IN the face of such adversity, Murrurundi's pride and spirit has shone through with the country town named this year's Most Sustainable Community at a recent state-wide awards presentation.
Murrurundi was named the overall winner of the iconic Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Communities Tidy Towns Awards for 2019 at a dinner in Cessnock on the weekend.
The award was just one among eight great wins and highly commended for Murrurundi, Merriwa and Upper Hunter Shire.
Murrurundi also won the Environmental Communication Award for their '100 Mile Dinner' project and the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award for their local drought relief program - 'Doing it for Our Farmers'.
Upper Hunter Shire Council bagged the Environmental Communication Award and the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award while Scone Public School wasawarded the Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award for their Beverages for Benefits program.
Highly Commended went to Merriwa for the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award, recognising their Bugger the Drought event.
Upper Hunter councillor Josh Brown attended the event and spoke highly of the Murrurundi community, their courage and spirit.
"I think the driver of the success of these awards is the work of Justine Cooper and the Doing For Our Farmers team," he said.
"I think that was what really impressed the judges and that was an example of what actually worked for us, which was that in spite of some really adverse conditions and challenging times, the community remains really positive and sticks together and we support one another.
"It's that positive vibe that impressed the judges so much," Councillor Brown added.
The awards, hosted by the 2018 winner, Cessnock City Council, were held at Pokolbin Hall and recognise the sustainability initiatives of regional communities across NSW.
They followed a program of local tours, category award announcements and case studies of inspiring communities.
Councillor Brown said every little bit of recognition helps at the moment, with the community currently suffering through Level 6 water restrictions during the drought.
"Whilst this award isn't going to provide another bale of hay or put extra food on the table, I think it provides a little bit of a morale boost," he said.
"It will also encourage those people who are doing so well already to give them a little bounce in their step because it provides state-wide recognition that they're doing a superb job and they do make a difference."
Murrurundi will now be representing New South Wales at the national awards to be held in Alice Springs in 2020.
They will also be hosting the NSW awards in 2020 which will provide a welcome boost to the economy and enable them to showcase their town to outside visitors.
"It will give us an opportunity to showcase what we do so well because it doesn't matter if it rains for the next twelve months and the drought ends, our town will still be doing the amazing positive things which make it such a great place to live," Councillor Brown added.
Tidy Towns on ground assessor Doug MacDonald said Murrurundi demonstrated all key values of the awards program across the width and breadth of the community.
"Murrurundi stands out as a community that is fully engaged and supportive of each other," he said.