It is hard to think of a movement or campaign that has stirred such pride and action in our regional and remote communities as the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities program.
In 2019 Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities is celebrating 50 years.
Tidy Towns Awards, Overall WA State Winners
- 1990 Albany
- 1991 Paraburdoo
- 1992 Tom Price
- 1993 Paraburdoo
- 1994 Mukinbudin
- 1995 Denmark
- 1996 Denmark
- 1997 Denmark
- 1998 Bruce Rock
- 1999 Bruce Rock
- 2000 Wyalkatchem
- 2001 Bridgetown
- 2002 Wyalkatchem
- 2003 Collie
- 2004 Kojonup
- 2005 Collie
- 2006 Cue
- 2007 Walpole
- 2008 Kambalda
- 2009 Port and South Hedland
- 2010 Westonia
- 2011 West Arthur
- 2012 Port and South Hedland
- 2013 Walpole
- 2014 Toodyay
- 2015 Albany
- 2016 Greenbushes
- 2017 Kalgoorlie-Boulder
- 2018 Collie
- 2019 Bunbury
- 2020 Narrogin
Australia’s Tidiest Town Awards were introduced in 1990 and past national winners from WA are -
- Denmark (1998)
- Wyalkatchem (2003)
- Collie (2006)
- Toodyay (2015)
In 2015 Tidy Towns was a finalist in the WA Premier's Awards in the 'Managing the Environment Category' for excellence in public sector management.
50 Years of Tidy Towns - 1969 to 2019
The idea for the first Australian Tidy Towns competition was touted by the Western Australian Tourist Development Authority (WATDA) in 1968 to promote tidy and presentable towns the Tidy Towns Award program received instant success with 59 entries in its first year and the first awards in 1969.
Tidy Towns in WA emanated from an Irish project, ‘Tidy Towns & National Roadside Gardens Competition’ after R.H. Hiller, the Director of the WATDA was contacted by an agent from the Irish Tourist Board, based in Sydney. The agent stated they 'had problems much the same as your own in bringing about the development of transport, accommodation, amenities, and of tourist attractions, on the scale required by the traveller of today' and offered to share information on their own initiative and its well received success.
The Tidy Towns competition was launched in 1968 by the WATDA with the judging taking place from November 1968 through to February 1969. Four judging categories were set according to town size and prize money ranging from $400; $600; $1000; and $1500 (smallest to highest population size). The winning towns were announced in March of that year.
Unlike today, the inaugural competition did not stretch State-wide; metropolitan (not just regional) entries were accepted; and local government agencies (rather than communities) were the competitors.
Points were awarded after taking the following into consideration:
- effort involved and general cleanliness of Town.
- absence of litter and unsightly objects.
- appearance of Commercial and Residential premises.
- colour, colour harmony of all buildings.
- standard of fences and paved areas.
- appearance of lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs, etc.
- tidiness of private yards and blocks.
Some towns took the competition very seriously. One Shire, for example, circulated public notices to its townsfolk to elicit their support with ‘Depositing and Removal of Refuse, Rubbish, Litter and Disused Material’. A later notice was sent which stated that: ‘Some townspeople have made an effort to comply with Council’s suggestions while others have made no attempt whatsoever.’ An inspection of the town was undertaken, followed by enforcement of the Shire’s by-laws.
Backed by the Premier, Sir David Brand’s press statements, the first year of the Tidy Towns’ program was a great success. Fifty-nine towns entered, and due to the high level ofinterest shown, two judging committees were formed comprising representatives from Main Roads, the County Shires’ Association, Perth City Council, the Local Government Association and the Nurserymen’s Association of WA.
Competition winners were announced by the Honourable David Brand, MLA at a buffet luncheon at the Palace Hotel, on 17 March 1969. In order of smallest to largest town population, the winners were: Corrigin, Merredin, Medina/Calista, and Bunbury. Bunbury was also named the overall State Winner.
Over the years, there have been some changes to the competition including a broader environmental focus. Traditionally, the program focused on tidy streets, litter prevention and beautification. Now communities investigate and conserve assets such as their cultural heritage, bushland and rivers and limit their impact on the environment through recycling and resource recovery. The awards promote pride in communities, the protection of cultural and natural heritage values, and a sustainable future.
The benefits of involvement in the Tidy Towns program include increased tourism and marketing opportunities, increased youth participation, and community cohesion.