Local profile – Bill Waterston

By Craig Wilson.

BILL Waterston is Ararat through and through.

As Bill and I headed into Barkly Street for a photograph of him to go with this story (yes, in his trademark shorts – it was 4 degrees) you can see there is a genuine affection for Bill and what he’s done for his home town.

One person yells “g’day Bill”, another comes up and asks how Rhonda is? Another bowls up to Bill “good to see you Billy”.

People gravitate towards Bill and it is pretty clear why he gained such a high personal vote at the 2020 council election.

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William Waterston was born in Ararat 65 years ago years ago and it is the place he has always called home.

42 years ago he made what he describes as the “best decision of my life” marrying his soul mate Rhonda.

They have two children, Tahnee and Jayden and “a couple” of grandkids.

Bill wants what is best for Ararat, and nominating for council seemed like a way he could make a contribution.

“I’m very approachable and if I can do something to help, I will. I’ve always been like that,” he said.

“I love Ararat, absolutely, through and through.

“I love the people, I like being around the people, they’ve always been good to me.”

“My mum and dad grew up here, and Rhonda’s mum and day were also Araratians,” he said.

After two years serving on council, Bill told me he’s enjoying the role – in particular, the fact he can use his position to make decisions that benefit Ararat.

“I love being on the council. I’ve learnt so many things. I know some of the decisions we make don’t make all of the people happy, I understand that, but sometimes the tough decisions are the right decisions,” he said.

“Council is about people and we seven councillors have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people we represent.”

“Since I have been on council I have received hundreds of phone calls and if I can help, I certainly will,” he said.

Bill retired a few years back after working in the mental health sector, so becoming a councillor was a natural progression.

“I started off working here in the railways as a fireman and then at Araradale for 36 years out in the houses until they became private.

“I loved working for the railways but my party lifestyle didn’t fit in with the shiftwork,” he said.

Bill has been an active sportsman all of his life, which probably explains his high profile and recognition factor.

He’s an avid supporter of the Western Bulldogs, but at a local level he has always been involved in sport.

“I’ve played a lot of sport. Basketball, football, cricket, I’ve done 15 Pier to Pubs, bowls.

“I played a lot of basketball from aged 11 to about 35, represented the town heaps of times in state championships and club championships, and then I started coaching juniors. I love being involved with the kids and even now I referee when they are short.

“I coached umpteen kids for Ararat (football), I coached the under 17s to a premiership and I’m pretty proud about that,”

“The Ararat Footy Club before 97 didn’t have an under 14s competition and the President Gary Todd said to me ‘Bill, every kid knows you, do you think you can get an under 14 team going’.

“I said, we can certainly try and from then on it just bent bang, it was a huge success. The junior program (at the club) is just outstanding,” he said.

“I also umpired junior football for a lot of years, sometimes it was hard to get up early on a Sunday morning after a big night.

Bill’s sport of choice these days is bowls

“Love my bowls. I play with all my old footy mates at Chalambar and I just love it. It’s a friendly club with a bar,” he said.

One of Bill’s greatest achievements was the establishment of a skate park, named after him because of the mountain of work he put in.

He said it was clear Ararat youth needed something like the skate park to keep them out of trouble.

“My son kept coming home with $25 fines for rollerblading in the Safeway carpark and I thought, this is bullshit. So I met up with Henry Gunstone about 26 years ago and asked him what we could do.

“I had seen some skate parks around the state and it snowballed from there with a small committee of four or five people, Gwenda Allgood was with me. So we started fundraising with hundreds of sausage sizzles and cake stalls.”

“We were very lucky with a gentleman out the road at Willaura. Rowly (Paterson) rang me up one day, I had no idea who he was and he said Bill, can we have a chat about the skate park.

“I met with him at McDonald’s, we had a coffee, and he said anything we want we’ll get, including publicity on the radio and cash.”

“He was an amazing supporter, we also got $20,000 from Greg Kerr at AMP, $10,000 from the police and from then on funding from the state government.

“It was a lot of hard work, by geez it was, raising the money, but it was worth it,” Bill said.

“Gwenda Allgood was always on deck to help me with umpteen sausage sizzles and cake stalls, she would always be there with sausage rolls or cakes every time. Amazing lady.”

As for the future, Bill wants to see Ararat prosper.

“I want to see it grow, I want to see it develop, I want this to be a little hub that people want to come and visit, I want people to be happy and I want to see a vibrant main street,” Bill said.

“I also like to get away, I’ve got a mate who lives up past Port Douglas and we love going there. Rhonda also likes getting away but she won’t do the caravan thing.

“I want to go to Broome and she wants to go to Darwin. We haven’t decided yet,” he said.

Bill, who has almost never been spotted wearing a pair of long pants, also confirmed to me that yes, he did need to buy some long pants for council.

“I don’t feel the cold, but yes I did have to buy a pair. People have a crack about me always wearing shorts, but I don’t care,” he said with a smile.





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