| Barossa Herald
ANGASTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA – Bill Biscoe, a former kiap, who spent some years in Simbu in the 1960s, said he was shocked, surprised and filled with humility to receive an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the Barossa community.
Since moving to the wine region 23 years ago, Bill, who resides in Angaston, has become a pillar of the community.
"When you move to a new place you're not part of the community until you do something, so we started getting involved with local community activities," Bill explained.
"I ended up working for Penfolds in the cellar door and that's what got me started with the Vintage Festival."
"I got interested, sat on the committee, and ended up becoming Chair of the Vintage Festival - which I did for six years. It went from there."
Since then, Bill's list of community contributions has grown long. With a keen interest in literary arts and film, Bill has been president and secretary of the Friends of the Barossa, publicity officer for the Barossa Film Club, secretary on the Barossa Arts Council, president and treasurer of the South Australian Federation of Film Societies.
In Angaston, Bill has been a co-ordinator of the Angaston Christmas Parade, member of the Angaston Business Alliance, and vice president and arts convener of the Angaston Show.
He was also a founding member and arts contributor of BBBFM radio since 1997 and is currently the curator of the Vintage Festival Archive. In just 23 years, Bill has given more time to the Barossa community than many do in a lifetime.
However, he sees his contribution as being small compared to what many other people do.
"I am so much in awe of what goes on around this community in terms of what people do voluntarily," he said. "I'm just very grateful to the way that the Barossa community has accepted us and made us part of the community and allowed us to join in with things."
When Bill and his wife Jan first moved to the region, they decided to invite their neighbours over for an ANZAC Day barbeque. They were pleasantly surprised by the results.
"I think about 80-90 per cent of them turned up," he said. I realised then that if you make the effort to step up and say something as simple as 'we're having a barbie come along' or you support the library come along or a cultural thing would you like to come. I really think it is extending the hand and 99 per cent of people will shake it.”
Bill grew up in India and moved to Australia in 1948. He went to school in Melbourne and Sydney and attended university in Tasmania.
He said that is time serving as a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea from 1959 to 1974 was the most interesting job of his life.
"I was in the highlands we did the patrols where we established contact with people who hadn't seen Europeans before.”
After returning to Australia, Bill eventually moved to the Barossa and in 2016 was awarded a Police Overseas Medal for his work in Papua New Guinea.