I was thrilled to be asked to cover the recent Keep Australia Beautiful National Tidy Towns Awards, which were hosted by our very own 2015 winner Toodyay, and held right here in the stunning surrounds of the Avon Valley in WA.
Held in the historic Memorial Hall, which was transformed into a veritable wonderland by Sean from Christmas 360, and members of the wider local community (complete with dripping festoon lights, table settings of native flowers, and moss coloured chairs!), these awards aim to recognise communities who actively undertake to improve the environmental health and well being of their towns and landscapes across Australia.
The awards include categories such as Waste Management Resource Recovery, Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Education, and Community Action and Well Being (to name just a few), with nominations being drawn from across the country. Category awards were given to towns from as far away as Orange (NSW), Horsham (Vic), Liebig (NT), Roma (QLD), Triabunna (Tas), and as close as Albany, right here in WA (once again, to name just a few!), with the overall winner for 2016 going to Triabunna in Tasmania.
A beautiful dinner was served as guests listened to inspiring speeches from the Hon. Kerry Sanderson AO, Governor of WA, and the Hon. Albert Jacob MLA, Minister for Environment, as well as guest speaker Rhys Williams and past winner representative Greg Warburton, amongst others.
From a technical viewpoint, it was a challenging event to shoot, due to low lighting inside the venue, contrasty stage lighting, and some heavy colour casting. But these things help create the lovely dreamy, celebratory mood of an event such as this, so wherever possible, I left my flash off, bumped my ISO up to 3200 - 6400, and opened the lens up to F1.8.
I think the results are just delightful, and I hope that all those who contributed to, and attended this amazing event feel I have done justice to their hard work and vision. Congratulations rural Australia, you have done it again...