Mossman advocate wins top Australia Day honours
ROY Gibson feared he might have been having a heart attack when Mayor Bob Manning announced his name as Citizen of the Year at Cairns Regional Council's Australia Day Awards.
"I was just in complete shock," Mr Gibson said from his Mossman home yesterday.
"I can't describe it. It was like a heart attack, it was that powerful and strong."
The Kuku Yalanji elder was nominated for his tireless work in bringing to reality his 30-year vision for the Mossman Gorge Centre.
It was growing up in a Mossman that Mr Gibson described as "violent" during the 1960s and 1970s that inspired him to build something productive to allow his people to show off the land's beauty.
"I knew in my heart that I would win the award," he said.
"I knew as soon as I got the nomination, because I could see the smiles on the faces of the people in the buses and on the faces of my people and I knew I got (nominated) for a reason."
Cr Manning said the award was a testament to Mr Gibson's patience.
"Mr Gibson worked with his community, the Indigenous Land Corporation and the State Government, to develop his concept into a spectacular reality," Cr Manning said.
"He was involved in many years of consultation and planning. He understood the need for patience but remained determined and the end result is an achievement he and his community can be proud of."
Among other winners were Young Citizen of the Year, Felicity Honnef, who was recognised for her contribution to a number of charities.
During the past two years the Gordonvale High School graduate helped 20 charities, spent a month in a Cambodian orphanage, sat on council's Youth Advisory Group, graduated with an OP2 and enrolled in a medicine degree at James Cook University.
The first-year JCU medical student said a fear of procrastination helped her achieve her goals.
"You can't look at time as an obstacle," Ms Honnef said about juggling her busy workload.
"Time isn't going to change. The only thing that you can change is the way you manage it.
"There are so many things that I enjoy doing and I am passionate about. I know that I have to make time to do them."
She hoped other youngsters would follow her lead.
"I didn't start out doing a bunch of different things, I just started out with one thing and then you meet other people and you do what they do," she said.
"All of a sudden you are doing all of these things and it's a lot of fun."
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Big day: Roy Gibson has been recognised for his Mossman Gorge efforts.