A few weeks ago I was fortunate indeed to spend a few hours on a chilly Spring morning with the Barossa Young Ambassadors – a group of talented, engaged young people from our region who are participating in this very important, and uniquely Barossan programme.
The Young Ambassador programme was established in 1999 (evolving the earlier Vintage Queen competition) with the aim to ensure the future leaders of the Barossa have opportunities to undertake training and networking within their community, pair with local mentors to develop a project of their particular interest, and actively participate in hosting and promoting the Barossa Vintage Festival each year.
Following a lively morning discussing the Barossa’s European and Indigenous cultural heritage, and exploring my beloved village of Krondorf, I felt a sense of security that the future leaders of the Barossa are so engaged, so curious, and so enthusiastic about our region.
I reflected on the fact that these young people are at the beginning of their journey of community involvement, and I was reminded of a memory from last year.
In the second half of 2019, I was invited to speak at the AGM of the Tanunda Show Society.
Before my presentation began, the Chairman, Paula Menzel lead the meeting in observing a full, laden minute’s silence. That minute of silence was to remember and honour the contribution of Mr Warren Grocke, who had been a steward in the sheep section of the Tanunda Show for 46 years and had passed away a short time before the AGM.
I had never met Mr Grocke, but as I stood there in the Tanunda RSL Hall, surrounded by folks with their heads bowed and their eyes closed in remembrance, I felt incredibly moved.
I still remember the dense sense of respect and gratitude that hung in the air over that small group of people.
In the Barossa, we don’t stand solely on the shoulders of giants like Angas and Kavel and the formidable women of the Seppelts family.
We stand in good part on the shoulders of men like Mr Grocke, who made a contribution over half a century.
We stand on the shoulders of six generations of ordinary men and women who lived their lives committed to their community.
Quiet individuals who gave without fanfare or accolade.
If you are inspired by the memory of Mr Grocke, or the example of the Young Ambassadors, then take the opportunity to get involved in your community.
There are fantastic volunteer-run show societies all across the Barossa who need enthusiastic assistance.
A Herculean effort is brought to bear on the Tanunda Show hall every year carting a few lazy kilometres of trestle tables into formation – I’m quietly confident that a few fit volunteers would be warmly embraced for set up and pack down. There might even be kuchen.
The Barossa Vintage Festival is currently calling for volunteers to help bring this essential community event to life again in 2021 – call Elaine and get your hands on a snazzy T-shirt and the knowledge that you’re contributing to one of the Barossa’s most important and longest running cultural celebrations.
There are main street committee across the region who prune roses, tidy parks and finish up their mornings with a coffee and a chat – a picture perfect way to spend a morning, if you ask me.
If a wildler version of nature is your thing, get in touch with the Barossa Bushgardens and lend a hand.
Choose something that’s important to you – reconciliation, youth services, aged care, sustainability – and get involved.
Start with a week and see if you can make it to 46 years.