The small remote community of Finke was recognised when named the winner in two categories at the Keep Australia Beautiful national Tidy Town awards ceremony last night. Having flown from the edge of the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory to Barmera on the Murray River in South Australia, three of Finke’s 160 proud residents accepted the awards on behalf of their community.
Flying the flag for the Northern Territory in the national competition, Finke was first named joint winner of the Community Action and Wellbeing category and then outright winner of the Heritage and Culture category. Having also been highly commended in the Dame Phyllis Frost Litter Prevention, Waste Management and Resource Recovery category, Finke found itself under consideration with two other towns for the main prize.
Representing Finke at the awards, residents Rosemary Matasia, Leigh Iselin-Blumberg and Kenneth Hayes had a tense wait until the conclusion of proceedings when Smithton in north-west Tasmania was announced as the national Tidy Town winner for 2018.“Successful collaboration is evident as Finke continues to grow – providing longevity to its current and future generations. Using their environment to their advantage, where possible, is enabling Finke to remain true to its culture and heritage while modernising their world”, national Tidy Town judge Gail Langley said.
The entire community embraces the responsibility to keep their community clean. While the local Civil Works team of the MacDonnell Regional Council provides the backbone for getting things done, they are well supported by the efforts of the residents. In all their encounters Finke is a close knit community that has developed great civic pride.
Residents of Finke are driven to promote various clean and sustainable initiatives that keep their community tidy and welcoming. They have embraced MacDonnell Regional Council’s development of their waste management processing and engage where possible with their own initiative like curbside recycling – even though their roads don’t have curbs!
Since the community’s formative times alongside the Old Ghan track, the residents of Finke have a long standing relationship with visiting tourists. Today it welcomes travellers on the Oodnadatta track, four wheel drive enthusiasts traversing the Simpson Desert and once a year it is the challenging half way point of the Finke Desert Race.
Traditionally known as Aputula, Finke has a population of about 160 residents and is located 230km south east of Alice Springs. The community today takes its name from the usually dry Finke River (one of the oldest river systems in the world dating back 350 million years) that meanders by the area.
The national and territory Tidy Town awards recognise the community’s long commitment to the values of Tidy Towns as a continuing part of their culture. Finke has previously been named Territory Tidy Town in 1998 and again in 2017.
A healthy competition among the 13 communities of the MacDonnell Regional Council means the achievements of its staff are rated very highly when judged against the rest of the nation or the territory. In many aspects of local government and service delivery in remote Australia, the MacDonnell Regional Council is seen as a leader and innovator by stakeholders and peers.
When MacDonnell Council formed in 2008 many communities didn’t have a regular rubbish collection and households burned their waste in old fuel drums in the street. Today communities compete across the nation to impress Tidy Town judges. MacDonnell Regional Council communities have gone from strength to strength in their Tidy Town achievements.
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