Australia Day Award Nominations

Published on 10 January 2024


As we gear up to celebrate Australia Day across the Upper Hunter Shire, it's time to recognise the exceptional individuals and groups nominated for this year's Australia Day awards.

Join us in Murrurundi, Scone, and Merriwa on the 26 January for a day filled with parades, ceremonies, BBQs, and pool parties, where we'll honour our nominees and revel in the community spirit. This day not only celebrates our national pride but also the local heroes who make the Upper Hunter Shire such a special place.

Aberdeen, Scone and Murrurundi Districts

Aberdeen U15s Rugby League Team

Under Captain Casey's leadership, the Aberdeen U15s Rugby League Team brought the Aberdeen Tigers U15s to life in 2023. Uniting boys aged 14 and 15, the team fostered camaraderie, fitness, and passion for rugby. Their dedication was rewarded when they became the Major Premiers in the Maitland/Newcastle Division 2 competition, a testament to their resilience and unity.

Andrew Driffield

Andrew Driffield's remarkable equestrian skills led him to earn a place on Australia's first Equestrian Team for the Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France in 2023. Securing two gold medals and the honour of flag bearer at the closing ceremony, he is a finalist for the NSW Sports awards and continues to excel, now qualifying for the Amateur Owner Rider Championships.

Ayaan Hussain

Ayaan Hussain took the local Murrurundi golf scene by storm, moving from novice to Nett Champion at the JNJG International Championships in just over a year. Representing his school at the PSSA and excelling in Junior golf events, his rapid ascent in the sport has been nothing short of remarkable.

Barbara Morgan

A pillar of the Murrurundi community since 1983, Barbara Morgan's contributions are manifold. From teaching and offering church services to leading local clubs and organising community events, her varied roles reflect her dedication and compassion for those around her.

Brian Harshman

Brian Harshman's 35 years of service with the Aberdeen Fire Brigade stands as his most significant contribution to the community. His involvement in local sports as a player, coach, and organiser showcases his commitment to fostering a spirited community in Aberdeen.

Campbell Munn

An exceptional athlete and student, Campbell Munn's 2023 was marked by sporting achievements and academic diligence. Balancing training with the Manly Sea Eagles and excelling in his HSC preliminary year, Campbell's leadership and sportsmanship are an inspiration to his peers.

Charlie Milton

Charlie Milton's leadership in 2023 led her team to success in rugby and earned her invitations to prestigious sports academies and teams. Her integrity and tenacity culminated in her election as School Captain for 2024, reflecting her significant impact at Scone High School.

Farmgate Support Program

Since April 2020, the Farmgate Support Program has provided a lifeline to the Upper Hunter Shire, offering flexible emotional support and practical assistance, reinforcing its role as an essential community resource. This program is proudly funded by the NSW State Government.

Gary Veale

Gary, a dedicated and long serving member of the Murrurundi community, has successfully revitalised the Murrurundi Bowling Club as its President, improving its financial standing and fostering local employment. He also tirelessly to organise various memorial events involving school students, playing a key role in the refurbishment of the Murrurundi Memorial Gates and memorial space for Vietnam Veterans.

Gilliane Avard-Ng

Gilliane Avard-Ng is a cornerstone of her community, holding various leadership roles while caring for her mother. Her tireless volunteer work across multiple organisations exemplifies her dedication to service and her role as a community role model.

Glen and Belinda Field

Glen and Belinda Field's contributions to Scone High School have created a nurturing and vibrant environment. Known for their dedication to the school grounds and canteen, their efforts during events like NAIDOC week and within the school's P&C association have left a lasting positive impact.

Glenda Stace

For two decades, Glenda Stace has been enhancing Murrurundi's wellbeing through yoga and tai chi, contributing to local culture, and leading the CWA. Her effervescent personality and commitment to community life have revitalised the local CWA and enriched village life.

Gregory Morris

Greg Morris has devoted over 25 years to enhancing the educational and community life in the Upper Hunter, leading initiatives from teaching mathematics to scouting, and engaging in community service that strengthens local cohesion.

Jan Kelaher

Jan Kelaher's compassion has been a beacon in Scone for over 20 years through her work at the Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre. Her support in times of need has helped many community members not only to cope but to thrive.

Jill Hamling

Jill Hamling has championed inclusivity through her café by employing and mentoring individuals with disabilities, fostering a welcoming community space, and advocating for accessibility and acceptance.

Jim Callinan

With 41 years in broadcasting, charity support, and promoting Scone's identity, Jim Callinan is a valued member of the community. His efforts in events and supporting charities like the Westpac Rescue Helicopter have made a substantial difference.

Justin Newling

Justin Newling, an agriculture teacher at Scone High, has made a profound impact through his teaching excellence and his humble yet far-reaching influence on communities across the state.

Kylie Arnold-Cross

Kylie Arnold-Cross's contributions to her community, through her roles in the hotel, school, and sports clubs, demonstrate her unwavering dedication and willingness to support others.

Luc Bates

Luc Bates's 2023 achievements span from academic scholarships to sports representation and community engagement, especially in organising NAIDOC week celebrations, showcasing his leadership and commitment to his community.

Margaret Wicks

Margaret Wicks is the force behind Scone parkrun, coordinating volunteers, promoting engagement, and ensuring smooth operation. Her passion for parkrun is a vital asset to the Scone community.

Murrurundi Golf Club Senior Pennants team

The Murrurundi Golf Club Senior Pennants Team, led by Captain David Bramley, triumphed in the Hunter River District Golf Association Senior Pennants, showcasing their skill and dedication.

Murrurundi Public School Relay team

The Murrurundi Public School Relay Team's remarkable journey from local carnivals to placing 7th at the State competition is a testament to their dedication and the support of their families.

Nicholas Wilson

Nicholas Wilson's quick thinking and local knowledge were crucial during the Scone Mountain fire crisis, saving livestock and aiding firefighters, proving his invaluable presence in emergency situations.

Peter and Gail Allen

Peter and Gail Allen's contributions to Scone, from Probus to Cancer Support, and their longstanding commitment to community service, make them cherished members of the local community.

Peter McGill

Peter McGill's leadership and organisational skills, particularly as Chairperson for Murrafest, have significantly benefited the town's welfare, tourism, and sustainability.

Phil McGuirk

Phil McGuirk's dedication to community service is evident in his involvement with the Horse Festival committee, art initiatives, and educational contributions, making a lasting impact on the community.


PUSH 48, led by Dayna Hynes and Jenn Sanders, is a dynamic fundraising team supporting local causes and school aged children in Murrurundi and surrounding communities. Over the past 5 years, they have collaborated with the Murrurundi Lions Club to fundraise for initiatives such as swimming lessons, a warmer pool cover and a safe Halloween night event.

Rae Bates

Auntie Rae Bates is a pillar of support and inspiration in Scone, advocating for Aboriginal education and instilling cultural pride among students, enhancing their prospects through her mentorship.

Renzy Perez

Renzy Perez's passion for the environment has earned him recognition at the Australian Tidy Towns Sustainability Awards, with his initiatives in environmental conservation making him a role model for climate consciousness.

Ruby Perrott

Ruby Perrott, an all-around achiever from St Mary's Primary School Scone, excels in sports and academics, demonstrating her capabilities as an excellent role model for her peers.

Samantha Smart

Samantha Smart's dedication to Positive Education has made her a driving force for wellbeing in the Upper Hunter, sharing her knowledge and positivity with the Scone High School community and beyond.

Scone Legacy Group

The Scone Legacy Group's care for war widows in Scone and Murrurundi through annual luncheons, birthday vouchers, and welfare checks showcases their dedication to those who have served our country.

Shane Roberts

Shane Roberts, Principal of Belltrees Public School, is an inspirational figure in sustainability and education. His commitment to community wellbeing is reflected in his varied educational and community initiatives.

Tamara Donnelly

Tamara Donnelly's continued support for Aberdeen Preschool, through volunteer work and community engagement, reflects her caring nature and commitment to the wellbeing of children and families.

Warren Bramley

Warren Bramley's dedication to maintaining the Rosedale Complex and supporting community activities underlines his unwavering support for the local shire.

Merriwa District

Sharee Witney

Sharee Witney is a linchpin of our community, highly regarded for her dedication and versatility. Beyond her role at the surgery, she extends care to residents in residential aged care and offers invaluable support to palliative care patients in their homes. Sharee also plays a crucial role in public health, administering Covid and flu vaccinations. Her extraordinary compassion and tireless community spirit are indispensable.

James Constable

James Constable's profound passion for history has led to his unofficial title as Merriwa's 'Fountain of Local Knowledge'. His extensive research into Merriwa's past, including parish records and oral histories, culminated in the publication of 'Merriwa, Thru The Lens, 1824 - 2023'. This book, released in time for Merriwa's bicentenary, preserves the community's heritage. James also volunteers across various local organisations, contributing to Merriwa's present and future as much as he honours its past.

Michelle Loft

Michelle Loft's journey from Cromer to Merriwa in 2017 marked the beginning of her significant contributions to the community. Establishing a home Nanny Service, she addressed a vital need, later expanding into larger premises due to demand. Now working at the local bank, Michelle continues to serve through various committees and supports her daughter’s sporting pursuits, all while championing mental health initiatives like The Men’s Table.

Barbara Campbell

Barbara Campbell, affectionately known as 'Auntie Barbara', is a stalwart in Merriwa's community. With over 25 years as a Sunday school teacher and a dedicated youth group leader, she has been a steadfast advocate for religious education. Her 59-year association with the CWA and a long career at Merriwa Hospital speak to her enduring commitment to service and care.

Courtney Gillis

Courtney Gillis is the embodiment of selfless dedication. Her leadership roles in the local pony club and tennis club highlight her readiness to step up wherever needed. Courtney's involvement in fundraising for causes like the McGrath Foundation and her pivotal work as secretary of the Festival of the Fleeces underscore her tireless community spirit.

Sheree Kelly

Sheree Kelly, a vital 'behind the scenes' force in Merriwa, brings events and initiatives to life with her commitment and innovation. She plays a crucial role in promoting the community and is always willing to give a hand and assist with anything that needs to happen.

Lilly Towell

Lilly Towell, a student at St Joseph’s Merriwa, exemplifies fairness and integrity. As vice-captain, she upholds the school’s values and excels in sports and academics. Lilly's community involvement, from Anzac Day commemorations to photography awards, paints the picture of a well-rounded and respected young leader.

Roy Lawler

At just 16, Roy Lawler's equine prowess has led to national recognition in multiple disciplines. His achievements span from the Sydney Royal Easter Show to the Australian National Championships, demonstrating not just skill, but true horsemanship and an inspiring dedication to his sport.

Mia Jacobs 

Mia Jacobs, a senior student at Merriwa Central School, exemplifies academic commitment. Balancing a school-based traineeship with Hunter New England Health, Mia manages her rigorous education with poise, serving as a mentor and leader within the school and in her work at the Merriwa Pool.

Lauren Redgate 

Lauren Redgate's equestrian talents have seen her excel at the NSW Pony Club State Camp and numerous championships. Her passion for horse riding, coupled with her role as a riding instructor in North Carolina, showcases her dedication and leadership in the equestrian community.

Dylan Keane 

Dylan Keane, a multi-talented athlete, excels in rugby league at community, regional, and state levels. His coaching and playing prowess is complemented by academic diligence and community service as a lifeguard, making him a well-rounded and inspiring young individual.

Anne-Maree Nairne, Fiona Cornish, and Brian Cornish

The dedication of Anne-Maree Nairne, Fiona Cornish, and Brian Cornish to Cassilis Public School and its community is unparalleled. Their selfless contributions range from garden maintenance to fundraising and advocacy, cementing their roles as true champions of their community.


Can-Assist Merriwa, under Marlene Rogers' leadership, provides vital support to residents living with cancer. Through community fundraising and partnerships, they ensure that rural cancer patients have access to the same opportunities as those in urban centres.

Regional Australia Bank Merriwa

The team at Regional Australia Bank Merriwa is lauded for exceptional service. Their personalised approach ensures the community's banking needs are met with efficiency and a smile, a welcome change from the impersonality of larger banks.

CJ & JM Vero & Sons 

CJ Vero & Sons has been a cornerstone of Merriwa, with Des and his family providing top-tier electrical services for generations. Their commitment to the community, especially to its vulnerable members, is deeply valued.

Golden Fleece Motor Inn

Pam, of the Golden Fleece Motor Inn, continues to drive local tourism by offering high-quality accommodation. Her efforts have had a ripple effect, benefiting the wider Merriwa retail community.

David and Julia Hardy

David and Julia Hardy are champions of regenerative farming, with their property ‘Buckaringa’ serving as a testament to their environmental stewardship. Their innovative agricultural practices have made a significant impact on the land and community.

School Achievement Awards

Jack Mobberley, Kirra Harris, Sophie Gillet, Ziggy Minter are commended for their academic excellence and dedication to their studies, demonstrating remarkable engagement and performance in their respective fields.

Creative Arts Excellence Awards

Jessica Bogaard, Josie Porter, Michael Dunley, Seth Ison have distinguished themselves in creative arts, receiving accolades for their dedication, artistic practice, and performances.