COMMUNITY MAN: The Tara community will say farewell to rural fire brigade leader Bobby Peck this Sunday at the Wieambilla Country Club.
COMMUNITY MAN: The Tara community will say farewell to rural fire brigade leader Bobby Peck this Sunday at the Wieambilla Country Club. Contributed

Farewell to Tara community crusader, Bobby Peck

WHETHER it was battling bush fires, building a place for locals to meet or driving school kids down to a Swans game in Sydney, Tara's Bobby Peck was behind his community one hundred per cent, selflessly giving decades of his life to a town he was proud to call his home.

A lifetime Collingwood Magpies supporter and rural fire fighting ambassador, Mr Robert Peck, better known as Bobby, was born in Traralgon, Victoria in 1943.

He moved to Wollongong as a young man and went about establishing himself as a respected business owner with three successful butcher shops to his name.

After suffering a heart attack the night before his 30th birthday, doctors urged Bobby to pack up, leave the stress of business life in Wollongong and move to the country.

He quickly settled in Tara with his wife Pat and their five children in 1983 and within no time at all Bobby found himself settling into the quieter country life.

After the couple bought a block of land near Tara and proceeded to build a house they quickly realised how vulnerable the region was to fire.

Bobby worked with council and managed to get the roads widened and turned into fire breaks and he was also responsible for getting multiple rural fire brigades in the region off the ground including the Wieambilla South Rural Fire Brigade and the Bennett Road Rural Fire Brigade which are still going strong today.

He had a deep love for Tara and wanted to see the community reach it's potential.

"He was a good husband, a good father and a good community member,” Mrs Peck said.

"He maintained that you couldn't live in a community and have something negative to say about it unless you were prepared to get off your backside and help make it better,” she said.

Bobby fought long and hard to get bitumen roads and electricity for the subdivisions around Tara, the latter of which finally happened in 1991 and both he and Pat were behind the creation of the Wieambilla Country Club.

"We realised the community needed a space where the whole family could come and enjoy social occasions together as well as a place locals could come together and meet up,” she said.

"So he managed to get the council to front the money to buy the block of land and we built the country club and then paid council back and that's how the country club came to be.”

Pat and Bobby ran the club for several years while Bobby was first officer and training officer of the rural fire brigades throughout the 2002 fires before his health began to take a turn in 2004.

"Even after he had to take a step back from running the show, Bobby still took a keen interest in both the country club and the rural fire brigades,” Mrs Peck said.

"Bobby also helped initiate the fire levy with council. At that time rural brigades had to have money to purchase all their appliances and build their sheds.

"Through Bobby work all the rural brigades managed to get enough money for their appliances and sheds and the levy still continues today which makes it easier for the volunteers to spend their time fighting fires than spending time trying to raise money to keep it going.”

Bobby, a passionate AFL fan, also managed to find the time to introduce his beloved game to country schools around Wollongong.

"When he turned 35 he bought a big bus and he'd take that around to the schools and pick the kids up and take them to training and games as well as Sydney Swans games in Sydney,” Mrs Peck said.

Bobby leaves behind wife Pat as well as four of his five children Michelle, Leah, Rachael (predeceased), Roberta, Warren and Richard.

Tara and the rural fire brigades will be giving Bobby a send off at one of his favourite places in the world, The Wieambilla Country Club on Sunday, July 14 at 1pm.

Friends of the great community crusader are all invited to attend.