OPINION Support the town that supports you, right? It is no use whinging about how community events have fallen by the wayside without the people to participate and support them in the first place.

More importantly, perhaps, is having the people power – many of them volunteers – to run events as well.

One of the best opportunities to take part in such activities is on Australia Day, which by all accounts this year, was a great celebration of our national day.

From the awards ceremony to the sports banter, the community barbecues and special guests – many had nothing but praise for the way our Gunnedah community threw its support behind Australia Day.

This publication was also in the mix – not only documenting the achievements of its citizens but also sending the challenge to would-be contenders in the 2024 Australia Day Cake-Off competition.

What started as bit of fun – some friendly, in-house rivalry at the Gunnedah Times – turned out quite the success for local scribe, Jen Mitchell. The Gunnedah Times journalist placed second in the ‘best patty cake’ category with her vanilla cup cake with Australian native flower-themed icing.

It was in a showdown with this writer’s coconut and sultana Australiana-themed patty cake – a first-up attempt also. But alas, Jen’s creative creation was the clear winner and deservedly so.

We’ve been told the annual baking competition – the first time run by the CWA was a great success with a good number of entries across the board but particularly in the junior categories.

The Australia Day sport events could always use a boost in participation but there was enough there to keep it competitive.

Here’s hoping for more involvement in the coming years.

Unofficial sports day co-ordinator John Hickey has already received some encouraging feedback for his idea to refloat Gunnedah’s raft and craft race.

Despite the trepidation of the change in format for Gunnedah’s award ceremony, the community backed it all the way – BYO and all. The hall was full of people, rich with a real feeling of pride in contemporary Australia and what it means to be Australian in 2024.

Our community leaders spoke about why they enjoy living in the Gunnedah community and what Australia Day significance holds for them – be it the lifestyle, the people, the landscape, all of the above and more.

As in the words of Gunnedah’s 2024 Citizen of the Year Marie Hobson: “I have travelled extensively overseas and around Australia and I can’t think of a reason to live anywhere else”.

Well done Gunnedah, you, the people, raised the flag for an important part of the Australian calendar with promise of more to follow in the coming years.

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