Walk Tyson honoured with OAM for services to Bellingen Shire community

In March 2024 Wal was awarded Bellingen Shire Citizen of the Year Award. Bellingen Shire Councillor Jo Brotherton, Walter John Tyson, Mayor Cr Steve Allan and emcee Sue Lennox.

WALTER Tyson, a fourth generation Tyson on the Bellinger River, has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2024 King’s Birthday Honours.

The award recognises Wal’s services to the Bellingen Shire community.

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Fresh from being awarded Bellingen Shire Citizen of the Year in March 2024, for 65 years of outstanding community service to the region, Wal puts his achievements down to “doing whatever needed to be done”.

Turning 90 in 2025, Wal told News Of The Area that he grew up in a time “when everyone helped each other”.

“It’s just what we did,” he said.

Wal joined the Lions Club of Bellingen in 1974, becoming the group’s president in 1978.

One of his proudest achievements as a local Lion was successfully raising funds to build the first swimming pool in Bellingen

“We built the 25-metre pool which is still there in Connell Park.

“From its completion to today they run the learn to swim program.

“After it was built, we fundraised again to completely fence the pool.”

In the 1990s the Lions Club of Bellingen donated $5,000 to have a solar run security light put in.

A fisherman all his life, Wal found time in the early 1980s to get involved in organising fishing events.

In 1983 he became President of the Urunga Anglers Club and held the role for 40 terms, retiring in 2023.

“In 1985 we got a bunch of keen fishers together and created the Bellingen Eel Fishing Championships.

“We ran a school holiday program for children from the district.

“There was no Australian record for the heaviest long finned eel and we wanted to set the first one.

“My grandson, Joe Moore, hooked a 7.5kg eel on the first day; he waited all week and none heavier were caught so he set the first ever Australian record for a long finned eel,” said Wal.

A passionate beach fisherman, Wal negotiated with Bellingen Shire Council on restrictions for vehicle access on local beaches.

“I formed the Bellingen Shire Beach Vehicle Users Association which successfully campaigned to have access to vehicles on the beach at Third Headland, now named Wenonah Headland, south of Urunga,” he said.

A long-time member of the Bellingen Rural Fire Service, Wal has been awarded a 35-year badge and Life Membership.

He remembers the “very bad fires” of 1966 and 1968 when fires were fought with wet hessian bags and knapsack-sprays filled with river water.

“To have a knapsack on your back was the big thing, very different to today’s equipment.”

As a Lions Club of Bellingen member Wal has assisted with innumerable fundraisers and projects.

He remembers starting 50 years ago assisting with the Bellingen Show and later becoming the event’s “maintenance man”.

Wal is now looking forward to a “big year ahead”.

“My wife, Yvonne is also a prolific volunteer and in 2025 we both celebrate our 90th birthdays and we will have been married 70 years In July.”

Across the country, Governor-General David Hurley announced King’s Birthday honours and awards for 737 Australians, including awards in the Order of Australia (General and Military Divisions), meritorious awards and recognition for conspicuous service.

“I would like to congratulate all those recognised in today’s Honours List,” he said.

“Some names are well-known, but the vast majority are not – they are people who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a difference in our community,” the Governor-General said.


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