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Fridays at 7:30 AM
Aboard a Captain Cook Cruise Ship
Eastern Pontoon, Circular Quay
Sydney, NSW 2000

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Mudgee District Conference


Part 1: D9675 District Conference moments

by Bernadette Hunkeler Brown

For me, the main reason for attending a District Conference is not the stellar speakers, the training sessions or meeting the RI President’s Personal Representative (the “RIPPR”) but quite simply to meet people. This time was no different. Nigel and I arrived early and did a wine tour the day before, enjoyed what Mudgee has to offer, and then attended the breakfast meeting of Mudgee Sunrise (please note the “make-ups” for us both Mr Secretary!) where we heard some interesting comments from IPRIP John Germ about district member age-profiles and someone else about the possibility of NSW becoming a single district in the coming years. That evening it was into the conference-proper and I enjoyed talking with people from far and wide. And that continued for the next two days. I heard that our district has only 2.6% of members under 40.  And I think our club has most of them!  As John Germ said in his conference wrap-up (words to the effect of), in a district where the average age of members is 74, the clubs with no younger members have no future – extinction is a likely outcome of their short-sighted membership policies. That made me rather proud to be a member of our club – go the Coves!

Part 2: D9675 District Conference moments

by Nigel Brown

Yes, yes, yes, I agree with all of the aforesaid too. I attend district conferences to hear a good idea for a project or fundraiser (not many there this time unfortunately), to meet an interesting person (yes, there were a few!) or to hear an inspiring speaker. And for me (oh, and Bernadette too – we are a team!), hearing Dr Gill Hicks, a survivor of the London Bombings of 7 July 2005, speak was pure inspiration. She lost both her legs and nearly her life on that dreadful day.  But she decided to fight and she won.  Her role in life is, amongst others, to engage with would-be terrorists and to talk them out of their misguided beliefs that blowing themselves-up is going to do anybody any good whatsoever. She managed to inadvertently talk one radicalised youth out of his intention to die because, forget the virgins, they probably don’t play soccer in Heaven! I swelled with a sense that the possibilities to achieve in this world are directly related to your ability to grasp the possible out of the ether. To paraphrase Thomas the Tank Engine, “I know I can” – and you can!

Part 3: Saturday highlights

by PP Jackie Charlton

The trip to Mudgee was lovely with the recent rains turning the paddocks a rich green in parts. Parkland resort was a good venue with a spacious auditorium ad friendly service although there were some problems with the sound system on Friday night and the band were disappointed when the majority had left before the end of their first set.
Ken Suttcliffe, the sports journalist and polio survivor was very well received, particularly by my sports junky husband! We heard from two inspiring ladies. Gemma Sisia, the Science & maths teacher from Armidale who built schools in Tanzania for poor students with the help of Rotary and Stephanie Woollard who many Coves know from the Seven Women Project in Nepal. Both began with a very small idea and continue to grow their amazing work with the help of the Rotary Network.
Mike Brady finished the day with a musical autobiography, entertaining those who remember his many advertising jingles and the AFL anthem, Up There Cazaly!

Part 4: District 9675 Conference in Mudgee, NSW, March 2018

By PP Michael Austin

Mudgee reputedly derives from the Wiradjuri Aboriginal term 'Moothi' meaning 'nest in the hills'. This is a suitable title as Mudgee is an attractive town of fine old buildings, located in the broad, picturesque and fertile Cudgegong River Valley. Surrounded by hills of green and blue, it is situated 265 km north-west of Sydney, 470 m above sea-level and has a current population of around 8200. The area is noted for its fine wool, beef, fat lambs, cereal crops, lucerne, vegetables, vineyards, cheese and honey. There is also a coal mine at Ulan, a livestock exchange and numerous horse, sheep and cattle studs.
Having Rotary links with the Country Education Foundation and the farmers’ mentoring scheme, “Soils for Life”, this was a District Conference not to be missed and I was certainly not disappointed! The highlights for me were in meeting old acquaintances again, accidentally stumbling upon an informal Rotaract gathering whilst exploring the well-appointed Parklands Conference Centre, all of our keynote speakers and Saturday night’s dinner-cum-“shin dig” in a nearby tin shed!
On Friday afternoon, I joined two interactive sessions, firstly on “Branding”, secondly on “ What makes a club viable?”. My wife Gunilla joined our group of Coves for the evening dinner and bush dance. Saturday saw us in full swing, President Edei, Bernadette, Nigel, Jackie and myself enjoying a full day of presentations and keynote speakers whilst Jackie’s husband Neil did his own thing and Gunilla had a golf day with the Mudgee ladies.
Welcomed by DG Stephen Britten, conference proceeded with some encouraging words from immediate Past Rotary International President, John Germ from Tennessee, followed by an entertaining and interesting keynote talk by polio survivor  and Mudgee man Ken Sutcliffe, who will be well known to many readers as  a radio and television sports presenter. Wine maker of the year John Stein then gave us insights into the history of local winemaking before Gemma Sisia talked about her outstanding and growing project, fighting poverty through education - The School of Saint Jude in Tanzania. Although Jude is the saint of desperate and lost causes, this school is without doubt an outstanding success.
Many Coves will remember Stephanie Woollard from the premier night of her movie “Seven Women” at the Event cinema in George Street. Stephanie held us spellbound again by the story of her stumbling across seven disabled women in India and turning her meager $200 pocket money into an outstanding venture.
Prof Ron Rapee, from Rotary Australia Health, talked about Youth and Mental Health, then the day’s “ official business”  ended with singer/song and jingle writer Mike Brady entertaining us with stories and songs.
The Sunday sessions began with a talk by Dominic Teake of the Police Community Youth Clubs (PCYC), a Rotary initiative. Dom spoke about kids at risk and the positive work that continues through PCYC. Judith Mogi then took the stand to speak about Rotaract and working with Rotary, a subject that particularly interests me, then Skillaroo finalist and heavy vehicle mechanic Louise Azzaopardi spoke about her journey from RYLA to her current success.
Finally, remember the London terrorist attack on its transport system? Dr Gillian Hicks from Adelaide lost both legs when a bomb went off in an underground train. Gillian’s sense of humour and obvious courage held the audience towards the standing ovation that she truly deserves.
Thanks for reading this to the end – I don’t often attend these conferences but am so glad that I didn’t miss this one!


by Paul Ward Harvey
As Chairman of our District Youth Exchange Committee, I attended many National Chairs Conferences. In 2007 I was elected by the National Conference members as the Australian  representative  to attend the European Youth Exchange conference in Iceland. I arranged to fly via Abu Dhabi (to visit a friend), Milan (to visit Giulia, a former Exchange student from Lake Como), Copenhagen, and then Reykjavik in Iceland.
Upon arrival in Reykjavik, and as we were motoring to the hotel, we passed a large aluminium smelter powered by geothermal electricity….and upon enquiry I was told that the raw material, bauxite came from Australia!
Some 300,000 people live in  Iceland, most in Reykjavik. The city and scenery are spectacular. The country was devoid of trees once, but not naturally. It was due to deforestation by the populace for building, boat building, and firewood. A reaforestation programme is proving successful.
The Conference was well attended, and covered numerous topics of interest. Each country representative had been requested to man a stall featuring their country’s attractions… my stall featured the vast outback, the Barrier Reef, kangaroos, koalas, Tim Tams and Sao biscuits with Vegemite.  Dare I say that all were a great hit…excepting the Vegemite…but a few past Exchange students who had exchanged to Australia felt obliged to try it again.
Upon return home, I subsequently reported to the next Australian Conference on the Sunshine Coast..quite a contrast to Iceland. A number of the delegates in Iceland were in attendance at that Conference.
Overall, the meetings with representatives from Districts with which we were exchanging students, and the cross flow of information and experiences, was most valuable. 
As a postscript, Iceland in 2007 had the highest per capita income in the world. In 2008, its banks collapsed, preceding the world financial crisis, and throwing Iceland into a severe depression. In the face of enormous pressure from European countries, the Icelandic Government refused to bail out the Icelandic banks or pay those banks debts to their European creditors. Today, as a result of restructuring and tourism, Iceland has almost regained it’s pre 2008 status.

  From Sydney City Rotaract to Sydney Cove 


by Ben MacNevin

I was President of Sydney City Rotaract in 2015/16, the same year that Andrew Wawn was President of Sydney Cove Rotary. During my year, Andrew would pop into club meetings and stay to socialise. He was simply there as a friendly face, and while it seems like a small act, it actually had a big effect on the Rotaractors that attended.
Since joining Sydney Cove Rotary, I hope to have the same effect in Rotaract that Andrew made on me. By being a friendly face, and providing support and networking where I can, I hope to impress upon Rotaractors that the connections made in Rotary don’t have to end when you turn 30.
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