Heyfield residents’ admiration for community was unequivocally apparent at Thursday’s Australia Day celebrations; like a slap in the face or someone tipping a bucket of ice-cold water on you, you just couldn’t miss it.

Heyfield’s Daisy Johns (3) and Archie Domaille (12) with Maffra’s Hundson Johnston (13) and Oscar Johnston (10). Photos: Zoe Askew.

January 26 celebrations would not have been possible were it not for the Lions Club of Heyfield and Heyfield Australia Day committee.

Each year, the two groups work to create the event, bringing together and highlighting the outstanding achievements of people within their community.

Supporting, caring, giving, honouring, being together – this is what Australia Day means to the small town of Heyfield.

Brian and Cherril Marsh were sitting at one of the shaded picnic tables in Heyfield Apex Lions Park, the morning sun slowly rising behind them, golden light seeping through the cracks in the branches of the surrounding trees.

Heyfield’s Brian and Cherril Marsh at the 2023 Heyfield Australia Day Celebrations.

Mr and Mrs Marsh moved to Heyfield 30 years ago, escaping the growingly busy streets of Melbourne.

The decision to relocate came after visiting friends who had recently moved to Heyfield; the driving factor in their decision to stay, what has kept Mr and Mrs Marsh in Heyfield all these years, is the community.

“Shortly after moving here, we were in a car accident,” Mr Marsh said.

“A few days after the accident, we saw this car driving down our driveway; it was one of our neighbours. He had heard about the accident and had come over to give us the car to use; we had never met him before.”

Mr and Mrs Marsh shared their love for their town and the community within its boundaries, the joy they get out of walking down the street and knowing everyone’s name, whether it be Pam at the Heyfield IGA or back in the day, the local Heyfield Police Officer.

“It is such an amazing community here in Heyfield,” Mrs Marsh said.

“Everyone is so kind and so caring; we love it here. People are so quick to put their hands up to help when needed. Walking down the street, everyone says hi, and you know everyone’s name, even the local police. Heyfield really does have an amazing community.”

Heyfield’s Nikitta Mortimer-Keast (9) and Patsy Whitehead (9) show off their face painting at the Australia Day celebration.

The smell of bacon cooking on the barbecue wafted across the park, strips of pink flesh popping and cracking and sizzling on top of the hot iron grill as it darkens to that perfect delicious state between not crunchy and too crunchy.

Standing over the heat-radiating devices, turning strips of bacon and sausage, flipping half-gooey eggs, were members of the Heyfield Lions Club.

Withdrawing from the bustling outdoor kitchen, a loyal Lions Club of Heyfield member stepped back and watched on proudly as his brothers-in-arms dedicated their time to their beloved community.

“I have been involved with Heyfield’s Australia Day event for a long time,” he said.

He told how the long-running yearly celebration was not held around 11 years ago, following which he pledged to make sure there was an Australia Day event every year.

Heyfield’s Letti Ashley (3) getting her face painted at the Heyfield Australia Day Celebrations.

If anything, Thursday’s crowd at the Apex Lions Park was a bright red indicator of the importance of recognising and celebrating people within the Heyfield community.

Wellington Shire Councillor Carmel Ripper, initiated the awards ceremony, beginning with Acknowledgement of Country.

“It is an absolute pleasure to be here in Heyfield today, which I spent 15 years living here,” Cr Ripper said.

“First, I would like to pay respects to the traditional custodians of this land.

Wellington Shire Council Councillor Carmel Ripper opened the awards ceremony at the 2023 Heyfield Australia Day Celebrations.

“I would like to thank the Lions Club of Heyfield, who worked tirelessly to organise this event.

“I am proud to be part of such a strong community here in the Wellington Shire,” Cr Ripper added.

“Special thanks to everyday heroes, friends, neighbours and volunteers as we reflect on the freedoms and opportunities in this country.”

Lee Wojcinski was awarded Heyfield Citizen of the Year at the 2023 Australia Day Celebrations.

Lee Wojcinski was awarded Heyfield Citizen of the Year, and Maffra High School student, Maddison Winter, was awarded the 2023 Heyfield Junior Citizen of the Year.

Heyfield resident and Maffra High School student Maddison Winter was awarded the 2023 Heyfield Junior Citizen of the Year.
The Heyfield Wetlands Committee’s Wendy Rhodes, Barry Donahoe, Shiree O’Neil and Mike Kube with their 2023 Heyfield News Award.

The Heyfield Wetlands was named the Heyfield News Award recipient, Pam Darby from Heyfield IGA was awarded Heyfield Outstanding Customer Service Award, and Bill Adams was named Heyfield Local Hero.

Pam Darby from Heyfield IGA was awarded the 2023 Heyfield Outstanding Customer Service Award.
Bill Adams was named Heyfield Local Hero at the Australia Day Celebrations.