The late Donald Chisholm receives OAM in Australia Day honours list

HUGE HONOUR FOR FAMILY: In 2019 Donald Chisholm was appointed Parkes Rotary Club president at the annual Changeover dinner. He has now been named in the Australia Day honours list. Photo: Supplied.
HUGE HONOUR FOR FAMILY: In 2019 Donald Chisholm was appointed Parkes Rotary Club president at the annual Changeover dinner. He has now been named in the Australia Day honours list. Photo: Supplied.

The late Donald Chisholm, a former president of the Parkes Rotary Club, has been honoured with an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) in the Australia Day Honours List for his amazing decades service to a variety of communities across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Donald's wife, Valerie Chisholm, spoke to the Champion Post about what it meant for the family; reflecting proudly on the incredible life that he led.

"It is a big honour for us that Donald is receiving an OAM, though it is a little sad that he isn't here to receive it himself," said Valerie.

"We've been a pair of gypsies through our lives and Donald just wanted to be involved in the community no matter where we were."

Donald was born in leafy North Adelaide, South Australia, and was a talented Australian Rules player before moving to Victoria for work - where he continued to play football at VFL for Richmond.

He was well entrenched in the Swan Hill community in the 1970's before moving back to South Australia where he settled in Birdwood, in the Adelaide Hill; founding the Bay to Birdwood Run, reviving the National Motor Museum while being heavily involved in the horse, cricket and football communities in town.

After moving to the Central West in the 1990's, Donald and Valerie embarked on three decades of embracing the Cowra, Wellington and Parkes communities, and it was Wellington where Donald first became a Rotarian President.


They were Publicans at the Parkes Phoenix Bar and Central Hotel (Wellington) and managed motels such as the famous Astro Dish Motor Inn here in Parkes and the Bridge Motel (Wellington).

He was even the ringmaster at the Cowra Show throughout the 1990's, something Valerie said was as a result of the incredible passion he had for both horses and people.

However, nothing made him prouder than being a Rotarian, and receiving a Paul Harris Award (Rotary's highest honour for its members) just after his death was an emotional moment for Valerie because she knew just how happy it would have made him.

"One of Donald's proudest moments in his life was when he laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial on behalf of the Rotary," said Valerie.

"He would do anything for Rotary; stand at the gate and collect money, represent the club at events, and ensure members were highlighted for their efforts for the club and community."

When asked to describe Donald, because life is far more than a series of dot points that elucidate achievements, Valerie described him as someone who would just never let you down.

"He was a very hard working, honest and sensitive man; he was so proud to be an Australian by also very proud of his Scottish heritage."

And that is the mark of a man - not just the roles he might fill, but the way he fills them; and that is just why Donald Michael Chisholm receiving an OAM.

Community roles

Parkes Region

  • Manager, Astro Dish Motor Inn, 2015-2020.
  • Former Publican, Parkes Phoenix Bar.
  • President, Rotary Club of Parkes, 2000s.

Wellington Region

  • Former Director, Maranatha House.
  • President, Rotary Club of Wellington, 2000s.
  • Manager, Bridge Motel Wellington, 2009-2015.
  • Member, Junior Cricket Club, 2000s.
  • President, Wellington Eisteddfod Society, 2000s.
  • Master, Lodge Wellington Freemasons, 2000s.
  • Master, Lodge Dubbo Freemasons, 2000s.
  • Publican, Central Hotel Wellington, 1997-2009.

Cowra Region

  • Member, Rotary Club of Cowra, 1990s.
  • Justice of the Peace, New South Wales, 1993-2020.
  • President, Cowra Branch, National Servicemen's Association NSW, 1990s.
  • Ringmaster, Cowra Show, 1990s.
  • Member, Town House Cricket Club, 1990s.
  • Mason, Lodge Lachlan Valley Freemasons, 1990s.

Birdwood Region

  • President, Birdwood Horse Trials, 1990s.
  • Chairman, Publicity and Promotions Committee, The Bay to Birdwood Run, 1980s.
  • Former General Manager, National Motor Museum.
  • State Councillor, Community Aid Abroad (currently Oxfam), 1980s.
  • Vice-President, Birdwood Football Club, 1980s.
  • President, Mt Crawford Dressage Club, 1980s.
  • Committee Member, Birdwood Community Council, 1970s.
  • Secretary, Vice-President, and President, Birdwood Cricket Club, 1970s-1980s.
  • Co-Founder, The Bay to Birdwood Run, 1970s.
  • Former General Manager, The Birdwood Mill.

Swan Hill Region

  • Trustee, Swan Hill Racecourse Park Reserve, 1970s.
  • Committee Member, Swan Hill Jockey Club, 1970s.
  • Committee Member, Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, 1970s.
  • Secretary, Swan Hill Development Association, 1970s.
  • Treasurer, Mount Buller Nutcracker Ski Club, 1970s.
  • Committee Member, Swan Hill Pony Club, 1970s.
  • Former General Manager, Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill.

Australian Democrats: President, 1980s. Member, 1970s.

Awards and recognition include: Certificate for 200 blood donations, 2014. And Certificate for 50 years involvement in NSW Cricket, 2012