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Welcome to our Club!

Service Above Self

We meet Wednesdays at 6:30 PM
Creekside Hotel
4 Scott Street
Warracknabeal, VIC  3393
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Home Page Stories
What’s been happening at our club?
Besides having some very interesting guest speakers recently, Rotarians have been out and about … helping at the Warrack Eagles Family Day, the WPS Gala Night  and selling raffle tickets for their big fundraiser. Two cars are on the prize list, so see a Rotarian to buy your ticket!
We also inducted Tim Hewitt as our newest Rotarian. Tim is a great community man and we look forward to Tim’s ideas, friendship and  involvement in our programs.
What’s Coming Up?
As the year draws to a close, our final activities have been planned.
Delicious ANZAC biscuits and Yo yos for sale.
Our local German Exchange student, Simon Ossing, spend hours recently with Rotarians and Rotaractors cooking biscuits ready to sell to the community. These delicious biscuits will be sold at the secondary college, at basketball on Friday nights and at Rotary meetings. Funds from sales will go towards the Rotary Mental Health program, Lift The Lid.
Wednesday 27th November
Our guest speaker on Wednesday will be Rotarian Megan Watts. One of our newest and youngest Rotarians, Megan has already embraced some significant opportunities available to Rotarians … last year she visited Cambodia to view Rotary aid programs there and this year Megan joined a group of Rotarians and friends from our district and visited Canada on a Friendship Exchange. A perfect way to have a holiday, discovering new places and being hosted by locals.
Wednesday 4th December
WSC teacher, Peter Loy, will be joining us to talk about the college’s recent involvement in The Energy Breakthrough event. This fabulous team event is held annually in Maryborough for schools throughout Victoria, and several from our region have been taking part for several years.
Friday 6th December- AUSTRALIA DAY nominations due
You may have seen the ads in the Herald and brochures around town asking for community members to nominate someone for Australia Day awards.  The Rotary Club organizes the Warracknabeal and district awards while the shire do the Yarriambiack Shire awards. They are separate awards but we encourage you to send nominations to both. Please consider putting forward a nomination.
If you would like to join us for any event, you will always be welcomed. We get together generally on a Wednesday night at The Creekside for a meal at 6pm followed by an interesting program. Please contact Jean Wise (0487 159 242) if you’d like to come.
There was an explosion of colour and flowers at the 2019 Warracknabeal Show. Over 10,000 paper flowers were made by community members and organisations to decorate the entire surface of the Young Farmer's Pavilion. It looked spectacular.
Rotarians and Rotaractors joined the fun and created a display of interlocking floral cogs, represent the close relationship between our clubs.  
Another highlight of the day was the first prize won by German Exchange Student, Simon Ossing, in the men's cake baking competition. It looked delicious.
Young students at St Mary's Primary School, Warracknabeal talk confidently about coding, apps, Bluetooth, settings .... and more, when describing their Robotics Program at school. The Digital Technology subject has been going at the school for three years now, and the students just love it!
The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal provided funds for their first Robotics Kit, enabling students to further their digital skills.
Digital Technology teacher, Fiona Holland, brought six students to a recent club meeting, to explain and demonstrate their skills with tiny robots with names like B.Bots, Ollies, Spheroes and Ozobots. After the demonstrations, the 'grown ups' enjoyed a play with the various robots, assisted by the young students.A fun night was had by all.
Congratulations to the staff and students of St Mary's Primary School for taking the initiative to develop the Robotics Program.   
Rotarian Megan Watts is currently enjoying a visit to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada with a group of 11 other Rotarians from our district. Hosted by local clubs, the group is visiting the tourist spots of the region plus learning about the local community and the club's Rotary projects. By all accounts Megan, and her new friends are all having a great time.... what a way to see the world!
The 'Friendship Exchange' program of Rotary International is one of the many opportunities available to Rotarians. 
Simon Ossing, from Germany, has recently arrived in Australia as a Rotary Exchange Student. Simon will spend 12 months in Warracknabeal, hosted by our Rotary Club and three local families. Simon hails from a small village, Herschbach, in central west Germany, between Cologne and Frankfurt. Simon is enjoying his first stay on a farm, where he is amazed at the size of the farm machinery. He has settled in well to life in Warracknabeal, enjoys the friendly and open nature of Aussies, and has even started playing Aussie Rules football with the local team. In his first few weeks Simon has already witnessed Sheep Sales, Aussie Rules, visited the nearby Grampians, experienced Melbourne and also visited the beautiful beaches and coastline of Victoria. Later in his stay Simon will go on a Safari with other exchange students around Australia. It's a wonderful experience for Simon, and equally exciting for our club and our host families. We'll make sure he has a fabulous year.
Simon recently celebrated his 16th birthday with Rotarians, friends and his host families, which includes his eight 'brothers and sisters', pictured here. 
Drought, geographic isolation, financial difficulties and very limited public transport ...... all are typical barriers for rural and regional youth when they want to further their tertiary education opportunities. Many don't make it. This initiative is here to help.
The first Country Education Foundation in Victoria has been established in Warracknabeal and District (CEFWD), a small rural town 365km NW of Melbourne. 
An initiative of the Rotary Club of Warracknabeal, the CEFWD has been formed with additional financial support of the Rotary clubs of Geelong East and Essendon, as well as funding from the Birchip Cropping Group; with volunteer support from Warracknabeal Secondary College and Yarriambiack Shire Council CEO Jessie Holmes.
The fund will provide grants to support the further education, career and personal development opportunities for youth living in the Warracknabeal regional area.
At the launch, CEF Australia CEO Wendy Cohen commended the vision of the local community and Rotary Club in particular, for working towards the goal of enabling rural and regional Victorian young people to succeed. Wendy maintains that “your postcode shouldn’t determine if and where you can go for further education, or limit the career path you take”.
CEFWD applications are now open for 2020 study support via the Country Education Foundation of Australia website:
The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal recently celebrated the 2018-19 Rotary year at the annual Changeover dinner. Under the Presidency of Chris Hewitt it was a very productive and enjoyable year. All members contributed in some way, reflecting the more flexible approach to Rotary - "Come as you are. Do what you can". Three new members joining this year was a highlight. On the night two long time supporters of Rotary and the wider community were recognised as Paul Harris Fellows. Joan Bentley and Gwen Hewitt, wives of Rotarians, were totally surprised by this well deserved honour. Rotarian Peter Martin was also recognised  for his many contributions to Rotary, particularly with fundraising initiatives. We also farewelled Rob and Pam de Vries, after  40 years of involvement with our club and community, as the move to Melbourne. A good night was had by all as Tony Gregson was inducted as the new President.
Our Rotary Youth Exchange student, Laura Daniel, is nearly half way through her 12 month exchange in Germany and continues to take advantage of every opportunity to experience and learn about different cultures of the world.  Laura has just returned from an amazing 20 day Eurotour trip, visiting Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Budapest and Prague with the other international students. Laura said " EuroTour was by far the best experience of my life, and I'm so grateful to have been given the opportunity to see so many places I've only dreamed about seeing and to have done that with 70 of the best people I've ever had the chance of meeting". Laura loved Paris and was so fortunate to visit Notre Dame just two days before it was tragically engulfed in fire. 
Host families have been so welcoming and have helped Laura to feel at home. In summer Laura will even be going with her second host family to Sweden for a holiday. What a life! Thank you Rotary.
Indian Vindaloo, German Kartoffelsalat patties, Moroccan Roast Veggies, Peking Duck pancakes, Indonesian Beef Rendang... and pavlova! Flavours from around the world were enjoyed by more than 50 Rotarians and guests at the recent International Night. What great cooks we have in our community!
The night was also about celebrating the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. We currently have Laura Daniel having the most wonderful experiences on exchange in Germany, and in July we welcome Jasper Holst from Germany into our community.  Jasper's host families came to enjoy a night with our members and also to hear about the exchange program. Past exchange students spoke about their year abroad - Peter Martin (South Africa) and Kate Liersch (France). John Liersch comforted the soon-to-be host families with his host dad recollections. Then Ian Penny spoke about the valuable support role of a student counsellor from his experiences. Finally Ben Bentley spoke about hosting. With his wife Joan,  Ben has hosted an incredible 11 students over the years. 
These are the common words from all speakers.... Challenging, life changing, fun, maturity, confronting, life long friendships, skills for life, family, learning, the most amazing experience ever.
As we know, Rotary Changes Lives. 
Young Leader Shine at the recent Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp in SW Victoria
Jasmine Bull and Callum Zanker loved the five day 2019 RYLA camp at Kangaroobie, as did about 30 other young people from around our district. "The best thing I've ever done" were their comments.
RYLA is a leadership and personal development program for young people aged 18-25 years, and is well regarded both in Rotary circles and the wider community. Every country has their version of this Rotary program….. and the District 9780 format is considered one of the best.
Highly experienced co-leaders of the camp are our very own ex-RYLArians and ex-Warracknabeal residents, Johanna Parker(deVries) and Tristan Knoop. This year, as host club, we also provided the camp Mum and Dad. The RYLArians gave rave reviews of Rob and Pam deVries in this very important role. Well done and thank you to Rob and Pam.
Over 100 people attended the RYLA evening, including DG Anthony Ohlsen, 11 from our club, Rotaractor, Lainee Heeps, and Rotarians from various clubs around the district. The RC Cobden, in particular, were well represented as they take on a huge organisational role every year, supporting the participants with so much dedication and passion.
Our President Chris Hewitt, welcomed all to the night, congratulated the leaders, the organisers, and the RYLA ‘graduates’. Our Youth Director, John Aitken, spoke of the value of the RYLA program as it’s role in providing the inspiration and tools to take young people out of their comfort zone, on a path to realise their self worth and potential.
Johanna and Tristan congratulated the RYLarians for their courage, honesty, love and support for each other throughout the week. After starting as strangers, these young people now have made many life long friends and have a vision for their future.  This is one of the best things that Rotary does.
Paddock to Plate Success
Over 70 visitors arrived in Warracknabeal over the weekend to experience the best of our region, our country hospitality and our local produce. Organised by the Rotary Club of Warracknabeal, visitors came from the Rotary Clubs of Essendon, Wyndham, Geelong, Swan Hill ( DGE Rosanne & Peter), Horsham East, Nhill, Beaumaris, Belmont and Maryborough (DG Anthony Ohlsen & Kerrie) .
Friday night was an informal Pizza Night welcome, especially for our Wyndham Rotarian friends. The Warracknabeal and Wyndham clubs have had a strong 10 year relationship, initiated by Rob deVries, who now lives in Wyndham. The city club has generously donated over $5000 towards our Warracknabeal Primary School Free Breakfast program that runs every Tuesday during the school year. The clubs have regular reciprocal social visits, and it was nice to host them for this big weekend.
On Saturday more visiting Rotarians and friends joined us for guided tours of  Warracknabeal, the famous Silo Art Trail and local farms.   As this was the first farm visit for many, it was a real eye opener to see and learn of the complexity and high tech world that is farming today.
Ben Bentley’s eight stand shearing shed was transformed into a restaurant for the Saturday night signature event, the Paddock to Plate dinner. Over 130 people- locals and visitors- dined in the ‘rustic meets elegant’ setting for a three course meal and entertainment.
The evening began with a skilful shearing demonstration from talented young Wimmera shearers, Sean Brazendale and Josh Bone. Experienced ex-shearer and Warracknabeal wool trader, Stan Deans brought the history of the great Australian wool industry to life, as he gave a very interesting and informative commentary during the shearing.
Mayor Graeme Massey welcomed guests with an overview of the significant economic contribution of Yarriambiack Shire agricultural industries to Victoria and beyond. Rotary President Chris Hewitt, followed, describing our pride in living in this region, and our aim of the weekend to promote our place, people and produce. Rotarian farmer, Tony Gregson, briefly explained our grain/legume/sheep industry, and its positive future, and then described the menu chosen for the night.
The meal, catered by well-regarded Digby chef, Randall Scott, featured some of our local produce-tasty lamb kofta in chick pea crumb, Saltbush lamb with chick pea, pistachio and spice stuffing, tangy lemon tart with wattle seed ice cream, were just some of the flavours.
Available from ‘The Baaaaa’, you could try Sapporo beer, which uses the high quality Wimmera barley that is favoured by the Japanese brewery. Also on offer were award-winning regional wines from Norton Estate (south west of Horsham) and Bests at Great Western.
Raffle prizes of local produce were won by our Essendon visitors….taking a bit of the Wimmera with them.
In his closing remarks, Chris Hewitt outlined the Warracknabeal Rotary Club’s ambitious plans for establishing a Country Education Foundation in Warracknabeal, the first in Victoria, and servicing our local area. Chris said “The foundation would provide grants and funds to assist local children with their post secondary education needs.”
By the end of the night, The Rotary Clubs of Wyndham and Essendon had given $2500 towards the foundation, with pledges from the other clubs present. This is a great example of the power of a large organisation like Rotary to help to make change and improve the lives of others. Plus we meet a lot of great people and have fun while doing this.
The night itself raised approximately $4000 for our club, and was hailed as a great success. 
Chris thanked everyone involved in organising and supporting the night. A special thank you to our sponsors–The Bentley Group, Woodbine Inc, Wimpak, Norton Estate winery, Luv a Duck.
The night finished with a lot of fellowship, laughs, conversations with new friends, and listening to the talents of local musicians, John Butcher and Frosty Gunn.
The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal have two new Rotarians.
Mandy Morcom, a Nurse Practitioner at Rural Northwest Health. Many has been in many local organisations, especially when her four children were growing up. Now that they have all grown up and settled, Mandy is keen to contribute to her community in more and different ways. 
Megan Watts is the club's first concurrent  joint Rotaract-Rotary member, and also, with her mother, Sue, has become the club's first Mother-Daughter concurrent member combination.
Megan has been a leader and driving force  in the Rotaract Club and now wants to bring her ideas, skills and knowledge to Rotary. Megan is in Medical Administration, and enjoys sport, animals and computers. 
The Warracknabeal Primary School Volunteer of the year award was established in 2018 to recognise any school volunteer or group who have shown strong support to the Warracknabeal P.S.
It is named in honour of long serving staff member and former school principal who has dedicated a large part of his teaching career and community life to the children, families and staff of WPS.   Not only did Michael work hard during the school day he was often working hard out of hours and in the holidays and weekends for the school and the local community.  It is awarded in recognition of hard work, loyal service and dedication shown to the Warracknabeal Primary School.  The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal is the first group to receive this award.  It is to show our deep gratitude for providing such valuable support to the students, staff and families of our school.   We really appreciate all the work the Rotary volunteers put into our Breakfast Program, the school Gala Night and in the local community.   We look forward to working with Rotary in the future and wish the club all the very best for the year ahead ……. from your friends at WPS.   
Country Education Foundation of Australia —Wendy Cohen, CEO  (
Wendy travelled from Orange, NSW,  to address Rotarians, partners and key people in local government, community groups and secondary education. Guests included Shire CEO, Jessie Holmes, WSC Principal Therese Allen, WSC Acting Assistant Principal, Casey Phelan, Birchip P-12 Principal John Richmond and Birchip Cropping Group Engagement & Services Manager, Louisa Ferrier.
The idea of a CEF started in Boorowa, NSW, 25 years ago when a group of community members came together to raise funds for students who couldn’t afford post-school training or further education. The idea soon spread and now there are 44 local education foundations run by more than 400 volunteers around Australia- but none in Victoria. Funding from the private sector, individual donations and corporate, philanthropic and educational partners, and bank interest have enabled the CEF to financially support nearly 5000 students with over $9 million worth of grants and scholarships.
Young people from rural and remote Australia face barriers and obstacles in being able to access further education, creating significant disparity between aspiration and opportunity. “Your postcode shouldn’t determine if and where you can go for further education, or limit the career path you take” said Wendy.
The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal is very keen to drive the establishment of such a foundation in our region, as our young people face many of the same obstacles and barriers that Wendy identified as common in rural areas.  It makes sense to follow a successful model. Through associating with the CEF any new Foundation has access to assistance with governance, policies, practices and strategies for volunteers. It is a registered Not for Profit charity with Tax Deductable Gift status. The high success rate of CEF recipients completing course and finding employment in chosen fields, together with the steady growth of the CEF, are more reasons for thinking seriously about this model for our area.  Thanks to President Chris for initiating the vision after being offered support for drought relief form several Rotary sources. And thanks to Tony, through his contact with CFE Ambassador, Tim Fisher AC,  for following up this concept and securing Wendy to speak at our meeting.
“An investment in education gives the best returns”
Benjamin Franklin
Australia Day celebrations are always a great start to the year for the Warracknabeal community. A big crowd ventured to Anzac Park on Saturday morning for a sumptuous hot breakfast cooked by the Rotary Club, while listening to the music of local trio of John Butcher, Curl Taylor and Frosty Gunn. Rotaractors had plenty for children too- games, face painting, temporary tattoos and a photo booth. When local Aero Club pilot, Phil Lienert, flew over the park, it was time for  the offical proceedings to start. The Guides and Scouts' Flag Parade led the official party to the stage.  
President of the Rotary Club, Chris Hewitt, welcomed everyone to this occasion where we take time to celebrate our great community and country. This year's guest speaker was Rob Spicer. Rob was born in Warracknabeal and was known for his sporting prowess, particularly in swimming.... in the early days the creek was the only venue for swimming.  He left school as soon as he could and went off to join the Navy. His love of swimming and the water saw him become a diver in the Navy, and in his 30s he trained to become a sea Captain. His talents and hard work saw him become a Master of some of the biggest oil tankers in the world.  An inspirational story!
The audience was then entertained by Darryn Wardle, a talented local musician, who is back home after many years in Broome.
Warracknabeal and District Australia Day Awards were presented to Geoff Lovel (Citizen of the Year), Alan McLean (Sportsperson of the Year), Merryn Baxter (Sports Achiever of the Year) and Nicola Clyne (Young Achiever of the Year). Two Yarriambiack Shire award were also presented to Warracknabeal locals. Lily Eldridge was the Young Achiever of the Year, while The Wheat City Angels' Victorian Stampede won the Event of the Year. 
Rotary is the proud organiser of this event each year as a service to the community. This annual event, with its celebration of local stories, local talent and local contributions, perfectly reflects the Rotary International theme for 2018-19, 'Be The Inspiration'. 
Laura Daniel – 2019 Warracknabeal Rotary Exchange Student to Ottersheim bei Landau, Germany
Laura recently presented  the powerpoint that she will use to introduce herself, our club and our country to her host club in Germany when she arrives in January. The comprehensive summary included her family, her interests, Warracknabeal, Australian geography, history, culture, sport, flora & fauna and the projects of our Rotary Club. Lots of pictures brought the presentation to life.  Laura also told us a little about the small village of Ottersheim bei Landau and her first host family. While she has been teaching herself some German, Laura will attend language classes on arrival in Germany. Rotary President Chris Hewitt officially presented Laura with her Exchange jacket, together with a range of small Aussie items to exchange with other students, to adorn their jackets.  Laura spoke with pride about her family, her country and our club. We know she will be a great ambassador and we will be here to support her. Asked whether she had the same feeling about exchange now as she did at the start, Laura replied. “At first I was mainly interested in learning a new language, but now, after learning more about the exchange I’m looking forward to learning so much more about different cultures and meeting people from around the world.”
Beste wunsche und haben eine tolle zeit Laura. (Best wishes and have a great time  Laura)
Yarriambiack Youth Action Council
Cr. Kylie Zanker and Will Drage, spoke about the activities of the Yarriambiack Youth Action Council in our community. This group began in 2015 with six members. In most other communities it is often extension of the school Student Representative Council, but in Yarriambiack Shire it is a ground up organisation, formed through the initiative of Murray McKenzie, the Yarriambiack Shire youth engagement officer. They meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. The only other youth council in the region is in Nhill.
Currently the Yarriambiack Youth Action Council has 21 members aged 13 to 22. They conduct an annual youth forum with over 200 students from eight schools in the region, with speakers such as Jannik Blair, a wheelchair basketballer from Horsham who has played for the University of Missouri and in the Australian National Wheelchair basketball team. They have run or been involved with a Youth Forum, beyond blue programs targeting rural youth,Yarriambiack has Talent, Patchewollock Music Festival, the very popular Games Nights in Warracknabeal, Hopetoun and Murtoa, Camera Nights, the Ramp it, Rage it, Stage it event at the Skate Park.  They have also worked with NEXUS in Horsham and been involved with Freeza.  They talk about the community, sports and events on Triple H every 2nd week. Other programs include job skills programs such as car detailing, barista courses, testing and tagging, food handling and first-aid.
Will Drage spoke about the skills that he had learnt, from doing the lighting at talent shows; to emceeing events and public speaking. He has found it a rewarding and enjoyable  experience, and wishes to continue with the Council.
Cr Kylie Zanker, who is the Shire Delegate on the Youth Council, told Rotarians the most amazing part is watching their growth, which was highlighted 3 weeks ago when one of the members was presented with the Order of Australia Central Highlands Group School Student Citizenship Award.
Many Rotarians expressed surprise at the range of activities and the future opportunities for both Rotary and Rotaract to support and partner with the youth Council to provide a better community for young people in Yarriambiack Shire.
Thirteen Warracknabeal Rotarians, several partners, and two Honorary Rotarians travelled to Geelong on Tuesday 4th September to participate in the celebration of Stan’s induction into Rotary 50 years ago. As well as family members and members of his home club of Geelong East, there were Rotarians representing his previous two clubs,  Warracknabeal (his first club) and Beaufort, plus long time friend, Rotarian Clem Quick from the RC Beaumaris. Clubs present read out extensive lists of achievements and contributions from Stan’s 50 years of service.  RC Geelong East President David presented Stan with his second Paul Harris Sapphire recognition saying Stan was probably the only Rotarian in Australia to receive this recognition from three separate Rotary Clubs.
In Stan’s response he thanked Carol, his family and the many Rotarians for their support during his 50 years of service.
A good crowd came to our recent Rotary gathering to hear the life story of our local member, Emma Kealy. Emma spoke of growing up in Edenhope, her journey through uni and careers in the health sector as a Medical Scientist and administrator, before becoming a parliamentarian. The values learned from her country upbringing  have held her in good stead throughout her life and motivate her in whatever she does.


Saturday 14th July 2018 saw the induction of new President Kelsea Wall, and her Board for 2018/2019 at a great function held at the Warracknabeal Race Club.  Kelsea spoke on her hopes for a great year and congratulated outgoing President Megan Watts for her great leadership over the past 12 months.

DG Anthony Ohlsen recognising two Warracknabeal Rotarians, Ben Bentley and Tony Gregson as Paul Harris Society Members at the Changeover Dinner.
Paul Harris Society recognizes Rotary members and friends of The Rotary Foundation who contribute $1,000 or more each Rotary year to the Annual Fund, PolioPlus Fund, or approved Foundation grants.
The new Board for the Rotary Club of Warracknabeal was presented to the Club at the Annual Changeover
(Photo courtesy of the Warracknabeal Herald)..
  The presentation of two Paul Harris Fellows to PP Sue Watts and Honorary Member Leora Duffield by District Governor Anthony Ohlsen and Outgoing President Wendy Hewitt at the Warracknabeal Changeover on 4th July 2018
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