Ongerup OAMs return

By Chris Thomson | posted on June 22, 2018

HUSBAND-and-wife Order of Australia Medal recipients Barry and Jan Savage have moved back to Albany after more than 40 years living, working and volunteering in the small Great Southern town of Ongerup.

Since the Ongerup and wider Gnowangerup community threw the couple a farewell in March, the couple has been tidying up personal affairs in anticipation of their big move to Bayonet Head.

“We’re in Albany full-time now,” Mr Savage told The Weekender this week.

Last year he received an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his prolific volunteer work as an ambulance officer, firefighter, and board member of Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre – among a string of other community roles.

Mrs Savage, who for 12 years served as Gnowangerup Shire President, received her OAM in 2005 for services to the shire and community.

In 1975 the couple moved from Albany to Ongerup to run the local tyre shop.

In Ongerup they raised a family and took on the school bus run.

Their recent return to the South Coast does not mean an end to their active community involvement.

“I think it’s important,” Mr Savage said.

“I’m doing a couple of [ambulance] shifts with St John’s, and I joined the local over-55 bike group and go riding every Wednesday.

“Jan’s joined the local book club and is still involved with Justice of the Peace work.”

On top of that, Mr and Mrs Savage are still active with the malleefowl centre, which ensures regular visits back to Ongerup.

“We’re going up this week for a Yongergnow meeting,” Mr Savage said.

Last week, the Yongergnow-Ongerup Community Resource Centre asked locals not to ride motorbikes or drive on tracks near the malleefowls’ enclosure, as a chick had died recently after possibly being frightened by a passing vehicle.

“What happened to it, whether it got spooked and ran into the fence, we’re not sure,” Mr Savage said.

“They’re becoming a little bit of a problem.

“The breeding success rate was a little bit too good.”

This year, Yongergnow malleefowls Maggie and Drei bred like billyo, producing no less than 19 chicks (‘Malleefowl love nest’ , March 30).

“We’re having a bit of trouble giving them all away,” Mr Savage said.

“We’ve got to get EPA approval for where we can put them.”

Asked if having too many chicks to find homes for was in some ways a nice problem to have, Mr Savage said: “It certainly is unique”.