18 January 2024

Special dinner to honour Weipa’s great achievers and new citizens

| Matt Nicholls
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WTA chairman Michael Rowland with Nicole Clegg at last year’s Australia Day awards dinner.

Weipa Town Authority chair Michael Rowland says there is no boycott against the Australia Day date in his community, despite the fact there will be no formal celebrations in Weipa on January 26.

Instead, the WTA will host a formal dinner on January 23 to celebrate its top citizens, as well as naturalise new Australians.

“We chose the formal option last year and it went really well,” Mr Rowland said.

“It was a great way to celebrate our achievers.

“Having that formal dinner on a public holiday is difficult because people want to do other things, especially when it is a long weekend.”

Over the years, the WTA has tried numerous events for Australia Day.

This year’s Weipa Australia Day Awards nominees.

A fun run followed by awards and games had mixed results at different venues.

“The weather can be hit and miss at this time of year and a lot of locals will go camping if there is a long weekend,” Mr Rowland said.

“I like the fact that we can put our nominated citizens of the year on a pedestal and make them feel special. We are lucky to have great nominees each year who contribute a lot to the community.”

The chair, who won’t seek re-election in March, said another highlight was overseeing the naturalisation of new citizens.

“I still remember the day I got citizenship,” said Mr Rowland, who was born in England.

“I remember being the tallest one at the Town Hall in Brisbane as a lot of the other new citizens were from Vietnam.”

Mr Rowland said he wanted to join the Army Reserve and couldn’t without citizenship.

“I think we forget sometimes that we are very lucky to live in Australia,” he said.

“You only have to turn on the news to see that things could be much worse.”

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