Ararat Rural City Council Australia Day Award winners announced

Posted Wednesday 23 January, 05:03pm

Ararat’s Judy Wohlers, the Willaura Healthcare Outdoor Market and the Ararat Ladies’ Social Bike Group have been commended for their outstanding community contributions after being named Ararat Rural City Council’s Australia Day Award winners for 2019.

Mrs Wohlers is one of the founding members of the Ararat Ladies’ Social Bike Group, and has been named Ararat Ambassador 2019 after more than 40 years’ voluntary work with the group.

The Ararat Ladies’ Social Bike Group has been named Healthy Living Award winners, and the Community Spirit Award has been given to the Willaura Healthcare Auxiliary, which runs the popular Willaura Healthcare Outdoor Market in March each year.

Ararat Rural City Council Mayor Cr Peter Beales said the three winners would be presented their awards at a ceremony on Australia Day, Saturday 26 January, at Alexandra Oval Community Centre.

“The three winners epitomise the spirit of Ararat Rural City Council’s Australia Day Awards, and I am so pleased they were nominated,” Cr Beales said.

“The Australia Day Awards are a wonderful way for the community to nominate people and groups in their own community who give tirelessly and want to better life for the people of our shire. The Council is delighted to present awards to these three very worthy winners.”

Cr Beales invited the public to attend the presentation ceremony from 11am to 2pm, which would also include a citizenship ceremony for eight people. A free barbecue lunch cooked by the Ararat Lions Club would begin at 12pm with the Ararat Rural City Band performing at 12.45pm and official proceedings kicking off at 1pm. Australia Day Ambassador Dominic Barbuto will speak followed by the awards presentation and citizenship ceremony.

Other Council-run Australia Day activities this Saturday include a Garden Party in Alexandra Gardens, including activities for the whole family such as music, fairy floss, jumping castle and free entry to the Ararat Olympic Outdoor Pool, from 1pm to 7pm.

There will also be pool parties held at the Willaura and Lake Bolac outdoor pools from 1pm to 6pm. This will include free entry to both pools, music and a free barbecue in the afternoon.


Information about Ararat Rural City Council’s Australia Day Award winners follows.


Judy Wohlers

Australia Day Ambassador

Mrs Wohlers started the Ararat Ladies’ Social Bike Group with several other founding members in 1978, and has spent the past 40 years inspiring and supporting local women to stay physically active and socially connected.

Mrs Wohlers’ nominator says she is the backbone of the group. At the start of every term she provides members with a road rules refresher, and ensures all members of the group ride safely with gear such as safety vests, helmets and uniforms.

She has also been integral in ensuring the group supports wider community activities – they help set up venues for the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Ball and the WWW Dinner each year, and provide support to other local charities and organisations such as The Red Cross, East Grampians Health Service and BlazeAid.

Mrs Wohlers and the group are also regular supporters of the local breast cancer support network and pink ribbon morning tea, and the group also supports Landcare among other organisations.

Our Australia Day Ambassador 2019 encourages any female to join the Ararat Ladies’ Bike Group, ensuring there is an outlet for local women to stay active and social. Some of the group members are aged in their eighties and are still out pedalling every week – rain, hail, snow or shine – all thanks to Mrs Wohlers.


Willaura Healthcare Auxiliary – Willaura Healthcare Outdoor Market

Community Spirit Award

The 14-member Willaura Healthcare Auxiliary has raised more than $70,000 for the town’s hospital through the Willaura Healthcare Outdoor Market, which began in 2005. Over the past 14 years, the auxiliary has built the annual market into a huge event that attracts around 1500 people and 50 stall holders from across the state.

The money raised has gone towards improving the lives of residents in Willaura’s Parkland House Hostel and patients in the hospital. Items purchased over the years have included furniture, televisions, DVD players, wheelchairs and nursing equipment, and the funds have also paid for a refurbishment of the hospital family room and entertainment and excursions for residents. It has also contributed $20,000 towards the hostel’s redevelopment.

The market brings the Willaura and district community together with more than 60 residents volunteering with set up and pack down, and the Auxiliary ensures there are plenty of opportunities for other community groups to get involved, whether it’s the local Lions and Rotary clubs, district schools or musicians and entertainers.

The market provides an extremely valuable social and cultural event for district residents and has built a reputation for being high quality with a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere. Low-cost food outlets, a gold coin donation entry price, and free entertainment ensures it provides an affordable day out for everyone in the community.

The Auxiliary strives to maintain the market’s high standing in the market community so it continues to attract boutique stall holders, and it looks after its volunteers to avoid “volunteer burnout”.


Ararat Ladies’ Social Bike Group

Inspiring Healthy Living Award

The Ararat Ladies’ Social Bike Group started in 1978 and is still going strong more than 40 years later. The group has five original founding members and almost 30 active current members who meet weekly and pedal 14km on average every week.

The group provides a wonderful social connection with members also providing support to each other during times of illness, bereavement and happy life events.

According to their nominator, the group provides local women with a supportive and encouraging environment in which to stay physically fit and socially connected. The group has a culture of supporting any local organisation who asks for or needs help, and has supported groups including The Red Cross, East Grampians Health Services’ Aged Care Auxiliary, BlazeAid, Landcare, the Blue Ribbon Police Foundation and children’s Christmas appeals.

Any female is welcome to join the group, which meets in the same spot every week, cycling while wearing their safety gear and uniform, promoting the fact they are an active group. The women always finish their rides with morning tea at the home of the person who organised the route for the day, capping off their rides with a lovely social activity.