OFF-ROAD: The Warwick Clean Up group is set to fold, with final member Graham Buchner stepping down after almost 30 years of tireless community service. Picture: Jessica Paul
OFF-ROAD: The Warwick Clean Up group is set to fold, with final member Graham Buchner stepping down after almost 30 years of tireless community service. Picture: Jessica Paul

Buchner puts his feet up after decades of community service

IN HIS 80 years, this local legend has devoted huge amounts of time and energy into cleaning up and supporting the Warwick community.

However, after almost 30 years keeping the town’s streets tidy and manicured, Graham Buchner has stepped down as the last surviving member of the Warwick Clean Up Group/

“It’s 28 years we’ve done it for, mowing that piece on the Brisbane highway, but now that I’ve turned 80, my wife reckons I should retire,” Mr Buchner said.

“I formed the Warwick Clean Up Group 28 years ago, and we had quite a number of people doing it with me, but they got older and less physical, or passed away.

“So, I was down to a group of one, the last man standing, which is why I chose to do that patch of the highway heading out to Brisbane.”

Mr Buchner said the initiative came from humble beginnings, when he would pick up rubbish around Leslie Park while his granddaughter played on the swing set.

“I got a few mates together after that, called a meeting, and eventually got a good rollout there,” he said.

“We had about 30 people at one point. They picked up the rubbish and I used to go through it all, segregating the aluminium and plastics, to give some to Endeavour and make sure nothing ended up in landfill.

“It was thought of pretty highly by a number of our prominent businesses, and about three years or so ago they got together and bought a new mower for me, about $30,000 worth.

“That shook the socks off me.”

Warwick’s business sector was far from the only group to recognise such dedication, and in 2005, Mr Buchner was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the Warwick community through tourism, road safety, and local events.

At 80, Mr Buchner remains involved with 14 organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Warwick Horse Trials, and is president of the Leukaemia Foundation Warwick branch.

Unable to give up mowing for the community entirely, Mr Buchner plans to keep the 2km stretch of lawns around his own block manicured for the safety and enjoyment of his neighbours.

“People do a lot of walking around here, and I’ll do the footpaths so they don’t have to walk on the road,” Mr Buchner said.

“The mowing regenerates me, rather than flattens me, because I enjoy the appearance once you’ve finished.

“I get a kick out of doing it, and I’ve never felt it was hard. I might be able to do it when my wife’s not looking, but I’m not too sure about that one.”