Katie Topp spent her childhood in suburban Melbourne, riding horses, hoping one day she would become the quintessential country girl. In 2019, Katie and her mum moved to Daylesford, making it a reality.
These days Katie draws, crochets, bushwalks, plays guitar, but above all she cares for the community. All at the ripe old age of 25. Katie’s dedication led her to being awarded Young Citizen of the Year.
Describe how 2022 has been as Young Citizen of the Year?
It has been quite a busy year for me! Amongst the many highlights I would include walking in the Daylesford Chillout Festival parade with Riding for the Disabled (RDA). A number of the volunteers and riders got dressed up and marched through the town blaring the Rawhide theme song from our float – it was such a blast to represent RDA so loudly and proudly.
I also graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Master of Cultural Materials Conservation, which was so rewarding after all the hard work that went into my degree – especially during COVID distance learning.
On top of this, I got a job at Sovereign Hill working with the horse department. My volunteering experience with RDA Daylesford really helped to give me the opportunity to work there and I am loving it!
Any tips for the 2023 recipient?
The award is given to people who have already done great things in the community, so I would say just keep doing what you’ve been doing and enjoy every minute of it.
Working at Sovereign Hill, describe your perfect day.
There are many different tasks that we do on any given day from harnessing and hitching horses into the coach to cleaning stables and picking up lots of poop! One of my favourite jobs is taking a horse down the main street to meet members of the public. I love watching people’s faces light up when they see one of our lovely horses, and I can get some cuddles with the horse at the same time!
What’s the weirdest thing you have seen a tourist do?
One of the things that people do a lot which I think is quite funny is wave at the horses while they are pulling the coach. It always makes me imagine what they would do if the horses raised a hoof and waved back like in a cartoon, and the mental image always makes me laugh!
What is your earliest memory of Daylesford?
We frequently came to Daylesford on holidays throughout my childhood and teenage years – my earliest memory of Daylesford is visiting the Convent with my family when I was little and thinking how magical the site was.
What advice would you give your 12 year old self?
Don’t be ashamed of your weirdness, enjoy it and have fun.
What do you wish you had more time to do?
EVERYTHING! My interests are so wide – video games, reading, writing, drawing, crocheting, crafting, bush walking, playing guitar… I could go on!
If you were a hashtag, what would you be?
What advice do you have for people wanting to make a change?
Change is scary. At any age. Relatives thought we were mad moving to the country. But in the city, everyone’s in a rush, they’re too busy to be nice. Here, everyone has time for a chat. We proved those city folk wrong.
Nominate an Outstanding Person or Event for a Community Award
Young Citizen of the year is awarded on a similar basis to a person aged under 25 years.
Community Event of the Year is awarded to an individual or group who has staged a significant community event within Hepburn Shire during 2022 which has had significant benefit for the Shire.
More information including award criteria and nomination forms are available on the Council Community Awards website. A list of previous winners of the awards is also available for those interested in the sorts of contributions which have been recognised in the past. Further inquiries can be directed to Rebecca Smith, Manager Governance and Risk. Nominations close 5:00pm Thursday 24 November 2022.
The awards will be presented during a Civic Event on 25 January 2023.
Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.