Take a moment to reflect on our local heroes

As a vegetarian who hates beer and has no sporting ability I’m familiar with the label “un-Australian”.

I’m also conscious of the fact January 26 represents for many an invasion rather than a celebration.

So, often our national day does not inspire in me the kind of nationalistic fervour exhibited by my flag cape wearing peers.

But I firmly believe Australia Day has an important place in recognising some of the hard-working individuals who make this country great.

And I’m not just talking about the big guns like 2013 Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose, although her professional, cultural and charitable contributions have been immense.

I’m referring to those in our local communities who epitomise the wartime adage, “think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

They give up their time and skills with no thoughts of recognition or accolades.

People like Harry Ashton who runs the Men’s Shed in Rushworth, Carol Barton who is the Kerang District Health Ladies Auxiliary president and Frank Forster who volunteers for several environmental groups around Castlemaine.

Then there’s Janice Shumack, the Macedon Ranges Citizen of the Year whose weekly contributions include delivering meals, driving elderly residents to medical and social appointments, and helping with gardening at the Gisborne Tennis Club and St Brigid’s Church.

So take a minute this morning, flick to Page 7 and read the list of people who spent 2012 making their communities great.