By Kirra Grimes
“INVALUABLE,” “a legend,” and “a wonderful ambassador for Bass Coast” are some of the words that have been used to describe Bass Coast Shire Council’s long serving events coordinator on the eve of his retirement.
Frank Angarane is set to hang up his hat at the end of the month after 43 years in local government across the former shires of Korumburra (1977- 1982) and Bass (1982-1994), and finally, the amalgamated Bass Coast shire, in roles including engineering, construction, and maintenance, and most recently, events, tourism and visitor services.
Acknowledged throughout the events sector and by his industry colleagues as one of the best operators around, there’s no doubt Frank’s absence will be felt by the many community groups and local businesses he’s “bent over backwards” to help out over the years.
From Phillip Island’s internationally renowned Moto GP, to the shire’s popular New Year’s Eve fireworks show, and a huge number of grassroots events, Frank’s been there to make sure things run smoothly from start to finish, often going well beyond his official duties, pulling up his sleeves, and literally lending a hand, with everything from setting up equipment to crowd control.
Officially, he was responsible for assisting organisers with the nuts and bolts of event planning and operations, including risk management, and obtaining the necessary permits.
But for the born-and-bred Wonthaggi-ite, the job was much more about the broader impact on the community.
“Events play a really important role in the local economy, from a tourism perspective – we’re the second most tourism reliant economy in Australia, so it’s really important that we have good outcomes,” he said.
“For me, the milestone has been the Moto GP – that’s where I got a really quick grounding in event management, at the first events [of the current series] in around 1997.
“It now contributes around $30 million to the local economy. And that’s a community I live in and I’m part of, so I get to share in the benefits of that.”
Bass Coast Shire Mayor Brett Tessari said these sentiments shone through in Frank’s work, which inspired those around him to give back, including his own daughters, Ella and Tess, who also both work in local government.
“Frank is one of those guys that brings a team together; he makes you a better person; you want to achieve more for him,” Cr Tessari said.
“He has been a crucial part of the team for so long and someone I have had great talks with over my time. He will be a massive loss to the organisation; hard boots to follow.”
More well wishes are sure to flow in over the next couple of weeks, as 65-year-old Frank prepares to transition to a new phase of life, full of grandkids, golf, and (eventually, post-COVID) his long-time passion of globetrotting.
Here are just a few messages from recent weeks:
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott:
“Frank’s invaluable contribution to the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix goes unsurpassed. “He has always played an integral role in ensuring we put on a safe and enjoyable event for all fans and the residents and businesses of the Bass Coast Shire, and his knowledge, commitment and devotion to the event will be sorely missed.
“We hope Frank will now enjoy the event as a valued fan and have the opportunity to see the amazing work his years of dedication has achieved.”
Cape Paterson Surf Life Saving Club secretary and Cape Aquathon coordinator, Nicole Cowley:
“Frank has been an invaluable support to our club running the Cape Paterson Aquathon each year.
“He always made himself available to answer questions, attend meetings, be present on race day and delivering equipment. His support, encouragement and enthusiasm to grow the event was very much appreciated, and we wish him every success and happiness with this next chapter of his life.”
Wonthaggi Business and Tourism Association acting president, Terry Earl:
“Frank’s been an immense help to the WBTA. When the planning all started for the Wonthaggi Street Festival, about six years ago, he came to every meeting, and gave us heaps of advice and assistance.
“If it wasn’t for him, early on the piece, we wouldn’t have been able to get anything started.
“For the last three years, we’ve run a festival every year, and Frank’s been an incredible help, not just with planning but also with getting stuff from council to use, setting things up, packing things up… I’ve always been impressed by the fact that he was so hands on and doing so much of it on his own. He’s definitely going to be missed.”
Hills Are Alive Group co-director and festival programmer, Aidan McLaren:
“From the very start, more than 10 years ago, Frank was one of the first people we asked for support and advice on how to run an event in the local area.
“Now, we’ve run more than 20 festivals in the area and they’ve all grown bigger and bigger.
“Frank’s always been open to what he can do to support us and help make it happen, and how to work things out with council; and always with a really positive attitude.”
“He’s been a great asset and a great support to us. We really appreciate it.”
Former Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Pamela Rothfield:
“Working with Frank whilst on Council has been a delight.
“His dedication to the local community combined with a tremendous work ethic and sense of fairness, underpinned by a wicked sense of humour makes Frank one of the best known and best loved identities in our region.”
Bass Coast Shire Council CEO, Ali Wastie:
“As council’s CEO, I have had the pleasure to see the great work Frank and his team deliver for our community, especially in supporting our local and international events.
“Frank has been a wonderful ambassador for Bass Coast, both within our community, across the sector and through his relationships with event organisers and the tourism industry. Frank has been with Bass Coast for nearly 30 years, which is testament to his commitment to the role and his passion for serving the community. Good luck in retirement, Frank!”
And Frank had a message of his own, both for his former colleagues and for anyone considering a career in local government:
“A long career in local government has given me plenty of opportunities and I’ve developed significantly because of it – in my 43 years, I’ve probably had half a dozen different careers, and it’s been very fulfilling; I’ve been satisfied all the way through.
“I’ll always be grateful for the first opportunity I got at Korumburra as a graduate engineer, and the boss there at the time, Ray Walls.
“Over the journey, I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people, and I still do.
“That’s the only downside to moving on: the people I’ve worked with have become family, and it’s sad to think we’ll be less connected, but we’ll still stay in contact.”