LANCE Netherway, born and raised in Quantong, had his suspicions about who wrote about him for the Queen's Birthday Honours, but he won't say who.
It was a surprise when Mr Netherway got the letter for his honour and a nice one as well, with his 80th birthday on June 11.
"I was stunned," he said.
"I thought who the hell put this together?"
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Sadly, the birthday bash had to be postponed due to restrictions, but Mr Netherway celebrated his birthday and his Queen's Birthday honour with a small dinner with family and lifelong friends.
"It's something I've never dreamt of," Mr Netherway.
"You go through life, and you do all these things and work with some beautiful people.
"For this to turn up is quite exciting."
He said being awarded the Order of Australia Medal made him "look in the rearview mirror."
"You don't forget about what you've done but it certainly makes you reflect back," Mr Netherway said.
Though Mr Netherway left school at 14, he went on to work tirelessly for water in the Wimmera Mallee region.
"Water is life," he said.
"If you go back through history, a lot has happened in the Wimmera Mallee and a lot has evolved around water."
Mr Netherway was with the Murray Darling Basin Advisory Committee for 13 years and chair for Wimmera Catchment Management Authority for five years.
One of Mr Netherway's proudest moments was the development of the Northern Mallee pipeline, which was developed in 2004. Other than his wife of 58 years, Sandra and their children.
"In 2002 when I chaired the water authority, we basically ran out of water," he said.
"All those families were given a 5000-gallon tank, and that got filled once a month.
"We'd be in dire straits at the moment without it."
Mr Netherway spent his life dedicated to his family, farm and community.
His family farm out in Quantong, his grandfather Chris Netherway started it with fruit farms. The area was once home to acres and acres of fruit farms.
"Quantong was one of the first irrigation settlements in Australia," Mr Netherway said.
"It was all just fruit trees and an enourmous amount of vegetables."
Mr Netherway and his wife moved into their home in the early 1960s. Mr Netherway said he still enjoys getting up and working.
"I built this house when we got married 58 years ago," he said.
"I never really did think about old age, but I'm lucky enough to get up in the morning and want to go to work.
"I'm supported by the family to do that."
His family always supported Mr Netherway, even when he had to take long trips to Canberra, where he would leave at 3am and return the next day with only "a suitcase of dirty shirts and underwear."
He said being a community-minded person is a part of regional life.
"Most country people are," Mr Netherway said.
"It's a part of your social life in a way. It's a part of the betterment for your family, your community and operation.
"It's very satisfying."
There are many sayings Mr Netherway has heard over his lifespan; he said one that stuck, which explains his proactive life.
"There was a lot of proverbs and old sayings when I was young," he said.
"The first group get out off their bum and make it happen, the second group sit around and watch it happen, and the last group say 'what the bloody hell has happened?'
"It's a matter of making it happen."
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