THE founder of a $2 billion company, a Brownlow medallist, a Grand Slam title-winner, and a world champion medallist – some great achievements have come out of the City of Joondalup.
And now their names have been immortalised in a Walk of Fame in the Joondalup city centre.
Michael Malone, Matt Priddis, Casey Dellacqua and Jessica Bratich Johnson attended today’s official unveiling, getting their first glimpses of their plaques that have been installed in Central Walk.
When Mr Malone graduated university, there were no internet providers in Australia. So in a bid to get internet for himself, he moved back to his parents Padbury home and founded iiNet in their garage.
“We got lucky because there was no one else around in 1993. No one really knew the internet was going to be a big thing,” he said.
“By the end, we had 350 phone lines running into a house in a cul de sac in Padbury,” he said.
“Three hundred and fifty phone lines, four staff, a double bed and a cat.”
Mr Malone’s mother even became their technical support.
“When people had issues, we would have Mum on the phone and we would talk her through it,” he said.
Two decades later, iiNet was worth $2 billion.
Mr Malone said he was “pretty excited” to see his name among so many greats in the Walk of Fame, which includes Justin Langer, Daniel Ricciardo, Greg Hire, Brian Bratich, Shaun Tan, Mike Hussey and David Hussey.
“I had no idea who else was being inducted and then I started to see the other names and it’s a bit intimidating,” he said.
He said the initiative was a good reminder of WA’s success.
“WA often understates its own impact. It’s easy to talk about how we fall behind but in things like the internet, we were at the forefront,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s great to pat ourselves on the back. It reinforces we are proud West Aussies.”
A humbled Priddis said while it was a “huge honour” to have his name on a plaque, it was also “really strange”.
“I just played footy and loved it from the age of seven,” he said.
He said having lived in the area is whole life, playing junior football for Sorrento-Duncraig and attending Prendiville Catholic College, the unveiling was a time to reflect and he looked forward to bringing his family to see his plaque.
A West Coast Eagle for 12 years, Priddis was the 2014 Brownlow Medal winner, adding to his Sandover Medal in 2006.
He also played in two WAFL premiership wins and in the Eagles’ 2015 grand final appearance.
Woodvale-raised Dellacqua, who flew from her now Sydney home to attend the unveiling, said she was “truly chuffed” to be honoured amongst “good company”.
“I think it’s a really great initiative to celebrate and recognise great things from all areas,” she said.
“And it’s really important to remember where you came from.”
Attending with her grandparents, parents, partner and manager, she said it was nice to be able to share the moment with those who played critical parts in her achievements, which include a Grand Slam mixed doubles title at the 2011 French Open, and fourth round singles appearances at the 2008 and 2014 Australian Opens and 2014 US Open.
She also represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate with the people who forged the way for me to be here,” she said.
“Padbury girl” Bratich Johnson, who now lives across the road in Hillarys, said she was “a bit surprised” by the honour but it was “nice to be recognised for my karate”.
“I remember there was a similar walk of fame at Hillarys Boat Harbour where a friend of mine had her name for karate so it’s nice to now have that same honour,” she said.
Flanked by husband and Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson, she joked it was “a nice feeling” to beat him into the Walk of Fame.
“He’s my plus one today,” she said.
Bratich Johnson, who started her karate journey at the age of eight in her dad’s dojo, has 30 national first places and 14 international medals to her name.
She was also the first Australian woman to win a medal at the karate world titles in more than a decade with a bronze in 2006.
Mayor Albert Jacob said the 11 inaugural inductees were “just the start” of the Walk of Fame, with the City to call for more nominations later this year.
“We are a relatively young City but we have many high achieving people making a significant impact at a local, national and international level in a range of fields,” Mr Jacob said.
“We want to be a place that inspires people. We never want kids to think, ‘I’m just a kid in the suburbs, I can’t get there’.”
The nomination criteria will include living or attending school in the City for more than five years, playing for a club in the City, being involved or recognised in business, the community or philanthropy, receiving awards elsewhere and having a media profile.
The idea for a Walk of Fame was first put forward by Deputy Mayor Russ Fishwick in 2014 to publicly recognise members of the Joondalup community who have achieved success at an elite level.
The plaques have been installed at the Boas Avenue end of Central Walk. There is also a QR code, which visitors can scan with a mobile phone to see profiles on all the inductees.