ONE of Mareeba’s most well-respected community members was recognised for his service to the region recently as he was named a Far North Queensland recipient of the Order of Australia Medal.
Tito Sciani, 91, has had an extensive involvement in a number of charitable organisations in the Mareeba community, of which include being a member of Mareeba Rotary, St Vincent De Paul and the Catholic Church. “Mareeba is such a wonderful community and one that loves to give back,” he said. “I met many great friends in my time with those organisations and it is a time in my life I look back fondly on.”
Mr Sciani said winning an Order of Australia Medal is something he wasn’t expecting. “It was just something out of the blue, but it is a great honour” he said. “With regards to my service in the community, I am just a person who can’t say no, and I always loved to give a hand whenever it was needed.
“To the person who nominated me, thank you very much – it means a lot.”
Although he is one of the town’s most loved characters who now calls Mareeba home, you have to travel more than 14,000 kilometres to the town of Poggiridenti, Italy to completely understand Mr Sciani’s life story – and it is one certainly worth telling.
For most 12 year olds, that is the age in which they begin their high schooling years, not a cabinet making and joinery apprenticeship.
However that was the case for Mr Sciani, who began his apprenticeship in Italy in 1939 under the Mussolini regime, just two weeks prior to the start of WWII. “Mussolini was very tough but fair,” Mr Sciani said. “I was on 100 lira a month (Italian currency) and it would cost me 60 lira a month just for train fares,” he laughed. “But it was there I learned to work hard and to appreciate what you have.”
After more than 11 years applying his trade in Poggiridenti, in 1950 Mr Sciani embarked on a gruelling four week ferry from his home country to work on his uncle’s farm in Gordonvale, Queensland.
After nearly five years of farm work in Gordonvale and across the Tablelands, Mr Sciani decided to return to his trade, establishing his own carpentry business on the Tablelands in 1955. “Business was going great and we were getting a lot of carpentry work, particularly on farms,” he said. “At one point I had 17 employees, however it got to a point where it just became too much.”
The rest of Mr Sciani’s working life prior to retirement was spent as the owner and operator of the Jackaroo Motel in Mareeba from 1972 to 1994, before passing the business down to his son Henry. Mr Sciani said he has lived a wonderful and exciting life. It’s quite amazing how everything turned out,” he laughed.
“Mareeba has been such a great place for me and my family and I have had a great time here. “Now, all I can say is, ‘Thank God I am still here and in good health’.”
Mr Sciani’s Order of Australia Medal is not only a testament to the kind of man he is, it also acts as a great reminder of the crucial role the migrant community has played in helping shape Mareeba.
Caption: RECOGNISED: Tito Sciani of Mareeba was awarded an Order of Australia Medal on Australia Day for his lifelong service to the region.