Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (19:45): On the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Nonning Outback Ball, staged by the Gawler Ranges Progress Association. The Gawler Ranges are a stunning range featuring spectacular granite outcrops, permanent waterholes, sometimes with waterfalls, and beautiful arid grazing plains stretching from Iron Knob to Wirrulla-a distance of about 300 kilometres on the north of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Opened up to the pastoral industry in the mid-1800s, it has for 160 years produced super-high-quality merino wool and sheep meats. Over the years, the local properties have provided hundreds of jobs and, while worker numbers are now fewer, the properties are operated at a high level of efficiency and contribute to the national economy. There are about 10 of these historic family based pastoral properties operating in the area and there is the wonderful Gawler Ranges National Park as well.
Outback communities love coming together and they love working together for a common cause and, as with many other outback communities, the common cause for the Gawler Ranges Progress Association is the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a service very near and dear to the heart of regional and outback Australia and one, incidentally, that I have used myself. Most years they run two events: the annual gymkhana and the outback ball. They have worked hard to provide a fabulous venue, assisted in the beginning in no small way by those great philanthropists of the outback, Ken and Val Lamb, formerly of Olympic Dam Transporters, in the construction of their facilities. An open, airy shed with a clean concrete floor, a veranda for music and dancing, and spacious, if basic, kitchen and bar facilities, it provides a great atmosphere.
Two hundred people attended Saturday night, dressed to the nines, and were very appreciative of the efforts of the organising committee of Ian and Kat Morris, Fiona Fagan, John McMahon, Angus McTaggart, Michelle and Phil Lord, Bill and Sarah Filmer, the wonderfully enthusiastic Barb Woolford, Anthony and Deb Burge and Jae Ellis. They presented a beautifully decorated venue and entertainment with a terrific program. And they are not without helpers, but more of that in a minute
On Saturday night, President Ian Morris presented the RFDS with a cheque for $12,000, being the proceeds of last year’s gymkhana and ball, and the news gets even better: $13,000 was raised from the ball on Saturday night, with $8000 being raised in a charity auction and $3,000 from the yabby race. How about that! Watch out for the Melbourne Cup, I would suggest! For the record, the winning yabby, named by its temporary owners, was ‘Red Dirt and Rangers’. I think there were few redheads on that table. As an indication of the intent of the attending crowd, they donated their $950 winnings back to the Flying Doctor. Entertainment was provided by Adelaide band Keep the Change and there was a fabulous dinner by Lisa McIntosh and Amy Marshall from the Epicurean Tuckerbox, based on Gum Creek Station in the equally fabulous Flinders Ranges.
But I will return to some of the helpers-and I think this is an interesting part of the story. I come from Kimba, about 80 kilometres to the south in farming lands. When I was a young man, the Gawler Ranges and Kimba communities were quite separate. We knew each other but we really did not come into regular contact. However, as the two communities have shrunk and mobility has increased, we have reached out for each other and embraced in warm and vigorous friendship-first with a couple of young blokes coming down to play football but then increasingly to access services like the school and other sporting clubs.
It has been very rewarding for both communities and has led to workers like Pedro and Jennifer Martin, Sid and Cheryl Larwood and Bert and Barb Woolford being great workers for the ball, the gymkhana or both. And there are other great supporters like Gadj and Meagan Lienert from Lienert Engineering in Kimba, who not only were on hand to help with the construction of the new extension to the kitchen area but also donated over $4,000 worth of goods for the auction. There are many others like Yenning Contractors and the fabulous support from Johnny McMahon Earthmoving. There are too many to mention and I apologise for those I have missed. But let me tell you: this is a very special relationship between the Kimba and Gawler Ranges communities. Well done them-and, for the Flying Doctor, it’s a marriage made in heaven.