AUSTRALIA DAY IN THE NORTH BURNETT
LIFE long cattleman Alan McCallum is the Gayndah 2017 Citizen of the Year after being honoured at the Australia Day ceremony.
Born in Gayndah in 1938, Mr McCallum has spent his entire life on the land, being raised on a dairy farm before becoming a grazier himself.
“My father owned a dairy farm with a handful of cattle too, I knew early on there was nothing else I wanted to do.”
Mr McCallum followed in his father’s footsteps and became a grazier and now owns the Mandoora property outside of Gayndah.
He was overwhelmed about being named the Citizen of the Year.
“When I got the letter from council I was really surprised,” Mr McCallum said.
“No-one knew who won until John Zahl made the announcement on the day and it floored me when he said my name.”
Mr McCallum spent the entire day beforehand mustering and used the time to go over his speech in his head.
“That doesn’t help once you get up in front of the actual crowd though,” Mr McCallum said.
“It is such an honour and I’m still a little shocked by it all. But nothing will change, I was back out on the property the very next morning.
“Every single person nominated deserved the award and a number of people who weren’t.”
Mr McCallum praised the community he has called home for 79 years and the work done by the variety of organisations he is involved with.
Currently Mr McCallum is a fire warden in the North Burnett.
“In 1951 after some bad fires the area was divided into divisions with appointed wardens,” Mr McCallum said.
“I took on the role of warden a few years back.
“There are so many people in the community who do such great work and they don’t do it for anything in return.
“Those people make a community richer and stronger.”
Mr McCallum subscribes to the notion that an active life leads to a happy life.
“I’ve never thought about retiring and my wife even says that the only way you will get me off the property is in a box.”
Not once in his 79 years has Mr McCallum ever thought to leave the Burnett.
“I believe the Burnett is considered one of the best places for rainfall,” Mr McCallum said.
“As a grazier you could always do with more rain, there’s always a use for that water, but the Burnett is generally really good.
“This season so far has probably been a little below average, 10 of my 14 dams are dry.”
Despite some time away at boarding school Mr McCallum has rarely if ever spent prolonged time away from the region he loves.
“It is a great honour to get this award and I did get a little teary there for a moment,” Mr McCallum said.
It demonstrated the love Mr McCallum has for the region and its people.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Alan McCallum was honoured on Australia Day.