Sunbury Agricultural Show president Tony McMahon was named the town’s citizen of the year during the Kiwanis Club’s annual Australia Day breakfast at the Village Green. The dairy industry veteran talks with Matt Crossman.
What was the feeling when you found out you’d won the award?
It was a real surprise. I was quite taken aback by it, really. They asked me to come along to the function and I thought that was a little strange. It’s not about me though … with these things you’re representing the people around you.
The show is a perfect example of what volunteering is all about. There are so many people there who’ve been there for years, they know their stuff, they look after the same section each time … ultimately they love what they do. It’s a great thing for the community, and they get a lot out of it too.
How old were you when you first became involved with the show?
I competed when I was a kid. My father was an ex-president, my uncle was an ex-president and my grandfather was involved too. Over the years I watched them all do it and then I decided to give it a crack myself. I’ve been on the committee for about 22 years now.
What do you enjoy most about the role?
I think it’s great to see the people involved getting satisfaction out of it. The way they stick at it, it’s a good indication that they are enjoying it. We’ve got a really great relationship with our volunteers and everybody involved on the committee. Everyone just works together and we work it all out as we go.
You’ve lived in Sunbury your whole life, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in that time?
Number one is the roads. That’s probably the biggest. The growth here has been huge. They only started doing subdivisions in the late 1950s … I was probably five or six when that started. In those days, there were probably two or three builders in the whole town and, whenever a new house was going up, everybody would go and drive past to have a bit of a look at what was going on.
What do you see as some of the challenges ahead as the population continues to grow?
Transport is a big one. We need more strategic carparking, so people can walk to where they want to go. We also need to seriously look at what we’re going to do with the railway crossing, because the station these days is probably in the wrong spot. If it was further up towards the Diggers Rest end of the town, the traffic would run freely and so would the trains.