Backchat with Urunga legend Jo Brotherton

Jo Brotherton, I Love Bello Shire, Bellingen, Urunga, Urunga Myelstom Chamber of Commerce, Urunga Lions Club,dorrigo national park, things to do, accommodation, bellingen weather

Quite simply, Jo Brotherton loves her town of Urunga and this love provides her with an endless amount of energy to inject into this thriving community. Most weekends you might catch Jo producing sausage sandwiches at the Urunga Lion’s Club stall at Urunga- always with a stunning flower behind her ear. We decided to interview this local legend and very quickly realised- she gets the job done.

Tell me about all the community groups you are involved in?
First and foremost, Urunga Lions Club (President) I am one of four founding members, who resurrected the club after it had ceased around 16 years ago. We serve Urunga’s community and aim to continually raise monies for the less fortunate, injured and the needy. We have a very strong and faithful team of 20 or so, of course we would love more. We are in our fourth year.

I’ve been with Urunga-Mylestom Chamber of Commerce for four years, (since we bought the business ‘Urunga’s Washing Well’) and I somehow took on the role Vice President. We are a wonderful and very active Chamber and there is always something exhilarating and inspiring do do for this town that we love.

I’m a very proud member of the Board of Open Arms Care, an organisation with branches for Disabilities Services in Nambucca, Ageing Services in Urunga and Children’s Services in Bellingen. We are very active and with the clients’ wellbeing at heart, are very busy and hands on with betterment and improvements for these people’s lives. 

This year I have been appointed to the Australia Day Committee, which I’m excited about because Urunga is hosting the upcoming event, January 2018.

The Urunga Wetlands Advisory Committee has come about since the completion of the Antimony Mine project and I’m part of that team whose priority is to maintain, sustain its development, and to provide an easy and comfortable place to visit, sit and take in the peace and quiet, the birds and flora.

I’m also on sub-committees from time to time. I like to keep in step with the ongoing beautification and growth of Urunga, and fortunately we have some terrific people in this town who have the ability to chase grants and the foresight and passion to keep Urunga’s uniqueness sacred.

Any big plans coming out of The Urunga Mylestom Chamber of Commerce?
Yes, we have the ongoing community consultation for the upgrade of Atherton Drive.

The Fun Run starts on 14th October and will take place every Saturday.

Urunga Wetlands will soon have public amenities, and places to sit and eat/rest, with plenty of scope for vegetation and community participation.

One exciting project is ‘Future Towns Program’ which has resulted in well-known artist David Bromley painting a mural of the facades of old style buildings on to the wall of the physiotherapy practice in town.

Another exciting project is “Creative Placemaking, funded by Bellingen Shire Council and supported by UMCC.  There will be five Pop up Events aimed at Youth.  Other creative groups will be encouraged to participate.

What will Urunga look like in 10 years?
A beautiful little seaside town, with facilities for both the local community and tourists to our town for walking, cycling, canoeing and more.

Will you ever run for Council?
No, I don’t think it’s for me.

Who works harder at The Washing Well. You or Pete?
When I’m there, it’s ME, when Pete’s there, it’s US!

With diplomacy like that- I think you are suited to local politics.

Your best sporting moment was?
I was a good swimmer.  In my early years 8 – 12, twice yearly Shell Age Group and School swimming carnivals would get me to Sydney to compete in State trials in all strokes. Every race I would come third to Karen Moras (2nd) and Shane Gould (1st). They were good times and we formed strong friendships at a young age.

What would you like to be remembered for?
My hostess-ship, and my support.

Friends say that you are?
Too good to be true!! Ha ha probably ‘loyal’ and ‘loving’?

What do you avoid in life?
Debt and conflict

You’re right- politics ain’t for you!!

What are you reading right now?
“Rise, Sister, Rise” by Rebecca Campbell. Pete’s daughter suggested I read it. My normal favoured genre is anything murder, crime, forensics.

What secret can you share with us?
I might get a bit more anxious than comes across.

If only……
I had a little more money in the bank.  But even more importantly-we had more members for our Lions Club.

What really annoys you?
People who break glass to get into my shop, break my door to get into my office, steal my cash, throw away my sets of keys (for no reason) and break my spirit. TWICE!

The best lesson your parents taught you?
To always be respectful of others, communicate honestly, and practice good social skills.

What project are you currently working on?
Creative Placemaking still has one opening left for youth or school kids to showcase their musical and/or dramatic talents. Urunga Public School has a 24 child choir going to School Spectacular, and it would be great if they could put on a concert here before they went, even with Bello High School band backing them – so both schools could share in the $1,000, which would help their transport/accommodation costs, or to purchase musical instruments….                                        

Who inspires you?
My father, even though he’s passed on. I strive to be half the person he was.                                                                                                                        

How do you relax?
In a recliner in front of the footy!                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Favourite shire eatery?
Anchors Wharf                                                                          

Best coffee in town?
I very rarely drink coffee but the best Chai Latte is made by me in my laundromat – want one?                                                                                                  

The previous career you wish you could forget?
I worked as a salesgirl in a wholesale place in Coffs. I was unfairly dismissed which is a shame because I thought I was pretty good!!                                          

Your current passion is?
Donate Life – organ donation.                                                                                            

Yes or No. Soap on a rope?
Yes – does that come in liquid form?

Yes or No. Two steps at a time?

Yes or No. Camping?

Yes or No. Good luck clothing?

Yes or No. Kissing on first date?

Jo and her partner in crime Pete at Urunga’s Washing Well



  • marlene griffin says:

    Hi Jo
    I am in awe and admiration for all that you do for your community . You are a treasure . Urunga is lucky to have you and your commitment to so many groups.
    Thank you to you and to your partner Pete.
    Marlene Griffin

  • Michael says:

    A true Urunga legend alright and wonderful woman. Jo does so much work for the community – she’s an inspiration !

  • Paul Davis says:

    Good on you Jo. You always had a glad heart. You are still very high amongst my favourite people.

  • Rod Macpherson says:

    You are a living legend Jo. Love your work and working with you.

  • Dee says:

    Have known this gorgeous woman since she was 13 and she has always been full of energy and certainly takes after her beautiful dad…Dr Mac. …. you are both legends Jo and hey I hope you won some medals for your swimming when we were at Ravenswood!!! Had no idea you came third to Shane Gould 👏👏👏💕💕💕

  • Truda Rail says:

    I always knew you were the sort of girl who would kiss on the first date. Much more courageous than me. That is the only thing I didn’t know in the interview which I loved reading. Mum and Dad were wonderful role models for us al and they would be very proud of you. You have had the dynamic energy to immerse yourself in your community. Never worry about being half the man Dad was. Your twice the woman. And you are every bit as committed as he was. P.S I am so proud of you too.

  • Steve says:

    A happy smile, an open heart and a willing pair of hands- always! Yes a true treasure in Urunga. Good one Jo 🙂

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