Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove met a group of the Shoalhaven’s hardest community workers during their visit to the region on Wednesday.
Sir Peter and Lady Cosgrove were special guests at a community morning tea at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre hosted by Mayor Amanda Findley.
Their Shoalhaven visit comes on the heels of their stop over in Wollongong and Kiama on Tuesday.
“It’s great to be back in the Shoalhaven,” Sir Peter said “of course in my various roles I have been here many times before but this is my first as Governor General.
“My previous visits have predominantly been in an official capacity and were largely centred on the wonderful navy base at HMAS Albatross.
“This time it is great to be able to have the time to look at this incredibly beautiful region and meet some of its wonderful volunteers and workers.
“I see a very vibrant community, nonetheless just a little bit away from this built up area there are farmers, in particular dairy farmers, who are doing it a bit tough.
“One’s heart goes out to them but in here when you talk to people they are all aware of that and the sort of things that can be done to help.”
He said it was great to be able to meet so many of the Shoalhaven’s hard working volunteers.
“There are so many people doing so many amazing things within your community,” he said.
He mentioned the G.J. Gardner Variety Freedom home built here and auctioned for Variety, Rick Meehan and Fred Campbell OAM and their efforts in working for veterans and the driving forces behind Digger Day and also veteran Alan Rourke who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
“We meet here today on indigenous land - I must mention the loss of elder Aunty Ruth Simms’ son Alf recently and also pay respect to elder Fred Carriage, who did some marvellous reconciliation work, and also recently passed away.
“This area also does not forget Craig Dunn and Danny Lewis whose lives were cut short in the Bali bombings at which time I was Chief of Defence Force. The way they have been honored with a foundation in their names and the youth centre under construction in Ulladulla is superb.”
And Mollymook Surf Lifesaving Club legend and life member Ivan Johnson.
Mr Johnson has been a surf lifesaving member for 63 years, 60 of them with the Mollymook Club.
“I started at Black Head on the North Coast before moving south to Mollymook in 1960,” he said.
“I’ve stayed and been a patrolling member ever since.
“It was lovely to meet Sir Peter.
“It was very good and delightful to meet him in the flesh and I think he was interested to hear how we were going.
“He was a bit surprised when I told him we have more than 220 members making us one of the strongest country clubs in NSW.”
Sir Peter and Lady Cosgrove also met local student representatives from Nowra, Bomaderry, Nowra Anglican, Vincentia and Ulladulla high schools.
“It was great to meet local school children,” he said.
“I was impressed - I know some of those youngsters when they leave school head off to university - others stay and work locally, and some of them head of into the defence forces and with my background that puts a smile on my face. They are getting a great education here in the Shoalhaven and a great upbringing.”
The couple revealed their nephew lives in Ulladulla and had recently played a role as a Rural Fire Service volunteer in the Ulladulla bushfires.
Following the civic reception they headed to HMAS Albatross to mark the bases 70th birthday before heading south where they were to enjoy lunch at the Shoalhaven Business of the Year Cupitts Winery before also visiting the Murramarang Men’s Shed.
Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said it was fantastic to host the Governor General and Lady Cosgrove.
“It’s fantastic that so many of our community got to meet them,” she said.
“They were so generous with their time and engaged with our people - a wonderful experience for everyone.
“We wanted to do something to make it a memorable occasion - the best way to do that was to make it as casual and friendly as possible. People in Australia’s top jobs don’t often get the chance to let their hair down loosen the tie a little and get in and meet people.
“We aimed to get a large cross section of our community represented. They were not only representing themselves but so many others at the organisations at which they contribute.
“We have so many wonderful community members in our city.
“It was really great to have Sir Peter and Lady Cosgrove here - a real buzz; and more so to see the interaction between them and locals and the genuine joy of Shoalhaven residents as they met this great man and his wife.”