Community pays tribute to retiring council worker

The Karalee and Barellan Point community banded together to throw a retirement party at Joseph Brady Park for Ipswich City Council worker Mark Strong.

Field Worker Mark Strong has spent the past 42 years driving his tractor up and down their neighbourhoods mowing the grass, maintaining fields and footpaths in their suburb.

Mr Strong was overwhelmed by messages of thanks from the community at the gathering.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people over the years and they’ve become friends,” Mr Strong said.

“When I first started mowing out here 40 years ago there were about 50 houses, now there are more than 5000.

“It felt really good to be appreciated by the people I wave to and have a chat with and to see them in the one place all at once was really special.”

Barellan Point resident Susan O’Sullivan and her neighbour Marie Kavanagh decided to pull a party together for Mr Strong when they heard that he would be retiring this month.

“I am happy to have had the chance to be part of this celebration to farewell Mark and wish him and his wife, Denise, a happy retirement and to meet his replacement George, and welcome him to our community,” Mrs O’Sullivan said.

Dr Kavanagh said Mr Strong is a hard worker and a valued member of their community.

“He is the friendly face and a great ambassador of the Ipswich Council and it was special that the Mayor and council representatives also came,” she said.

Some of the messages from residents written in cards for Mr Strong included:

‘When my sons were young and we heard the tractor, we would go and stand on the footpath and Mark would always give the boys a wave.’

‘Happy, healthy retirement. We will miss you and your precision mowing.’

‘As a resident I have known Mark for 15 years. He is a hard worker and a true gentleman.’

‘Mark has seen each of my babies come home from hospital and the eldest is in his 40s now.’

Division 4 Councillor Kate Kunzelmann, Ipswich City Council Field Worker Mark Strong and Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding at Mr Strong’s retirement party

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding thanked Mr Strong for his commitment to the Ipswich community.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with Karalee and Barellan point residents, and to celebrate Mark’s achievements,” Mayor Harding said.

“Mark has become a much-loved member of the local community through his diligence and kindness over the years.” 

Division 4 Councillor Kate Kunzelmann

Seeing residents come together to thank Mark for his service to the community shows how well he represented council.

I enjoyed meeting Mark and his wife, Denise, along with the opportunity to make connections with the residents who attended and listening to their suggestions for improvements in their treasured local area.

Division 4 Councillor Russell Milligan

An important function of council is maintaining Ipswich’s grassed areas which Mark Strong has done for more than four decades in Division 4.

He is a credit to Ipswich City Council and we wish him all the best on his retirement.

Mr Strong said he has spent more than 45,000 hours in one of the eight different tractors he has been assigned over the past 42 years.

“I would only stop to have smoko or lunch which was always under a big shady tree,” Mr Strong said.

“I would put on the radio, get out my meat and salad sandwiches and bottle of water and sit back against the tree to enjoy the solitude of it all.”

When Mr Strong sat in one of his favourite spots, surveying the cut grass around him, occasionally a Barellan Point, Karalee, Colleges Crossing or Chuwar community member would drive past and give him a wave or walk by and stop for a chat. 

“I’ve worked with a lot of good people at council and I have met a lot of good people out here on the road and though I might not see them as often, they will still be my friends.”

Mark Strong with his replacement on the tractor, Ipswich City Council Field Worker George Achire

Mark Strong (right) with some of his colleagues

Ipswich City Council workers maintain:

  • More than 600 parks
  • 276 sport and recreation facilities
  • More than 7,330 hectares of reserves
  • About 62 kilometres of footpaths and bikeways

Council’s mowing resources include:

  • 14 mowing crews
  • 24 tractors
  • 19 ride-on mowers
  • 14 walk-behind mowers

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