Thoughts from the DG - Week 3
For the past week or so, we've been in Dorothea Mackellar country in and around Gunnedah - it sure is a heartbreakingly sunburnt country at the moment. We've had the drought; and now we need those flooding rains. They are used to both out here, but right now, the drought is biting hard.
A visit to the three clubs in Gunnedah was interspersed with a trip back to Boggabri for their Governor's visit, and the week ended with the Narrabri changeover on Saturday, and the Picnic in the Pilliga Pottery for the Partner's Project on Sunday. We were hosted by Pat and Kel Walls in Gunnedah. We travelled with them on a Friendship Exchange to Sweden, so they are old friends; it was great to catch up with them again.
Wherever we travel, I am amazed by the diversity and dedication of our clubs. That Rotary Wheel is alive and well, no matter how small the club. Some are experimenting with the changes from the last Council on Legislation, and others are sticking with traditions. One thing remains – they are all passionate about their clubs, and the good they are achieving with some wonderful projects in their communities. It makes you feel so proud to be a Rotarian.
A young man in Gunnedah approached our Gunnedah 2380 club, to ask for help with a fundraising event he wants to run to aid our farmers, and they are going to help him run a Market Day. This is a young man who was born and bred in Gunnedah; he is not a farmer, but wants to help – how good is that? And every cent they raise will be matched by our Rotary Australia Compassionate Grant (up to $15,000) through RAWCS. All donations are tax deductible. Talk to our RAWCS Chairman and International Director, Reg Pierce, if you want further information.
The Narrabri Changeover was a glittering affair, and we had two AGs in attendance. Neroli Bevan travelled all the way from Lightning Ridge to represent her cluster 9 event, and Aileen Bell came from Coonabarabran, in Cluster 7. Three PHFs were awarded on the night – two to a very surprised Daryl and Bev Bartlett.
The Picnic in the Pilliga Pottery was a great example of clubs working together, and joining in a fun day of fundraising and socialising. AG for Cluster 7, Aileen Bell (whose Mum died of MND) devised a great program, (plus the odd quiz) and we were joined by members of the Narrabri, Coonabarabran and Boggabri clubs. The lunch menu was a never-ending variety of wood fired Pizzas – so delicious, and we had 42 members and friends in attendance. If you haven't been to the Pilliga Pottery before, you are missing a wonderful facility that has been operating in the Pilliga Forest for many years. Dennis and I decided to stay there overnight in the farmhouse. It was cosy and warm, but oh so cold outside. So cold that the hot water pipes froze, and our shower had to wait until we reached Manilla. So, go in Summer. There are wonderful bush walks to be taken, and they have camping and caravan grounds as well. And the pottery itself is magnificent; you can watch the potters at work. I must admit that four pieces of their art are coming home with me.
It is changeover season for our Youth Exchange Students right now – those who have been with us this year are going home, and a new group is just arriving. I met a new arrival from the Czech Republic at the Narrabri Changeover. She was with Eliza Richardson's Mum; Eliza is currently in the Czech Republic on exchange. They are great supporters of YEP each year in Narrabri and Gunnedah – good to see.
Last night we were in Manilla. Their President is in his second term of office, and some of the wives entertained Dennis (much to his delight) while I had a chat to the board before the meeting. Manilla is another smallish club, but a happy club. Everywhere I go, I talk about Rotary Friendship Exchange, and I am sorry to see how few Rotarians have taken this opportunity to meet others in Districts around the world. So please look into this and consider the one to Germany next year in May / June, coupled with the RI Convention in Hamburg.
We are off to Tamworth today, and another round of club visits. The following week we will be home in Armidale for the better part of the week – club visits there also, but a chance to touch home base again.
This is a photo of the Team as they head off to the Kokoda Hospital project.