Meander Valley Voices: Councillor Anne-Marie Loaders Journey Embracing Meander Valley's Heart

Posted on February 29, 2024

Councillor Anne-Marie Loader didn’t choose Meander Valley; however, after meeting her husband and moving out to his Montana farm 10 years ago, it seems Meander Valley has well and truly chosen her.

Councillor Anne-Marie Loader didn’t choose Meander Valley; however, after meeting her husband and moving out to his Montana farm 10 years ago, it seems Meander Valley has well and truly chosen her.

“I always jokingly say his cows wouldn’t have fit on my front lawn!” Councillor Loader laughs. “So it was off to the farm for me!”

Moving from the coast and marrying a farmer just on the cusp of a downturn in the dairy industry, Anne-Marie was introduced to the harder parts of farming very quickly.

“The downturn meant we were very much stuck on the farm,” she remembers, “But we were right under the Great Western Tiers, looking up at Mother Cummings Peak with Quamby Bluff off to the left. It was absolutely stunning. Just incredibly beautiful.”

“And I liked that you don’t have to go far for all the modern conveniences. You look at the environment out there and feel like you’re further away than you really are,” Councillor Loader said.

Looking back over that season, rough as it was, Councillor Loader is grateful for the community that banded together to forge a way through.

“It was hard for all of us, but looking back on that time I’m always grateful for how kind and caring the Meander Valley community is.”

“People have each other’s backs. They’re there for each other. And in a tough time that makes a big difference.” Councillor Loader smiles.

After downsizing six years ago and making Westbury their new base, Councillor Loader says there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

“I knew about the community in Westbury through my work at the library, and while there are so many other townships in Meander Valley that I absolutely love, we knew this was the right little town for us to call home,” Councillor Loader reflects.

Settling in and finding that feeling of home came quickly, thanks to a few residents who made her and her husband feel welcome.

“Working at the library meant I got to know even more of the community. And I’m a bit of a mother hen! I like to gather people up and take care of them.”

The decision to run for Council came as a surprise for Anne-Marie. When an issue came up that didn’t sit right with her or her community, she put her hand up to try and make a change.

“A few of us said, ‘Oh, you know, we should all stand for Council’. And I joked, ‘And I’ll stand for Mayor!’” she laughs.

“But then people turned to me said, ‘Actually, that would be a great idea. We think you should.’”

“And I decided, well why not? I’ll give it a red-hot shot.” Councillor Loader said.

Suddenly, a light-hearted joke became a calling, and Councillor Loader hasn’t looked back.

“It wasn’t the direction I thought my life would go in, but I do feel like I’m in the place where I should be. I love being a conduit for community and helping advocate for people.”

Reflecting on the future, as Meander Valley Council begins conversations around the next ten years as part of their Community Strategic Plan and Meander Valley Voices Workshops, Councillor Loader is excited.

“When I picture the future here, I think of the heritage of our small towns and building upon the beauty of the legacy we are tasked to continue to see thrive.”

“I see a place where people can walk and ride safely, more opportunities to enjoy this incredible place. I hope that we’ve grown our infrastructure to meet a growing demand, with sustainability at the forefront.”

“I want to see Westbury’s Valley Central full of businesses that care for our environment while also creating employment,” Councillor Loader continues. “I want enough jobs for everybody, and finding childcare isn’t an issue, neither is finding great doctors and medical care.”

“Farming continues to be a rich part of our community and economy, and we’re embracing new innovations in that space. The Meander Valley is a place where people dream of living, and it’s accessible for them to make that dream a reality.”

And how do we get there? Councillor Loader knows from experience it’s about coming together to see the future we want to see.

“Many hands make light work. And when we step out of our own little bubble and invite others to join us, from all walks of life, all generations, all backgrounds, I really believe we can create a thriving community that loves where it lives.”


Meander Valley Council invites residents to share their voice, values, and ideas on who we are and what’s important as a part of the development of their Community Strategic Plan. Meander Valley Voices Workshops will be held across the municipality throughout March and are open to all as we discuss how we should move forward into the future. More information can be found here.

Media enquiries: Melissa Straughan, Communications Officer, Meander Valley Council

E: P: 03 6393 5373