The Mirror News

We are Australian!

– Peter Lee Citizen of the Year

THE Corner Inlet district came together on Saturday for the 2019 Australia Day celebrations in Foster with a small, but enthusiastic crowd in attendance.

There was plenty to entertain the children and guests with a dog parage, Lego building, strangest looking vegetable competition, craft article on display and a decorated gumboot competition.

Official guests on the day were MP Danny O’Brien, and South Gippsland Shire councillors Alyson Skinner and Ray Argento with MC for the day Margaret Haycroft.

The official ceremony took place at 1.00 p.m. with the Corner Inlet Citizen of the Year awarded to Peter Lee and the Event of the Year going to the Foster & District Historical Society.

Peter has been a stalwart of the Corner Inlet community for over 20 years. After moving to South Gippsland in 1995, Peter planned to enjoy his retirement by going fishing and playing golf, but soon found himself heavily involved in the Toora and Welshpool communities.

His desire to give back to his ‘new’ township has never wavered. Even now, at the age of 89, Peter shows us that age is no barrier to being active in your town and loving where you live. He is still a committed volunteer, attending numerous meetings every month and is still very much ‘hands on’ in his local community.

Peter was heavily involved with the Toora & District Community Progress Association from 1996 to 2014. 

In 1996, Peter helped with the development of Toora’s much-loved Heritage Pear Orchard. On the day of the original planting, he rose early and dug each of the 90 holes by hand.

With encouragement from other Toora Progress Association members, Peter was instrumental in setting up the Toora Highway Market which ran from 1997 to 2005 raising an estimated $70,000 for the Toora community.

He was also an active member of the Welshpool Horticultural Society.

Peter has been involved on countless boards and event organising committees including the Toora Railway Reserve Parkland Advisory Committee, the Festival and Events Association, the Toora Writer’s Festival, King of the Mountain, Prom Country Challenge and the Toora Christmas Carnival.

Today, Peter is an active member of the Tarra Territory Tourism group and the Street Art Project Committee as well as vice president of the Friends of Agnes Falls where he advocates for improvements at the Reserve; liaises with various government associations and takes on the important duty of head cook on open days.

Importantly, Peter has been unwavering in his commitment to see Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve become a world class tourist attraction for all to enjoy. He has been instrumental in securing funding for improvement works at the reserve including the now funded Cantilever platform.

Peter has always been someone who won’t take no for an answer but will ask why not? and the Toora township is all the better for it!

Peter was certainly a humble recipient of the award, he spoke about how much Agnes Falls has improved and how many tourists visit the area because of it. With over 100,000 visitors to Agnes Falls over the past three years, Peter’s work has certainly paid dividends for the whole of South Gippsland.


The Society was awarded the 2019 Corner Inlet Community Group award for their ongoing promotion of the history of Corner Inlet and District.

Through regular themed displays, and permanent static displays, the Society showcases the growth of the area in a different and approachable way which has been enjoyed by both locals and visitors alike. The Society is also committed to the preservation of history through archiving documents and artefacts, and producing publications to bring the history alive and permanently kept for our future generations.

Volunteers assist countless people with enquiries, either regarding relatives or facts about the area every weekend of the year; tirelessly researching not just for the enquirer, but to add information to the bank of knowledge already gathered.

The Corner Inlet Community acknowledges the hours of work undertaken by the volunteers to our benefit not just the current generation, but those of the future.

President of the Society Meg Rogers accepted the award and said the Society is 44 years old and at present have 59 members, and 34 members volunteer to open the museum on weekends and school holidays, which is 1272 volunteer hours for the year.

She said they are fortunate to own the buildings and lease the grounds. The revenue is obtained from door entry fees and book sales, and the occasional grant.

Each year they have a major exhibition and this year it was on the history of the Franklin River, which coincided with the publication and launching of Neil Everitt’s book on the Hydro Scheme on the Franklin River.

The next major exhibition will open in March on the long weekend and focus on the incredible work of John Gunn, showcasing his photography and also his experimental process of taking photos with glass plates.

The Society also realized four years work in conjunction with the Foster RSL of placing an honour board in the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre of all the servicemen who enlisted in the old South Gippsland Shire for World War 1.

They also placed flags on the graves of all WW1 veterans on Anzac Day in conjunction with the Foster RSL.• From left, Shire councillor Alyson Skinner, Nationals member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien, Meg  Rogers representing the Foster & District Historical Society, Citizen of the Year Peter Lee and Shire councillor Ray Argento.


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