PROUD: Horticulture stalwart Brice Kaddatz has been bestowed with an Order of Australia medal this year.
PROUD: Horticulture stalwart Brice Kaddatz has been bestowed with an Order of Australia medal this year. Troy Jegers

BREAKING: 3 Gympie icons win national Australia Day awards

IT'S an Australia Day weekend to remember for three living legends from the wider Gympie region, who have found themselves named on this year's list of Australia Day award winners.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, horticulture industry stalwart Brice Kaddatz and Wondai community champion Elaine Madill have each scooped up prestigious national awards to mark decades of service to their communities on varying levels.

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Former Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss at the opening ceremony of the Gympie ARC.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has received the Companion of the Order of Australia award. Jacob Carson

Mr Truss, who served as Deputy PM from 2013 to 2016 under the Abbott and Turnbull governments and spent 26 years as National Party Member for Wide Bay, has been bestowed with the coveted Companion of the Order of Australia "for eminent service to the Parliament of Australia, particularly in the areas of trade, transport, agriculture, and rural and regional development”.

Mr Truss, who now lives in Hervey Bay with his wife Lyn, said he was proud to be included on the latest list of national award winners.

"It certainly is a great honour for me,” Mr Truss said. "I'm very pleased my years of service to Regional Australia have been recognised on this level.”

The former National Party leader said he was also happy to reflect on his work with councils in Wide Bay, Burnett and Kingaroy, along with stints as State Executive Member of the Queensland Grain Growers Association and earlier work with Rural Youth groups on a state and national level.

"I have always been active in my community and spent significant time working hard in support of that,” he said.

Elaine Madill is our Australian of the Year for 2017.
Elaine Madill has been honoured with an OAM. Michael Nolan

Commended for his long-standing service to horticulture, in particular his work within the macadamia industry, Mr Kaddatz said he was "absolutely astounded” to learn he would be receiving the Order of Australia medal.

"My initial response, and my wife could vouch for this, was that I couldn't possibly accept the award,” he said.

"It's way, way above my pay grade.

"But then I thought about it, and it's a very sincere feeling to be recognised in connection with rural producers and agriculture in our country.

"Farmers need every bit of support they can get, and I hope this can go some way towards achieving that.

"It's been my honour to serve our farmers.”

Mr Kaddatz' top honours include serving in the Australian Macadamia Society between 2011 and 2018, a stint as Field/Grower Liaison Officer for Suncoast Gold Macadamias from 2002 to 2015 and winning the industry's most prestigious honour, the Norm Greber Award, in 2015.

Ms Madill's outstanding contributions to the Wondai community netted her the South Burnett Citizen of the Year, South Burnett Regional Council in 2017 before the OAM honour this year.

Gympie Regional Council host official Australia Day celebrations and a citizenship ceremony from 9am at the Gympie Civic Centre as a free community event.

The celebrations will also include the presentation of the Australia Day Awards and will be followed by morning tea and music from a local artist.