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Regional Showcase winners show grit, creativity and resilience

Regional Showcase

UPDATED | The 2019 Regional Showcase award winners have been announced, with a resilient Eyre Peninsula community taking out the inaugural Agricultural Town of the Year Award.

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The Regional Showcase is a long-running program that recognises the contribution of regional South Australia.

It’s a journalism-led program, taken on this year by Solstice Media following the closure of Brand SA.

Solstice Media editorial director David Washington said the winners, announced on Friday night at a celebration event at Maggie Beer’s Farm – The Eatery in the Barossa, show the creativity and community spirit of regional South Australians.

About 150 people from across South Australia attended the awards, which crowned the state’s first Agricultural Town of the Year and gave prizes in business, community and people’s choice categories (scroll down for the winners).

Part of the crowd gathered for the Regional Showcase awards on Friday. Photo: Ben Kelly/Solstice Media

Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said the Regional Showcase was an excellent way to highlight the incredible contribution our regions make to the economy.

“With more than 3500 votes for our People’s Choice Award, we’ve had a fantastic response to this year’s event,” he said. “The sheer range and diversity of these stories has shown the talent and drive that exists in our regional areas, and demonstrates how these communities are flourishing, often in the face of adversity.

“Our regions are integral to South Australia’s success, contributing about $25 billion to our economy annually with just 29 per cent of the state’s population.” 

Agricultural Town of the Year – Cleve

With a rich agricultural history, the Eyre Peninsula town of Cleve has remained tight-knit as it tackles a sustained drought. Through creative farming practices and initiatives to support wellbeing, the community continues to punch well above its weight as a driver of agricultural innovation.

The inaugural Agricultural Town of the Year Award, supported by Primary Industries and Regions SA, attracted entries from across the state, with a six-person independent judging panel assessing five finalists – Cleve, Langhorne Creek, Millicent, Renmark and Kapunda.

Whetstone said Cleve was “an outstanding example of a community working together to support the growth of agriculture and this win is a true testament to its resilience in tough times”.

“The eastern Eyre Peninsula has been one of the hardest hit areas by drought and the small community in Cleve has been proactive in running programs to keep spirits up and bolster physical and mental wellbeing, as well as continuing to drive on-farm innovation.

“Cleve scored highly with the judges in the categories of community resilience, agricultural leadership, collaboration and support for the promotion of agriculture in the town.”

Former Premier Rob Kerin, one of the independent judges and chair of Primary Producers SA, said Cleve stood out.

“It was clear to us that the support from the business community in Cleve has been tremendous,” he said. “Everyone’s got involved and done their bit, particularly with Cleve Area School’s training farm, Sim’s Farm. Keeping that standard of agricultural education in Cleve has been a real win for the Eyre Peninsula.”

Cleve Mayor Phil Cameron with Tim Whetstone after his town was crowned winner on Friday night. Photo: Ben Kelly/Solstice Media

Read more about Cleve here.

Community award winner – Yorke Peninsula Fat Farmers

What began as a trio of Yorke Peninsula farmers deciding to take better care of their physical and mental health, has grown into a movement across regional South Australia. The Fat Farmers initiative recognises that farming is a tough life and, for some, can be isolating. The cheekily named initiative is becoming an increasingly popular avenue for farmers to exercise together, socialise and connect.

Read more about the Fat Farmers here.

Honourable mention

The 50-year-old Tatiara Work Centre acts as a meeting point for the local community, fighting social isolation with homemade goods. Read more here.

Business award winner – Bowhill Engineering

For 40 years, Bowhill Engineering has been employing locals, growing from a small steel fabrication and construction business to a leading specialist in heavy and complex structural steel fabrication. From its home base on the banks of the Murray, It has worked on some of the state’s biggest infrastructure projects including the Darlington upgrade.

Read more about Bowhill Engineering here.

Honourable mention

Holla Fresh in Tantanoola is one of the Limestone Coast’s quiet achievers, with the hydroponic herb business going from strength to strength. Read more here.

People’s Choice award winner – Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary

Our story about Mylor’s rejuvenated Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary was the clear winner in voting from the public. The sanctuary, which closed in 2013 after a long and celebrated history, was reopened in 2018 by David Cobbold and Narelle MacPherson who saw an opportunity to “reinvigorate a national treasure”. Since then, it has attracted thousands of visitors to the Adelaide Hills to learn about local wildlife and the environment.

Read more about Warrawong’s new life here.

Honourable mentions

Port Augusta’s desert botanic garden flourishes with community spirit: the story of how volunteers have helped to make the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden a must-visit attraction.

The man who took on Mt Gambier’s tower in the clouds: the story of how travel agent Ben Deering has brought back to life the town’s closed Centenary Tower.

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