Updated: Sep 28, 2022
✦ Saturday the 27th August marked the return of the Wauchope and Hinterland Business Awards with a gala dinner held at the Wauchope RSL Club. The Awards celebrate local business and the night is tribute to every local business owner and workers who strive to build a better lifestyle for us all.
The Awards acknowledge the determination and commitment of local business. With 37 announcements on the night, 17 Highly Commended and 20 Winners, the awards proved a wonderful opportunity to reconnect and thank our business community.
The Wauchope Chamber wishes to thank all entrants for participating this first year back, the judges and sponsors, the helpers and personnel working behind the scenes and thanks to the event suppliers who made the night such a magical experience. Special thanks goes to Alex Glen-Holmes, the amazing MC for the night!
From the Dignitaries
“A sensational night with Wauchope’s best businesses. The energy in the room was electric as everyone came together for the first time in two years. The organisers did a sensational job."
“Small business is the backbone of the Port Macquarie Hastings economy. People of all ages and occupations make a real, tangible difference to their lives and the lives of others.
“The time, effort and energy they spend in making the Wauchope and Hinterland region a better place to live and visit, is truly wonderful.
“It was fantastic to see the efforts of so many businesses celebrated on Saturday, and I’m thankful for all of their services to our community.” Mayor Peta Pinson
“It was a pleasure to attend the Wauchope Chamber of Commerce 2022 Wauchope and Hinterland Business Awards to recognise our local businesses.
"It is an important opportunity to not only promote our local businesses but also showcase them to the rest of the region.
"We have some very innovative and dynamic local businesses here in Wauchope and the Hastings Valley and I was delighted to see so many of them recognised on the night.” The Hon Dr David Gillespie Federal Member for Lyne
From some of the Sponsors
“The awards were a credit to the Chamber. We really enjoyed the sense of participation from a happy crowd of business owners and staff.“ Robyn Flanagan, Wauchope Travel
"Brilliant-online has, from the start, been about making small businesses sparkle and be famous. Everyday we dream and imagine how to make our online magazine even more magical so our stories can interact and engage readers, and allow advertisers to connect with their communities and more than 35,000 readers. Brilliant is all about supporting our communities and creating the space and opportunities for businesses to engage easily with their communities.
"We had many proud moments applauding every single winner of the awards. We know their journeys, we have shared their stories so we know the obstacles they've been through. Brilliant-Online will continue to support businesses so our communities can thrive, and we want to be here year after year in the awards celebrating everyone's growth.
"We thank our bright and brilliant team - Commercial Executive, Chrissy Jones, our editor Ben Tirebuck, writer Yann Tyng, Graphic Designer Adan and Marketing Assistant Selena Hata.” Veronica Lind CEO, Brilliant-online
“It was an honour to win the Excellence in Retail and Excellence in Sustainability and be highly commended in the Outstanding Community Organisation category. Hastings Co-op is a long-time supporter of the business awards and the Chamber because showcasing and rewarding all of the amazing businesses in our community is vital to a thriving economy.” - Allan Gorton, Chief Executive Officer Hastings Co-operative
Some of the Winners
Hastings Co-operative Ltd
WINNER - Excellence in Retail
WINNER - Excellence in Sustainability
Highly Commended - Community Organisation
Hastings Co-op is becoming used to taking centre stage, after winning three state and
national IGA awards earlier this year, but Chief Executive Officer Allan Gordon says any
accolades they receive is directly due to the support of the local community.
“We celebrate the Excellence in Retail and Excellence in Sustainability awards with our
members and customers and thank them for their steadfast loyalty,” he said.
“We also share the good news with our dedicated staff, who are the backbone of our 19
businesses across the region.
“We have more than 400 employees who work incredibly hard every day to deliver excellent
customer service, build community engagement and make Hastings Co-op what it is today.
“Winning the two awards, and being highly commended in the Outstanding Community
Organisation category, means our customers and business partners appreciate the direction
we’re headed in, which means a lot.
“Thank you to members, customers, our wide range of suppliers and business partners for
contributing to our success.”
To find out more about Hastings Co-op’s family of businesses go to www.hastingscoop.com.au
Trent Gregory Erickson
Cross Land Transport
Highly Commended - Outstanding Young Business Leader
“Crossland Transport was born in the middle of COVID after my partner and I moved back to Wauchope after spending 18-months away testing the waters elsewhere. Having come from a mechanical back ground, diesel was already in my blood - anything with wheels and an engine I’m already all over it.
"After completing my mechanical apprenticeship, I sought adventure in other industries with trucks being where I landed. Being mid COVID, times were tough to even get an interview let alone a job. A local company I won’t mention their name, took me on board and put me through my semi licence and chucked me in the deep end.
"'Sink or swim' they said! This only lasted a few months as the day/night shifts didn’t go down with me too well, though I am very grateful of the opportunity that they gave me and the willingness to give young fellas a go is brilliant.
"After my short stint of line haul driving ended I had a small amount of money saved and I set about buying my very first set up, a 2 car gooseneck trailer to go behind my Ford F-350 I already owned. This only also lasted a short time before buying my first prime mover, a 96 Ford Louisville L9000. Since then I’ve bought and sold and worked my way up and only in August I purchased my dream truck, a gold 2009 T908.
"August 2022 will definitely be a month to remember for a long time that’s for sure! My first Road Train to hit the road, the purchase of my dream truck and runner up in the Outstanding Young business leader at the 2022 Wauchope and Hinterland Business Awards.”
Stuart and Alicia Johnson
Highly Commended - Tourism
Reptile Solutions provides awareness and conservation through WILD education!
Reptile Solutions guarantees an experience that is entertaining, educational and unforgettable! They provide the opportunity to interact with the animals, whilst learning interesting facts about where they live, what they do and what makes them so unique and special.
You will get the chance to get up-close and personal with a variety of reptiles including lizards, turtles, pythons and meet ‘Charlie’ the baby Saltwater Crocodile.
Stuart has had a lifelong background in wildlife, with over 20 years zoological experience specialising in snakes and crocodiles. Along with Stuart’s career in wildlife, he also has a background in first aid as a former paramedic in the Australian Defence Force. It's a combination of these two career backgrounds that drives Stuart’s passion for snake safety and awareness.
Reptile Solution’s focus is to help people better understand our very misunderstood
creatures, how to stay “snake safe” and how to avoid and treat a snake bite. Their educational shows promote awareness and support for our threatened species, and the audience will learn some interesting facts and get hands-on experience with our native wildlife.
Heff and Beth Williams
Epic Rides & Tours
Highly Commended - Tourism
Epic Rides & Tours (ERAT) is a Husband-and-Wife Partnership of Niels “Heff” Heffernan and Beth Williams. Heff had been forced to cease work, for medical reasons and Beth is vision-impaired.
From the start, it was intended to add to the local tourism industry, by including other local small businesses when possible. Heff and Beth negotiated with a café in Wauchope, and another in Beechwood, to provide a lunch or coffee/tea as part of the tours on offer.
ERAT has weathered the challenges of COVID restrictions, lockdowns, floods and an abnormally wet Summer of 2021 – 2022, and is still on track to achieving its goals.
The vehicles themselves are innovations in the target market. One has 2-wheel drive, the other has an electric winch, making them much more versatile than standard sidecar outfits. Because of these features, both vehicles are capable of off-road use, allowing a wider variety of ride types than offered by other tour operations. A list of “ready-made” rides is available, or custom rides can be arranged.
A collaborative approach is important to Heff and Beth. To this end, they are negotiating a co-operation with the Wauchope Historical Society and local cafés. This will add to the customer experience, as well as showcase to visitors what the region has in terms of history and hospitality, as well as scenic beauty, combined with a fun way to travel.
Heff and Beth believe Wauchope and the Hinterland has much to show visitors and holidaymakers. “A large proportion of our region’s best sights and sounds are largely unknown to potential customers," they said jointly. "The intent is to support local businesses wherever possible.” Heff and Beth firmly believe this policy is beneficial not only to the business community, but to the general community.
As already mentioned, ERAT offers rides which include refreshments from local cafés. This way, it is intended to display what Wauchope has to offer visitors. The quality of the many cafés is up to “big city” standard, and is something Heff and Beth believe Wauchopians should be proud of.
Mark and Lisa Baker
Wauchope Rural Centre
Highly Commended - Retail
Wauchope Rural Centre is your one stop farm, stock and pet supplies store in Wauchope. Operating since 1997, they are friendly and aim to be the only place you need to go to for your pet, livestock, horse and farm supplies.
“We’re proud to have developed relationships with many happy customers and look forward to continuing our work for years to come! We really care for the community that we are part of,” said owners Mark and Lisa Baker.
They know what it's like to be on the land, they have a rural property that rides the weather fluctuations the same way as others do. They know it's tough when there is no rain, and know that the Australian climate can be heartbreaking. They share those highs and lows with people as they come through their door each and every day.
“We hope we can give all our customers the most cost effective and economical way for them to provide care for their livestock and pets, and to manage their farms. Come and visit us at 218 High Street, Wauchope, email us, or pick up the phone and give us a call! Let us know how we can help you,“ said Lisa.
Lorissa and Ben
Highly Commended - Accommodation and Hospitality
Lorissa and Ben launched Baked Culture in early 2020 and quickly found their groove at the Foreshore Markets after a very successful debute appearance. However, with the COVID pandemic curtailing all future markets indefinitely, they quickly innovated to find a space they could sell their sweet and savoury artisan baked creations to locals. They opened Baked Culture in Wauchope to the delight of their now regular customers.
Lorissa's extensive Barista experience and Ben's passion for pastry have driven the success of the business. The small, but powerful team work tirelessly to provide the best baked goods in the region locals to enjoy along with some of the best coffee.
If your stomach is rumbling for some Baked Culture goodies, be sure to pre-order or call in early as they sell out fast!
The Art Sanctuary
Highly Commended - Excellence in Creative Industries
Vivianne was thrilled to receive the award. “Through creative classes, workshops, community events, private tuition and mentorships, I help clients (from budding beginners to professional artists) to improve their artistic and professional skills,” she told us.
With years of experience and a fun and gentle manner, Vivianne helps people unlock their creativity. By teaching students to embrace their own personal style, she guides and empowers them to express themselves with passion and confidence.
Having facilitated her first community art event in 2006, Vivianne has since run intergenerational workshops, sessions for youth affected by the fires, sessions for community and mental health support groups as well as receiving expert training in Creative Recovery in 2022.
“Over many years, whether through private tuition, regular classes or specialised community workshops, I have seen first hand the benefits of making art," she explains.
"With some gentle guidance, permission to be themselves and an inspiring, supportive space, people revel in expressing themselves. They often end up, not just with new skills and artwork, but with new friends, a sense of connection and a sparkle in their eyes.”
Vivianne works with the Wauchope Art Gallery as both curator and mentor for emerging and established artists in the region. She is currently developing a mentorship program and a subsequent group exhibition to be launched in 2023. Although Vivianne's private tuition sessions are booked up right now, you can still create with her! She has a Mixed Media workshop on September 25.
In her own artmaking, Vivianne is deeply curious and loves exploring various styles and media. Contemporary and fresh, her works are often rich in layers of colour, texture and meaning. All have a proudly feminine undertone. Having shown in over 40 exhibitions, Vivianne will next display her work alongside Michelle Redman and Yvonne Kiely in The Layers Within at the Wauchope Art Gallery in October. The trio will run events including a day workshop, artist talks and a grand opening on Friday, October 21.
Images courtesy of Chris Rockstroh
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