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Rotary Club of Burnie News

Successful Rural Medical School student

Laura Sliskovic is the newly chosen recipient of Burnie Rotary Club’s two-year Rural Medical School scholarship.

Laura is seen at right with Club President Barrie and Club Secretary George. She hails from Bicheno and has found Burnie to be ‘just right’; a quiet town, with friendly, welcoming people and great beaches. She says she is glad to have escaped from Hobart. Laura has a very ‘bubbly’ personality and clearly she is absolutely no fool! 

Laura is welcome to attend any of our fortnightly meetings .

Yoo Hoo ALL Golfers

Attention please‼️

To all golf lovers, 🏆    
🎉We are back again🎊

    Burnie Rotary Club’s  Annual Golf day

When? Saturday 2nd March, 2023
Where? Seabrook Golf Club

The golf will be great – as always – with GREAT PRIZES!

For example: 

Ratho Farm is a boutique accommodation, golf course, wedding and function venue situated in the Central Highlands in Tasmania, Australia. www.rathofarm.com 
Ratho Farm is more than just Australia’s oldest golf course.

Burnie Rotary Club is pleased to announce that Ratho Farm has donated🎁 a package of one night’s accommodation and a round of golf for up to 6 people, valued at $1,200. This will be the subject of a raffle 🎖️ conducted by the Rotary Club of Burnie and drawn on Saturday 2nd March at our Annual Golf Day at Seabrook Golf Club.

Tickets, which cost 💰$5 each or 3 for $10 may be purchased from Rotarians George Austin 📞0438 450 801 or Paul Kearney ☎️0407 310 059

Mark the date – Sat. 2nd March – in your diary.🖊️

We’d love to see you👋🏻😃


It has been an annual tradition of our club for its last meeting prior to the Christmas break to be a breakfast meeting instead of an evening meeting.
With our President and Secretary at the head table (not shown), we had 16 members present. There were, though, 11 no-shows. [The Bulletin Editor took the photos.]

We take the first (small) step

Burnie Rotary Club was formed in 1942, thus it is now 81 years old. It has always been a ‘traditional’ club; however it has been abundantly clear for at least a decade now that such clubs will soon die out.

Burnie RC has been showing all the traits that will prove fatal, unless significant changes are made.

The first – small – step has now been taken: From Jan. 1, 2024 the club will meet every other Monday (ignoring those Mondays that are Public Holidays).

Thus our Jan. 2024 meetings will be on Jan. 8 and Jan. 22.

Dr. John Parker – From Cholera to Ebola

Dr Parker described his 20+ years of experience as a medical volunteer in war zones and other disaster zones around the world. He travelled as a team member of groups such as: International Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Aspen Medical.
Zones visited:
          Rwanda-Zaire. He helped the millions of refugees fleeing the genocide there in 1994. John returned home with signs of his having PTSD, though he ignored these. Eventually his marriage ended and he headed to a war zone.
            Afghanistan (northern provinces). In 2000, the Taliban was in a civil war with the Northern Alliance.

Back in Australia, John became an alcoholic, lost his medical practice and was desperately unhappy. He found that nobody ‘back home’ cared to hear of his experiences. They had not changed, but HE had!  He was very fortunate to secure a job mucking-out horse stables. The horses sensed his unhappiness and they would nuzzle his neck to show that they understood. He married again.
          Nigeria There was a meningococcal outbreak in the northern area in 2006. From there, John went to Uganda to help organise a medical clinic dealing with AIDS.
In 2008, John went to a major burns hospital in eastern Iraq near the Iran border, where he risked being abducted; foreign doctors were worth $500,000 each. Hence, security was extreme.

Back home again, his house burned down!

In North Sudan, he helped Christian groups in this Arabic country. The medical mission there was clandestine, but random bombing was always a threat. It was here that John had his two most devastating medical failures. Two children had epiglottis (a swelling of the valve between the gullet and the windpipe – caused by an infection). John could only look on as they died, helpless, because he lacked the necessary surgical instrument to save them.

It took two years before John recovered sufficiently to become a functioning doctor again.

In 2015, John’s team went to Sierra Leone to combat an Ebola epidemic. In the four months he was there not one staff member died.


John ended his talk by saying; ‘When you live on adrenaline, you know you are alive!’


Grant Youd: Life of a Train Driver

Grant talked to us on 24 July. He comes from a ‘railway family’ – in all, he and other family members worked on the Tasmanian rail system for a total of 136 years!
          Grant’s lengthy  railway service enabled him to experience the changes in management style, from the early days when ‘you could get away with anything’ to nowadays, where everything is laid down in great detail and woe betide you if you don’t follow the rules – which is how it must be to avoid litigation.
           Grant was asked if he had killed anyone. He replied “No”, but he had had several “messy” incidents, which clearly still trouble him today. He decided to voluntarily visit schools and talk to Year Ten classes about the dangers of rail crossings. Those students would soon have driving licences, he said, and he felt it was important to impress on them what to look out for near rail crossings.
           What about suicides? Grant described one incident where he managed to stop his engine just feet away from a man standing unflinchingly in the middle of the train track.
         For the last ten years Grant was TasRail’s chief trainer of new drivers, a position that gave him much satisfaction.
          Grant was thanked by acclimation.

[At right, Grant is shown with his book  A Train Driver’s Story. ]

Gabriella Conti – CEO of WxNW

Gabriella lives on a dairy farm at South Riana. West x North West (see https://www.wxnw.com.au/) is one of four regional tourism bodies that come under the State-wide body, Tourism Tasmania.
          Gabriella explained that the 2022-2025 plan for WxNW embraces:


Vision for 2025:

– Advocacy& Leadership

Our communities understand and appreciate the value of tourism

– Product Development

Our region is no longer ‘a long way from Hobart’; instead it is a destination that must be visited

– Industry Support

Operators are focused on delivering quality experiences aligned to the region’s strengths

– Marketing

Collaborative (focusing on the visitor journey – not on municipalities)

Gabriella mentioned these tourism opportunities:

  • Significant financial support to enable maintenance and upgrades of West Coast Wilderness Railway
  • Unconformity festival in October
  • Bay of Fires – view on ABC TV on Sunday, 16 July, at 8.30pm
  • ‘Tasting Trail’
  • ‘Permission to Trespass’ in Wynyard & Table Cape region
  • Dismal Swamp revitalisation
  • King Island Kelp Farming

When Gabriella drew attention to the ‘Second Iconic Walk’ proposed by Tas. Parks & Wildlife Service – a 3-day walk to be constructed in the Tyndall Ranges from the Anthony Road near Lake Plimsoll south to the Lake Margaret Power Station – our club’s resident wilderness expert, John Glen, expressed his vehement opposition to the concept. Gabriella acknowledged that WxNW was quite aware of widespread opposition by many people and groups.

Belle Binder – MD of Left Field

In 2023, Belle Binder was named an AgriFutures® Rural Women’s Award State Finalist and received the Encouragement Award for Tasmania.
        Now 42 yrs old, Belle is the founder and Managing Director of Left Field, which is successfully introducing changed concepts of people management on Tasmanian farms.
        She has a quite remarkable personal story. As a teenager in Devonport, Belle was kicked out of home by her very self-centred and domineering father. She took to the streets and found drugs, moved to Newcastle NSW and found stronger drugs; “experienced ‘rock bottom’, which taught me resilience and empathy – these now fuel my entrepreneurial spirit.”
        Belle reckons that drugs arose from her being bored, but seeing that drugs dragged down the performance of people around her made her decide to change her direction and get her life in order.       
        She started several small ventures and while each was initially a success, this success attracted competitors, reducing thereby the scope for her ventures to grow.       
        Then, in July 2020, when Covid’s impact was at its peak, Belle started Left Field, a labour hire organisation focussed on supplying the Tasmanian horticultural industry with dedicated and motivated farm workers.
        Belle said Left Field promotes the importance of farm culture; “culture permeates every aspect of farming – the habits, assumptions, traditions, and acceptable behaviour on a farm – affecting productivity, employee retention, and profitability.”

We meet Frank MacDonald Prize winners

We were privileged to listen to Xander Power (Marist College) and Jacob Rittman (Penguin HS), who were accompanied by Emma Cohen (Burnie HS English & History teacher). The two boys were very capable and did us Rotarians proud.
        Seen at right: (L to R) Xander, Jacob, Emma.

The Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize is an annual competition that commemorates and preserves the meaning of the Anzac spirit in the Tasmanian community. Our speakers tonight were two of the six Year 9 students selected from around Tasmania to go on a 10-day Study Tour in April 2023 (incorporating Anzac Day) and:
– visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra
– attend monthly educational meetings in the lead up to the Study Tour
– undertake research into individual soldiers prior to touring European battle-grounds.
       The Tas. Dept. of Education invites essays from Year 9 students throughout Tasmania and whittles the candidates down to a final group of six students to take part in the Tour.
Jacob said their time was focused on Ypres and surrounding locations. They saw the Menin Gate with its 54,000 names of missing soldiers who have no other proper grave and they participated in the 8 pm service, held every day since 1928. They walked in trenches that were only 1.2m deep and they visited the huge 100m diameter crater that is all that remains of Hill 60 which had been destroyed by explosives placed underneath by experienced British and Allied mine workers.
       They also visited other famous battlegrounds, such as Polygon Wood, Fromelles (where there are remains of 5,500 Australian soldiers) and Tyne Cot cemetery – the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world.

Xander said the group focused initially on the region near Amiens (the Somme). More than three million men fought in the Somme battles, of which one million were either wounded or killed, making it one of the deadliest battles in all of human history.
         They visited Ablain St. Nazaire cemetery, the world’s largest French military cemetery with 40,000 French soldier’s graves. They saw the famous Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge, which bears the names of all Canadian soldiers who died in France with no known grave.
          Pozieres was another destination for the group. This part of the Somme battleground is of particular interest to Australia, as it was the scene of bitter and costly fighting by Australian Divisions in mid-1916. The Australians suffered around 12,000 casualties.
           Another destination in the Somme was Villers-Bretonneux, where the main memorial to Australian military personnel killed on the Western Front in WW One is located. The Sir John Monash Centre there is a museum and interpretive centre for Australia’s most famous General in WW One. While there, the group left their hotel at 2:40 am to be present during the Anzac Day dawn service.
         After all that, the group had one day in Paris before returning to Australia. Oh, and they ate snails too!
         What an amazing experience!

Vale Past President Graeme Muir (1930..2023)

The Rotary Club of Burnie hereby seeks to mark the very recent passing in June 2023 of Past President Graeme Muir, our longest serving member. Some basic facts:
Date of Birth:         8 July 1930
Partner’s name      Dorothy (deceased)
Date of Induction:  20 Oct. 1968 (Graeme had been a member of Apex)
Classification:        Fabric Retailing
Senior Active:        20 Oct. 1983
Awarded Paul Harris Fellow in 1992 

Offices Held:
70/72 Community
74/75 Fellowship   (+ 78/79)
79 – 81 Attendance
81/82 Program
84/85 Bulletin
88/89 Vocational
92/93 Pres. Elect & Membership
93/94 President
94/95 International Service
08 – 23 Attendance

Some of Graeme’s Rotary experiences:

In 1971-72, Graeme was Community Service Director under President Ken Webb who was a hard task master. Near the end of Webb’s year, Ken said he wanted to build a rescue ambulance. ‘There was a need to be able to mobilise auxiliary lighting, jacks, cutting tools, hoists, to name just a few items’ Ken said. Graeme’s committee, though, refused to help; they’d had enough of these never-ending jobs from their President! Graeme gave this news to Ken, but at the following week’s club meeting – while looking pointedly at Graeme – Ken Webb announced that he had obtained a suitable ambulance and even had found most of the materials to equip it. 

 In 1992, the Burnie Marine Board and a company, North Limited, agreed to host a yacht race from Melbourne to Burnie. The Royal Melbourne Yacht Club organised the race details, while a consortium of Burnie service clubs (Burnie Rotary Club taking the lead) organised the on-shore activities at the Burnie Port. Graeme Muir, himself on the Burnie Marine Board, was also a member of the service club consortium.  Graeme recalled that one man came to him and said; ‘I think you have a problem with toilets.’ Graeme agreed – there simply were no toilets on the wharf! The man said; ‘I will supply all the toilets and I will supply the cleaners to look after them. You forget about it.’ Many years later, that man, Murray O’Connor, became President of Burnie RC.