Monday, September 25, 2023

Nhill icon’s honoured

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Nhill had the honour of having two locals bestowed with an Order of Australia medal (OAM) in the King’s birthday honours announced on Monday. Hindmarsh Shire Councillor Rob Gersch for his service to local government and to the community and Kevin Bye for his service to lawn bowls and the community. Rob has been a councillor for Lowan and Hindmarsh Shire Council for 39 years.

Other accolades over the years include Rob being a reserve member of Nhill Fire Brigade from 1959-1985, including serving as a Second Lieutenant from 1973-1977. Rob was made a life member in 1980. Rob has also served as a former chair of the Wimmera Development Association, a committee member of the Nhill Back To celebrations, and Nhill Duck and Jazz festival, as well as being an umpire of the West Wimmera Cricket Association since the 1980s.

Rob said a highlight of his service as a councillor included the naturalism citizenship ceremony of 19 new citizens in Nhill in 2013. Rob said it had been an honour serving as Shire President and Mayor of Hindmarsh Shire 7 times.

Rob and Marian owned and operated the Commercial Hotel and Zero Inn Motel in Nhill from 1986 to 2004 and Rob also worked for over 30 years driving a concrete truck for Westmix concrete.

Rob has been involved in a number of local organisations including Nhill and District Sporting Club, Nhill Fire Brigade and Cr Gersch is also Nhill’s only Justice of the Peace and has been one since 1983. When asked who was the last Justice of Peace appointed in Nhill, Rob said he was 40 years ago.

Rob said, “One of the main things I want to make a point of saying to anybody, is awards like this are a partnership; there is no way known somebody can do this without the support of their partner and in my case, it’s my wife Marian. We have been married for 61 years and Marian has been in the business and bringing up 4 children.

“So the work that I do, and in a lot of cases she has had to fill in, I really want to make that point, it’s a partnership, and that’s for anyone receiving the award, not only me. I have had support from my family,” Rob said.

Rob said, ” I am very honoured to be awarded an Order of Australia and the point I really want to make is anyone involved in volunteerism and so forth, that especially when you have a business if I am not there that naturally, I’m with family. My family has been very supportive.

Nhill and District Sporting, I played and Marian played netball; she was the first life member of the Netball Club and she played for years; then we had the kids play, then the grandkids and in a few years again, we will have the great grandkids play.”

Rob has been a volunteer at Nhill and District Sporting Club for 67 years and is a life member of Nhill Football Club.

“The Nhill and District Sporting Club has been a very big part of my life, and then I played cricket and ran the Fire Brigade, so all these organisations have played a big part of my life.”

Rob commented that also Rural Councils of Victoria, Neil Jacobs was the CEO before John Hicks and I was Mayor at the time, we thought we didn’t get a fair crack of the whip. Rob served as Chairperson for 10 years and is still currently on the board. Rob said that was a government highlight as was the privilege of naturalising new citizens.

In conclusion, Rob said he has been very proud to be involved and support the community on a volunteer basis. Rob said I have always lived in Nhill, and when people say why do I live in Nhill, I say three words “Quality of life”.


Kevin Bye has represented and been a member of a number of community and sporting clubs including Nhill Bowling Club where he has been a member since 1961. and became a life member in 2006. Kevin is the longest- serving member for over 62 years.

In 2012 Kevin was awarded with an Outstanding Services Award from Bowls Victoria. Kevin has won 34 lawn bowl championships at club, association, and regional levels.

Kevin has served as President of Nhill Bowling Club from 1974-1976 and 2000-2001.

Secretary 1967-1971, 1979- 1982 and 1988-1995.

Kevin also served as a Bowls coach for 28 years, which included coaching school children as well as several members at Cooinda and the day centre for many years.

Kevin also coached nearly every club in the Wimmera during his years serving as a coach.

Kevin has been a Freemason with the Lowan Lodge for 49 years and will celebrate 50 years as a member in September.

Kevin has been the longest serving/ standing member of the Nhill Bowling Club, and he said I have always loved administration, serving at Nhill Probus as treasurer for 6 years in his 20 years of service. As well as a committee member and secretary/ treasurer at Nhill cricket club and committee member and secretary at Nhill Football Club.

Kevin has also been a member and church steward at Nhill Uniting Church for over 35 years.

Kevin said he remembers the first time he started playing bowls, 25 years old, which was quite young in that day. Kevin said he remembers the first time he tried his hand at bowls; unheard of in those days, most players were elderly gentlemen or businessmen.

Kevin said, “The reason that I took up bowls during the harvest break of cricket, is I played cricket I loved cricket, I still love cricket. Each year between the middle of December and the middle of Jan, was the layoff for the harvest break for the farmers, so I was free; we also used to go to Shirley’s parents for Christmas dinner and my parents for Christmas tea. So, one night my dad said to me, let’s go for a walk. He could see I was unsettled. He could see there was something wrong and I didn’t say anything, so away we go.

We called into the bowling Green, I was completely oblivious to what was going on, so I just tagged along, and he got all his gear out, and he put down a couple of bowls, try yourself out; I said okay, I picked up one of Dad’s bowls, I didn’t know where it went but not so good. The next thing, I thought this isn’t too bad at all.

I was still working, I used to go after work for a few days, and it came to Saturday the 7th of January. I said I am going to take this game up, put my name in and, and have been there ever since.

Kevin said, “When I started playing bowls, Rainbow, Jeparit, Dimboola, Nhill, and Kaniva had 100 members in each club; Goroke and Edenhope clubs came later, and now each club struggles to get 60-65 members.

Other community involvement includes volunteering as a taxi driver for the Nhill community for over 5 years, volunteering at the Nhill Tourism Information Centre for 3 years and delivering meals on wheels for several years. Kevin was also a foundation committee member of Lowan Sport Centre.

A big thank you to my family and my wife Shirley, who has supported me during all my years of volunteering.


Nhill Free Press & Kaniva Times 14 June 2023

This article appeared in the Nhill Free Press & Kaniva Times, 14 June 2023.


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