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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

25 July 2000

Family's 100 years of Weather Service shines bright beside Olympic torch relay

A local farming family which has been taking daily rainfall observations for the Bureau of Meteorology for more than 100 years will receive a special presentation as the Olympic Torch passes through the Goulburn Valley on Thursday.

Dairy farmer Mrs June Hill, 79, of Colbinabbin, will be presented with the Bureau award by the Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Dr Stone is the federal Member for Murray and has responsibility for the Bureau.

Dr Stone said Mrs Hill, whose grandfather started the family farm in 1858, was one of the army of unsung heroes who provided the Bureau with invaluable weather data. The information was the foundation on which the Bureau built its services, such as the special weather services for the Torch relay and the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Although there is a heavy dependence on technology such as satellites, radar and automatic weather stations, local information is immensely valuable in compiling the overall weather picture", Dr Stone said.

The Hill family first rainfall observation for the Bureau was taken in March, 1899, by Mrs Hill's uncle, Henry Toedteberg. Mrs Hill's father, Christian Toedteberg, took over the role three months later after Henry's death. She started to help with the observations after leaving school in 1936 at age 16 and took over the responsibility when her father died in 1967.

Mrs Hill, who married Clement Hill a former shire councillor in the region, remembers back to when her mother would cook a whole sheep every day to feed the workers, and in all that time she says the family "never missed an observation" for the Bureau.

Sharman Stone said that the passing of the torch relay through Northern Victorian towns like Colbinabbin gave local people a chance to share in the excitement of the 2000 Olympics in Australia. She said that the Bureau had invested over $4m in preparing for the Sydney Olympics through the installation of new weather stations, training for Olympic officials and weather reports to coincide with the torch relay's journey.

"As the Olympic Torch continues its journey around Victoria, the Bureau will issue two extra Torch-specific forecasts each day to help relay organisers, runners and spectators", Dr Stone said.

"We are fortunate to have tireless volunteers like Mrs Hill at Tatura, Bendigo, Maryborough, Castlemaine and Ballarat and right across rural and regional Australia who provide important information in developing these forecasts."

The 2001 Australian Weather Calendar to be released later this year will pay tribute to Australia's weather observers. They will also be honoured on World Meteorological Day next year (March 23), with the theme: Volunteers for Weather, Climate and Water.

Media Inquiries: Simon Frost
0419 495 468 or 02 6277 2016
July 26 2000

Commonwealth of Australia