I love the festive season. It’s a special time to catch up with friends, shop at local stores for treats, take the kids to carols and pageants and reunite with loved ones.
Most importantly, it provides us with a moment to pause and reflect on what we achieved this year, perhaps by taking a summer staycation here in Gunaikurnai, Monero and Bidawel country - our own beautiful backyard.
It’s also that time of year when, in the spirit of togetherness, we help someone who may be less fortunate than ourselves - the bereaved, those battling illness and those who may be lonely or vulnerable.
Looking back on 2022, I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of our community, notably our collective responses to the pandemic and wild weather. I thank those who work to protect, support and care for us - including those who will work through the festive period: doctors and nurses, emergency services staff, police and firefighters, care providers, public transport staff, and even our many Council staff.
There are also many achievements by Council that I am honoured to be a part of, including an almost $10 million investment in adventure tourism in Omeo; a revamp of Bairnsdale Airport; our work with Traditional Owners to improve the trail and Indigenous interpretation and cultural education on Raymond Island’s Koala Trail and Discovery Experience; new community halls, sporting facilities and streetscape upgrades in a bunch of towns, the swashbuckling fun pirate playground in Marlo and our ongoing campaign to protect and support both sustainable native forest harvesting and timber workers.
We welcomed 91 new citizens to our shire through Council-run ceremonies and recognised 117 hard-working volunteers as inductees on our new East Gippsland honour roll.
We can look forward to tourism getting a boost with the rollout of electric vehicle charging stations across the shire, the opening of Bullock Island Bridge in Lakes Entrance, and stages 1 and 2 of the impressive WORLD Sporting Precinct in Bairnsdale reaching completion.
On behalf of the Councillors and staff, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy and safe New Year.
Mayor Cr Mark Reeves, December 2022