Christopher Hanley was awarded Byron Shire Citizen of the Year at the Australia day celebrations at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Bowling Club.
Christopher Hanley was awarded Byron Shire Citizen of the Year at the Australia day celebrations at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Bowling Club. Marc Stapelberg

Strong community spirit on show at Byron

FORGET the beer and barbecues - the Byron Shire's official Australia Day celebrations were all about the power of community involvement and participation.

Mayor Simon Richardson commended all the reward recipients and highlighted the region's strong community spirit.

These sentiments were echoed by Citizen of the Year Christopher Hanley, who spoke eloquently about how the region was able to accomplish so much through the participation of individuals and organisations who gave their time, passion and found innovative ways to make projects come to life.

In 1995, Mr Hanley led a small group to establish the Northern Rivers Writers Centre.

Two years later, they ran the first Byron Bay Writers Festival, which has gone on to have an annual turnover of $1 million.

Yesterday's guest of honour, John Moriarty, enthralled the room with his ambassador address, which included personal tales of rising through the ranks to see the world as well as his deep connection to indigenous culture and land.

There was an audible gasp as his long list of advocacy, literary, business and community honours were read out.

Mr Moriarty highlighted the opportunity all Australians had to learn from each other and the vast cultural and historical knowledge to be found in community group's right across Australia.



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