MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Emerald Showgrounds Caretaker Robert Cotterell.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Emerald Showgrounds Caretaker Robert Cotterell. Kristen Booth

Passion for the people

KEEPING campers happy is what keeps Robert Cotterell going to work every day.

Mr Cotterell has been the caretaker of the Emerald Showgrounds for three years and, throughout this time, has developed a passion for the people and his role.

"I love meeting the people,” he said.

"The best part of the day is going around collecting at 4-5 o'clock - it's their happy hour, and I can't get around without talking to everybody, I love it.

"It's the highlight of my day, going around talking to people. I have met some interesting characters and watched some interesting backing in.”

The 68-year-old retired from 23 years in a saw mill in Victoria and was travelling around Australia, when he decided to visit his daughter in Emerald and stumbled across a job opening.

Mr Cotterell and his trusty offsider, Auga, decided to stay and now spend their days patrolling the show grounds and getting to know the visitors as he is invited for a cuppa at each campsite.

The passion Mr Cotterell has for his job can be seen throughout the well kept grounds.

If you have been to the showgrounds recently, you would have noticed the number of gardens popping up, which Mr Cotterell said he created for the people.

"I've made all these gardens up since I've been here, just to make the showgrounds look like a showground, that's all it is,” he said. "I've got all these vegies in now, and they're for the caravan people, available for them to use.

"And when it's out of season, people from town can come out and take what they want.”

A pumpkin patch is in and watermelons are in the pipeline for later in the year.

"I love building gardens, I have done all my life,” he said.

The showgrounds cover a big area, and Mr Cotterell said maintaining the space was a 24-hour job, "but it's fun”.

"It's flat out, but I don't mind. The busier I am, the better I feel,” he said.

"Thanks to all the caravan people, without them this just wouldn't exist. Without them, I'm buggered.

"I've met lovely people, and I've never had anyone grumpy with me - well not to my face.

"What they bring in revenue into this town is just phenomenal.”