellent’ wine.
Regional Wine Finalist – Leconfield Wines
Leconfield Wines is a James Halliday 5 star rated winery that have been producing
wines that promote the unique qualities of Coonawarra since 1974. The winery is
renowned for its Leconfield Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, which regularly
receives 95 plus points. The winery focuses on bringing out the vibrant fruit
flavours of its grapes, showcasing the characteristics of the region.
Employing local people in all facets of the winemaking and retail process,
Leaconfield Wines advocates tourism and wine production in the region.
Regional Wine Finalist – Majella Wines
Majella Wines is a family owned wine producer in the famed Coonawarra region of
the Limestone Coast. The winery was established in the early 90s and since then
has gained a reputation as one of Australia’s most awarded small wineries. Since
the release of the first vintage in 1992, Majella’s wines have gained critical
approval, winning well over 850 awards and medals at Australian and International
wine shows, together with 70 trophies for outstanding wines. Holding strong links
with their Australian distributors, exports to South East Asia and Canada are
expected to continue to rise.
Sport Finalist – Naracoorte Masters Games
Naracoorte hosted its second South Australian Masters Games championships in
2014, with 1,000 athletes, aged from 25-90 years, from around the State and
nationally, competing in 18 sports over four days.
Three different Committees, made up of 40 volunteers, met regularly over an 18
month period to coordinate the various aspects of the Games. The different sport
competitions harnessed the support of 250 local volunteers. This event highlights
the amazing community support required to host these amazing Gamers and the
valuable contribution made by volunteers.
Sport Finalist – Millicent Football Netball Club
Millicent Football Netball Club is passionately dedicated to promoting sport and
encouraging people to be active and socially involved. The club’s history spans 100
years of helping people of all ages enjoy the sport of Netball and Football.
To continue this, the club has invested in improving its facilities by developing
eight new tennis and netball courts, meeting rooms and change rooms.
The club also helps the delivery of the Millicent and District Gala Day. The sports
carnival helps raise funds, which are used to invest in improving facilities. They are
also dedicated to the performance of their teams through the Junior Development
Sport Finalist – Western Border Football League
Western Border Football League is the amalgamation of the Western District and
South East Football League with the addition of a Netball competition. After
restructuring, the League was challenged yet motivated for the continued
development of sport in the region.
This development includes the installation of video conferencing facilities for
tribunal hearings and off field training programs. By supplying iPads, member
clubs can post live score updates that can be accessed via mobile phones, an
initiative which has also assisted in marketing and data collection.
The 2014 season saw the expansion of the match day program with the addition of
U13s in the Football League. This makes for a busy Saturday with both Football and
Netball games played simultaneously.
Tourism Finalist – Brand’s Laira Coonawarra Cellar Door
Brand’s Laira Coonawarra Cellar Door is an established name in the Coonawarra
region. Today the winery is actively involved in promoting the region and giving
visitors an experience unique to the Limestone Coast. The Cellar Door is renowned
for their staff having an extensive knowledge and understanding of available
They have developed the consumer experience through investing in social media.
By being active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram followers are kept
up-to-date with the activities of the winery.
The region hosts a range of events, with this year including the inaugural
Winemakers Walk, an event initiated by Brand’s Laira. Cellar Door staff engaged
with local wineries to coordinate the event, which sold out and received extremely
Tourism Finalist – Millicent Living History Museum
Accredited in 1992, Millicent Museum, run purely by volunteers, has a mission to
bring South Australian history to life and preserve it for future generations and to
promote the attractions in the area.
Housing the largest collection of fully restored horse-drawn vehicles in South
Australia, it also features displays on the ‘Geltwood Shipwreck’ including: the ship’s
anchor, Aboriginal artefacts, an interactive display of the South East Drainage
Scheme, farm machinery in working order, dioramas of home life, a costume
collection and a fully equipped blacksmith shop and saddle room.
Tourism Finalist – Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival
Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival promotes and supports the art community in the
region. The festival prides itself on being inclusive and cost effective for both artists
and festivalgoers. From its inception as a literary luncheon to the largest regional
arts festival in South Australia, the event appeals to a wide audience.
The event is driven by key concepts such as community, accessibility and
inclusivity. The importance of community support ensures the festival is able to
showcase the arts from the region. While accessibility is important in providing free
and low cost events so the public can enjoy the festival. The inclusive spirit
includes partnering with local businesses, schools and community groups to
support the foundation of an arts festival that benefits the whole community.
Youth Finalist – Claudia Bailey
Claudia is an 18 year-old studying Law and Development Studies who has two jobs
and loves to volunteer. She currently works for World Vision and is a Vision Artist
Concert Volunteer – promoting World Vision’s child sponsorship program at
concerts. Claudia is also the School’s Mentor and is Executive Assistant to the CEO
of Soles4Souls Australia, which distributes shoes to children in Tanzania. She is an
active member of South Australian Youth Parliament and is passionate about
advocating for girls rights to an education in the developing world. Claudia’s
dedication has been recognised through winning three awards: a 2013 Regional
Award, the 2013/14 Young Citizen of the Year for Mount Gambier and the Bueti
Community Citizen Scholarship.
Leith Robson has been volunteering with the Country Fire Service (CFS) for 11 years
– almost half his life. Leith now holds the position of Senior Fire Fighter in the Mt
Gambier CFS Group Operation Brigade, and is also the equipment coordinator for
the Mt Gambier CFS group. This responsibility requires equipment, vehicles and
resources be maintained for eight brigades.
In the past 12 months Leith has attended over 70 calls ranging from road accidents,
and downed power lines to forest fires. He has also completed a CFS level 2
incident management course. This means Leith is qualified to coordinate the
logistics required in the incident of a large fire.
A full list of the winners will follow on wattlerangenow after the presentations.