The stories behind our unsung Australia Day heroes 

They are the backbone of our towns and cities: hundreds of ordinary Australians doing extraordinary work for their communities. On Saturday, many were recognised with Australia Day awards. Here, Fairfax Regional Media presents just some of their remarkable stories.

WOLLONGONG: It's known affectionately at Thirroul Surf Life Saving Club as "Barrie's bible". The hand-written book records all the officials, bronze medallions, awards, club presentations and beach, state and world records in the club's history, back to 1907. It has been a labour of love for Barrie Stanford, who has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division.

NEWCASTLE: With strong historical links to the Hunter Region, it’s a natural fit for Robin Gordon to have a special interest in history, and her local community. She was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal for her part in changing the course of local history. Mrs Gordon has fought to save  Belmont Library and Belmont Hospital, as a founding member of the Friends of the Library Group and the Belmont Hospital Watchdog Committee.

BENDIGO:  Bendigo adventurer Linda Beilharz has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her service to the community and her polar exploration. This prestigious award caps off a big week for Ms Beilharz who was also named Bendigo Citizen of the Year. Ms Beilharz is the first Australian woman to trek across the world’s four largest polar ice caps.

LAUNCESTON: Canadian-born doctor Jane Zimmerman arrived at George Town in 1978 in a two-year locum role and decided to stay. For the past 35 years she has involved herself in the local community and put George Town on the world map through her work with Soroptimist International, a volunteer organisation that promotes the status and health of women throughout the world. It is an involvement that has seen her appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.

ORANGE: The organiser of Orange’s Community Event of the Year, Terry Davis, has praised the generosity of Orange residents who continue to support the Crusin’ Along Car Rally despite the proceeds benefiting cancer patients from outside the city. The car rally beat stiff competition to take out the gong on Australia Day. In the five years since it started the rally has raised more than $400,000 for the Western Care Lodge.

DUBBO: A Dubbo man plays a key part in putting a smile on the face of millions each year with his love of amusement rides.Max Andrew Laurie has received the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the community as part of the Australia Day ceremonies. Born on December 27, 1942, into one of the oldest carnival families in the nation, his passion for amusement rides was no surprise.

PORT MACQUARIE: Every four hours a mother dies during childbirth in Nepal alone, and no more than 30 minutes will pass before another Nepalese baby loses its life. Just days, minutes, or even seconds after taking its first breath. It is this devastating state of women’s health in developing countries, which moved Port Macquarie's newly named Citizen of the Year, Dr Ray Hodgson, to make a difference.

WARRNAMBOOL: The city's Australia Day citizen of the year, Peter Headen, thinks there are far more deserving recipients. Mr Headen said he was honoured and humbled to be recognised but was more than happy to continue his work out of the spotlight. Mr Headen said his motto had been to get up in the morning and do what he could to make a difference.

GUYRA: The famous fireworks priest, Father Anthony Koppman of Guyra, said he was "humbled" and "surprised" to be named Guyra's 2013 Citizen of the Year. Father Anthony, who was ordained as a priest in 2001, was a priest in Armidale and Moree before coming to Guyra's St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church four years ago. He's renowned for his Holysmoke fireworks productions but said his priest work was extremely important.

IRISHTOWN: Eighty-two-year-old Molly Spinks has spent her life at Irishtown. On Saturday she was recognised for a lifetime of giving to the region when she received the Circular Head Council citizen of the year award. Mrs Spinks helps out at the community centre, has supported the town's Tidy Town campaign and looks after many of the town's gardens. "I love doing it to keep the little town going, that's the main thing," she said.

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