Friday, February 9, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Whitsunday Australia Day Awards

Inspiring members of the Whitsunday community have been honoured at the 2024 Australia Day Awards held at the Flagstaff Function Centre in Bowen on Saturday.

The touching ceremony, which acknowledged many local individuals, was postponed from January 26 and re-scheduled due to Cyclone Kirrily.

Citizen of the Year - Christine Hinschen

Christine continues to be a beacon of the community, having managed and owned the Anglican Opportunity Shop, as well as being integral to leading local disaster efforts and helping those abroad.

Christine has aided citizens in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, as well as local organisations like Lifeline Gold Coast and the Women’s Refuge Centre which support financially and materially impacted individuals. Christine’s impact is immeasurable, and she is a true inspiration to the Whitsunday community.  

Young Citizen of the Year – Sam Rogers

Sam’s continuous impact and influence in the Whitsundays knows no bounds. Having represented the region in the Queensland Youth Parliament, Sam is also exceeding in a range of other fields. He is an international STEM leader and a National Science and Engineering award winner. Sam’s leadership within Proserpine State High School was humble yet far-reaching, his influence positive and genuine, marking him a strong inspiration for Youth Citizen of the Year.

Mayoral Award – Danzel Lewis

A strong advocate for First Nations peoples and a confident leader at Bowen State High School, Danzel is an inspiring influence in the region. Highlighting the importance of mental health and the impacts of bullying and domestic violence during his leadership addresses, Denzel created a culture of positivity and kindness within the school. Danzel's involvement in both school and community activities is extensive, earning him the school community service award for five consecutive years. He also became the first Indigenous student to complete a certificate III in Business with The Hillery Group.

Volunteer of the Year – Sheryl Gordon

Serving as Vice President of the Collinsville QCWA, Sheryl has shown dedicated, unwavering support for her community, going above and beyond with everything she does. Sheryl is a common face at community events, generously donating her time and culinary skills to various not-for-profit organisations and delighting all with her delicious, sweet treat creations. As busy lady, Sheryl works full-time maintaining a local business and overseeing her family’s cattle farm, but she still manages to find time for community involvement and is always a pillar of support for others.

Community Event of the Year Award – Baby Welcoming Ceremony – Bowen Lions Ladies

Celebrating one of the most momentous occasions, the birth of a new child, the Bowen Lions Ladies have created a celebration to welcome local babies to the community.

For over two decades, the Baby Welcoming Ceremony has seen over 500 Bowen babies presented by their parents and the annual event has become a cherished tradition for families in the community.  The Baby Welcoming Ceremony is a testament to the dedication and generosity of the Bowen Lions Ladies, creating a momentous celebration for generations to come.

Senior Sportsperson Award – Aimee Sulzberger

A regular on the sports track, Aimee’s athletic journey is astounding and inspirational. Having dominated competitions from the Townsville marathon to the Whitsunday Trail Festival, Aimee has been awarded gold for the North QLD Cross Country. What makes Aimee's accomplishments even more astounding is that she is a mother of three, pushing a pram with two inside and one on the front wheel. Aimee Sulzberger is undeniably a force to be reckoned with, exemplifying resilience, dedication, and a passion for excellence in sports.

Mayor Julie Hall, Citizen of the Year Christine Hinschen and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox. Photo credit: R Jean Photography

Young Citizen of the Year, Sam Rogers.

Sheryl Gordon awarded Volunteer of the Year

Bowen Lions Ladies awarded Community Event of the Year, for the Bowen Baby Welcoming Ceremony

Aimee Sulzberger awarded Senior Sportsperson Award

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