Romsey’s Peter Mitchell received a Macedon Ranges council Community Achievement Award on Australia Day. He speaks with Serena Seyfort about giving back to his beloved home.
What’s your connection to the Macedon Ranges?
I’ve lived here in Romsey for 84 years – I was born here. I’ve worked as a farmer and my wife and I raised our son and daughter in Romsey. They are very successful and have given us two grandchildren.
Tell us about your involvement with the community.
I’ve been very involved in Romsey. It was a great village to grow up in, and I just wanted to be involved to put something back into the town.
I joined the former Romsey Shire Council as a councillor in 1973, where I stayed for three terms – nine and a half years. I was on the board of Romsey Water Trust for 17 years, and I was chairman for the last eight of them. During that time (1970s and 1980s), we sewered the whole town and I was chairman of the Romsey Sewerage Authority.
I was a member of the Lancefield Cemetery Trust, and I was chairman when the major upgrade was done. I worked with the secretary and instigated the works. I was on the Scouts committee and the Romsey Primary School committee, and the committees for the school’s and Romsey Uniting Church’s 150 year celebrations. I was on the Romsey and Lancefield Rotary Club for a few years, until my health started to go.
I was involved in the writing of the book When memory turns the key – the history of the Shire of Romsey. Then I wrote Romsey: a veritable Garden of Eden. I was helped by several people. It was a great venture with a lot of people, it was a real team effort.
I’m very involved in sports. I played tennis and lawn bowls, representing the association that I was playing in. I helped raise money for new tennis courts and a new sports complex. I was also on the Romsey Golf Club committee.
You must have seen a lot of change in 84 years – how do you feel about it?
I’m happy with the development. We’re getting a lot of great people coming into the area – and they’ve taken over from the jobs I was doing. They’re doing terrific work, like the Romsey Region Business and Tourism Association (RRBATA). That’s a group that’s formed to improve the town of Romsey, and they’re doing a wonderful job.
Would you change anything about the town?
No, we’ve got to live with the times. Being close to Melbourne, it was always going to grow. It’s changed from a farming town now, which probably is disappointing, but there’s a lot of farming country in Australia. It’s developing and I’m quite happy with the way things are going. While we can, my wife and I don’t ever want to leave.
What do you like most about Romsey?
I suppose we’re divorced from most of the terrible problems in Melbourne. And it’s a community, I’ve got a lot of friends, and I just really enjoy living here. We’ve got great neighbours and just know so many great people.