2021 Year in Review: Canberra means business

27 December 2021

Despite the ups and down, Canberra’s business community triumphed with tireless tenacity in tough times during 2021.

Women took charge in construction boardrooms, local start-ups showcased innovation and we said goodbye to the iconic Chisholm Tavern.

Take a look back at the local leaders who clearly showed Canberra means business.

10. Women dominating ACT building boardrooms

Shelley Mulherin and Grace Ferreira on building site

ACT Strata Community Association president Shelley Mulherin (left) and Master Builders Association of ACT president Grace Ferreira are leading the charge in the property and construction industries. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Women are sitting at the head of the table in many boardrooms around Canberra, with gender bias being thrown out the window in the traditionally male-dominated building, construction and real estate industries.

Grace Ferreira has been the Master Builders Association of ACT president for almost five years, and is the first female non-executive board member of Master Builders Australia in the organisation’s 130 year history.

She also sits on the board of the ACT Government’s Training Fund Authority and the ACT Regional Building and Construction Industry Training Council.

9. The Canberra startup changing the world one bottle of milk at a time

Dr Felix Weihs, Dr Stephen Trowell and Genevieve Sergeant from PPB Technology

PPB Technology’s Team (from left): Science and operations lead Dr Felix Weihs; founder and managing director Dr Stephen Trowell; and Australian Postgraduate Research Intern Genevieve Sergeant. Photo: PPB Technology.

A Canberra start-up has put world-first technology to work in order to ensure the milk we drink is safe.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to learn that Canberra is home to some pretty incredible start-ups, but PPB Technology is actually in possession of ground-breaking technology that is totally unique.

8. Ray White family takes a stake in Canberra real estate start-up Zango

Dan White

Ray White Manager director, Dan White. Photo: Supplied.

Ray White, Australia’s largest real estate group, invested in Canberra start-up real estate portal Zango.

It’s a significant indication of the impact Zango has had on the Canberra market.

Zango’s local values and focus on price have been a good fit for the company.

7. Sport set the wheels in motion for Canberra orthopaedic surgeon

Dr Damian Smith from InMotion Orthopaedics

Dr Damian Smith from InMotion Orthopaedics enjoys keeping up with the ever-changing technology in the world of orthopaedic surgery. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Sport has always been a huge part of Dr Damian Smith’s life.

He started as an athlete at the AIS before embarking on a career as an orthopaedic surgeon.

Now he uses robotic technology in knee and hip replacements.

6. Detlev’s smart homes changing the lives of NDIS clients

The Detlev's team standing in front of their van

The Detlev team is leading the way in home automation, changing the lives of the elderly and people living with a disability. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Home automation can change the lives of people with disabilities and Canberra-based Detlev’s Electrical has led the way.

The company has been working on some pretty big construction projects, but their home automation project has made a massive difference at a grassroots level.

5. Does Mal Meninga really work at MEJ? An investigation

Mal Meninga

Mal Meninga has been the face of MEJ Lawyers for 12 years. Photo: Adam McGrath.

Canberrans know Mal Meninga as a rugby league legend and the face of Maliganis Edwards Johnson, but is Mal a lawyer?

In the ads, you’d often catch a glimpse of Mal hard at work in the MEJ offices, standing in reception, or even meeting with potential clients.

Which left plenty of people wondering – what is his job there?

4. Sue’s big plans to bring South Coast cheese factory back to life

Sue Melotte sitting at table reading development application.

Sue Melotte is aiming to revive a historic cheese factory in Moruya, and add a microbrewery by the end of 2021. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Cheddar House in Moruya got a new lease of life as a cheese factory and microbrewery thanks to retired Brigadier Sue Melotte.

When Sue considered her retirement, she knew whatever she chose would have to be a passion; a project that would challenge, but not consume her.

The answer was to revive the Cheddar House.

3. It’s been a whole family affair to get The Markets Wanniassa up and running

Fiona Lester and James Lester with two children at The Markets Wanniassa

Fiona and James Lester with two of their nine children at The Markets Wanniassa. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Husband and wife duo Fiona and James Lester, along with their nine kids, transformed The Markets Wanniassa from a pop-up to a successful standalone business.

Four-and-a-half years ago, Fiona was busy on the market circuit but she began to tire of the routines of a regular stallholder.

From this frustration, the permanent and indoors The Markets Wanniassa was born.

2. An expansive country estate just for pets

Dogs at Tara Estate Pet Boarding

Tara Estate Pet Boarding is a fun-filled pet resort that offers boarding and grooming facilities for pets. Photos: Thomas Lucraft.

With a pool, lake, climbing apparatus, air-conditioned rooms and new friends to play with, Tara Estate Pet Boarding is the perfect holiday resort for pets.

Located in Pialligo, it’s a fun-filled resort for your best friend.

The pristine blue water at the facility’s lake even has a dock diving ramp, climbing logs and canoes for dogs to sit in.

1. Chisholm Tavern a COVID casualty after long battle to remain open

Chisholm Tavern owners Graham and Jennifer Hunt

Chisholm Family Tavern owners Graham and Jennifer Hunt say it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but they had no choice. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Finally, 2021 was the year the Chisholm Family Tavern closed its doors for good.

It was a difficult decision for owners Jennifer and Graham Hunt after a long-running battle against landlords and big business to remain open.

“It’s with sad regret that we will not be opening the Tavern doors again,” the owners wrote on social media.


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