Max Carey, Taree Rotary Club

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Taree Rotary Club is a community organisation that is very active in the Manning-Great Lakes area. We spoke recently with Max Carey, a current member and past President of the Taree Rotary Club, about the creation of a fabulous photomontage in Rotary Park Taree, as well as other projects that Taree Rotary Club has on the go.

Hi Max. Rotary Park has been a project of the Taree Rotary Club for some 40 years. For our readers who aren’t aware, can you give us a brief rundown of the work undertaken in Rotary Park by Rotary members and the community over the years?

In approximately 1969/70, the club decided to construct Rotary Park. Taree Municipal Council had recently commenced development of Taree Recreational area, and there was a piece of land available which was not required for sporting purposes. Wilf Connors, a Horticulturist, selected the trees, which were planted under his guidance. Together with the Council, and the labour provided by many of our members, the roadwork and toilets were completed. Shingles were attached to the shelter roofs, which were built by Norm Jones. The shelters’ roof frames were transported to Valley Industries, where Rotarians attached the Forest Oak shingles obtained from Timbertown, and also some Red Mahogany shingles on the BBQ were split by Rotarians. 

During the next year, President Bob Young added three shelters with tables, and the following year Bob Berry added two more shelters. 

In 2017, MidCoast Council replaced the toilet block in Rotary Park, which left an open space in front of the toilet block. The Rotary Club Taree considered this open space ideal for some type of mural. After considering rural scenes, beach scenes or sunsets, it was decided that an historic photomontage relating to the settlement of Manning Valley would be appropriate.

Our wonderful Manning Valley has a rich history, but it must have been a challenge gathering and choosing the photos that would feature in the photomontage. Can you tell us the process, and how it all came together?

We consulted with Alan Small from Camera House in Taree, who has been a Rotary Club Taree member for many years, and who we knew had a collection of pictures covering the history of the Manning Valley. This collection of photographs covered all aspects of settlement in Taree and Wingham areas. The difficult part was deciding which images we could leave out. Alan spent many hours selecting suitable pictures and combining them into this photomontage that we see today.

Which are the photos you found the most interesting and why?

It is difficult to select a picture with more significance than any other. I believe pictures of activities on the Manning River perhaps are most significant, as our river was the basis for the first settlement of the area. Such scenes as cream boats carrying milk, or droghers carrying gravel or logs are very significant, not to forget the steamers that came from Sydney and went upstream as far as Wingham carrying settlers as well as supplies, and were used to carry produce back to Sydney.

This is quite obviously a project that required lots of community involvement. Can you give us an idea about who has contributed, and in what ways?  

The project would not have been possible without the participation of Alan Small from Camera House Taree, and Jeff Chambers of Barrier Signs, who printed the montage on to suitable material with no cost to Rotary. Our members with technical abilities attached the montage to the space on the front toilet wall.

What has been the community response to the photomontage?

The project has been planned and undertaken over the last few months and was erected and opened by the Mayor of MidCoast Council early in October 2018, when members of Rotary Club Taree were present. Comments have only been favourable and commending of Rotary for celebrating the development of the Taree- Manning area. We hope that many more people will view and appreciate this montage.

Are there any other projects that Rotary has on the horizon you’d like to share with us?

 The Rotary Club of Taree strives to uphold the motto “Service Above Self”, and we are very focused on projects that involve our community.  

Our most significant project is our Rotary Golf Day at Taree Golf Club, which is held on Australia Day each year. This golf day is sponsored by local businesses, and players come from as far as Sydney to play in this competition, raising considerable funds which are then distributed to the Children’s Cancer Ward at Manning Hospital, the Australian Children’s Music Foundation, and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. 

The Rotary Club Taree also runs the canteen for the MidCoast Football Association during the football season. 

We currently have a very big focus on youth activities. We are now sponsoring Miss Bailee Pinnock in Denmark as an exchange student for a year. We have recently sponsored Taree High student Mitch Brown for a short-term visit to Okayama-Chuo in Japan, and in return we provided for a visit from Miss Natsuko Misawa from Okayama-Chuo.  

Other youth activities include the appointment of two Rotary Youth Ambassadors this year – Ashley Selibio from Chatham High School and Cayley Cribb from St Clare’s High School. We also appointed Mitchell Brown and Marylyn Sendah during the previous two years. We are also sponsoring Miguel Guthridge to the annual National Youth Science Forum in Canberra 2019.   

Our club also assists with the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness program each year. This program is for students in Year 11 who are learning to drive and aims to make them aware of dangers of driving irresponsibly and the hazards involved.

Internationally, we have been providing much needed maintenance to the Kokoda Hospital in PNG, where we have helped build a new nurses’ quarters out of shipping containers, together with maintenance around the hospital.  

If people want to become involved in Rotary, how can they do so?  

Rotary Clubs in Taree are active organisations working for the community and will always welcome new members. Any person, whether they are in business, employed in service organisations or any other activities are eligible to become Rotarians. It is an ideal way to become acquainted with the people in the town, and to become involved in community activities.

Simply contact our President, Ian Woollard on 0429 902 980, or our Membership Director Ashley Cleaver on 0419 434 566 (or any Rotarian) if you are interested in attending our club meeting. They are held each Monday evening, 6pm, at Club Taree.

Any final thoughts?

Taree Rotary Park is an idyllic oasis for people travelling through Taree, as it provides a space of peace and tranquillity for weary travellers. Here they can stop and rest and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.

The erection of this historical photomontage continues the fine tradition of the Rotary Club of Taree, where we are actively involved in beautifying our local community spaces. It is a fitting tribute to our early pioneering families, as it provides a thoughtful insight into the early history of our beautiful Manning Valley and our wonderful Manning River. 

Thanks Max.

Interview: Ingrid Bayer.

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