AS Warrnambool’s reputation and size grew into one of Victoria’s most liveable regional centres, Murray Murfett and Alby Lewis were working quietly in the background.
Between them they have boosted health standards, cleanliness, responsible pet ownership and holiday enjoyment for tens of thousands of locals and visitors.
However, along the way they’ve had to calm a few tense tempers over parking fines or rowdy tent gatherings.
Yesterday, they farewelled workmates at Warrnambool City Council and headed off into retirement.
Their departure takes the total service of veteran council employees to have retired this year to about 120 years.
Mr Murfett, 60, had been manager of health and local laws for 27 years while Mr Lewis, 67, had been manager of the city’s two foreshore caravan parks for 25 years.
Under Mr Murfett’s guidance, immunisation levels were raised to the highest in Australia, formal food handling courses introduced for milkbar operators and community attitudes on littering improved.
He was born and educated in Terang before leaving to take up his first job as a cadet health inspector with the City of Keilor at the age of 18.
From there he went to St Arnaud as the health inspector and weights and measures officer to cover six municipalities for eight years before going to Warrnambool.
“Our family was attracted by Warrnambool’s beach and rivers,” he said.
“Proposed fluoridation was an issue then and there were a few opponents to immunisation.
“One of the things I helped address was the lack of opportunity for training food handlers, so the council started courses.”
When he arrived it was not uncommon to find dogs wandering the main streets off leashes and leaving their droppings on busy footpaths.
Mr Murfett’s team has helped educate the community to take more social responsibility for their pets.
Unfortunately, in the human population he’s noticed an increase in obesity along with the increase in fast food consumption.
For Mr Lewis, retirement means more time to spend at home and travel during holiday seasons rather than his frantic 24/7 lifestyle as park manager.
“They called me the mayor of the foreshore,” he said.
“We can have up to 5000 people staying at the parks at one time.
“Warrnambool has so much going for it for summer holidays because no matter what the weather is there’s always something to do.”
Mr Lewis was born and raised in Beaufort and got his first job as a post office clerk before going into compulsory national service for two years.
Then followed a 20-plus year career owning and driving trucks out of Ballarat.
Several years of summer family holidays in Warrnambool gave him a sniff of the seaside to which he returned in 1988 as manager of Surfside One park, then operated by the local foreshore corporation.
He stepped straight into peak times for the March long weekend followed by Easter.
“I did the first stint all on my own — it was a very busy lifestyle, but I’ve loved it,” he reflected.