Pepper honoured in rural achievement & community awards
The late Robert “Bobby” Pepper has been recognised as a semi-finalist in two of this year’s WA’s Rural Achievements and Community Awards.
Mr Pepper was a respected and well-known Aboriginal man, with many talents, who died while shearing early in November.
He was a senior Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer in Geraldton, and found fame as a shearing legend with talents in fencing and sandalwood harvesting.
Mr Pepper was integral in helping not-for-profit Mhunga Whalla Incorporated — which he founded — to organise the first Indigenous Mid West shearing camp.
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Mr Pepper’s son, Jesse Bellottie, said he was honoured to receive his father’s semifinalist awards.
Mr Pepper was a semifinalist in the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Economic Development award and the Prime Super Business Achievement Awards.
Mr Bellottie said his father introduced him to sheep mustering camps in the Murchison, which his grandfather Tom Pepper Jr was involved in.
The family plan to spread Mr Pepper’s ashes at Zuytdorp Cliffs north of Kalbarri.
Mr Bellottie wore a “loud” western shirt style and a broad brimmed hat at the awards evening, like Mr Pepper.
“He loved his country music, and could sing ‘Bird on a Wire’ backwards,” Mr Bellottie said.
“But more so, he loved his family and the many people he inspired.”
WA Labor MLC Darren West said it was fantastic to celebrate regional people at the annual awards in such a challenging year.“I don’t believe there is a city-country divide, we are the most urbanised State in Australia,” he said.
“I would like to encourage people to move out to the regions.
Mr West said the WA economy was the shining light and had actually grown.
“WA is the most envious place in the world — the key message is we are working together,” he said.
“I would like to make a special mention to a special person we lost this year from the agriculture
said Mr Pepper was a larger than life personality with the best stories and best jokes.
“He was fittingly a semifinalist in the regional and community awards,” he said.
“Bobby brings about that spirit that is us, as people who prefer to live in the regions.”
Introducing Mr Bellottie to receive the awards, master of ceremonies Noel Brunning said Bobby was loved for his extraordinary nature and big smile.
“His work on the State Brrier fence, the sandalwood collection and the Mhunga Whalla shearing school was to be commended,” he said.
“He was an extraordinary community man,” Mr Brunning said. “I am glad to say that Jesse carries his dad’s love for beautiful bright shirts with a little bit of style.
“He would be very proud, Jesse.”
Mhunga Whalla secretary Bree Vanden Bergh said it was certain Mr Pepper’s legacy would continue through the Aboriginal corporation.
“This is true with all his other dreams for young people and their future,” she said.
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