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. .Probus Club of Avoca Beach Inc.

Guest Speakers

Future Meetings & Guest Speakers

Monday 19 July, 2021

Senior Constable Rachael Scott , Gosford. Speaking on "Scams"

 Recent Guest Speakers 


Monday 21 June 2021 - Nina Angelo Author & Artist

Nina Angelo is a visual artist and author who resides at Macmasters Beach. She gave a very interesting talk on her life, her artwork and her book, “Don't Cry Dance”, which tells stories of her parents who met during the war in Auchswitz. Her mother was Polish and her father, Greek, though almost all of the other members of her family were killed by the Nazis. Nina was born in Athens and her family migrated to Australia in 1949 when she was a young girl. She leads a very full life including being involved with the Sydney Jewish Museum, her artwork in which she uses fabric, producing a “Homage to the Elements” on the rocks at Terrigal, and public speaking. Nina was awarded the OAM (Order of Australia Medal) in 2009 for Services to Art.


Monday 17 May 2021 Nicola Robinson from Hunter Central Coast Development Corporation

The Hunter Central Coast Development Corporation, own and manage property in the Central Coast, Newcastle,and Port Stephens area. It plays a key roll in delivering complex projects that establish growth and development in our Region.

Our Speaker today – Nicola Robinson; is a Director of HCCDC and is directly responsible for the Central Coast area, therefore she was able to give us an overview of the Projects that are currently under development and those that are still in the planning stage.The Kariong Parklands, offers the Central Coast a desination for Tourism, Events, plus Business and Education opportunities., with further development planned for the future. The Leagues Club Park, recently completed,and situated in the centre of Gosford, is described as a nature inspired play park, with it's unique Tidal Terrace.

Newcastle has been revitalised with projects underway to link the city to the waterfront, and with the repurposing

of the old railway station into a hub,for recreation, shopping and events.

Further north the Cockle Creek Precinct, opens up opportunities for new jobs, housing and economic benefits, at

Cockle Creek near Lake Macquarie.

Probus Members seemed to really enjoy Nicola's presentation, and ask a lot of questions – particularly about how these projects are financed.

John Evans thanked Nicola on behalf of the Club and presented her with a small gift.

Monday 15 February 2021        Commander Duncan Coles   from   Marine Rescue NSW,   Central Coast

  Marine Rescue is a completely volunteer organization and a charity but it is highly professional. It is funded 45% by NSW Govt, 25% by grants and donations and the balance by fund raising activities.  It has 44 units throughout the State and 3,500+ volunteers.  Only a few units operate 24/7. Their sole purpose is to help provide safety on the water. They have five themes – Search & Rescue, Medical Emergency, General Assistance, Operation of Marine Radio Network, Public Awareness.  

 In the Central Coast there are two units with premises  at Point Clare and Terrigal Haven and they have 130 volunteers. They operate daily and are on standby for nights.  They have six rescue vessels.  Last year 120 vessels were assisted and the operation cost $150,000. This is mostly spent on fuel, servicing, maintenance and replacements.

Each volunteer contributes 450 hours per year spread over – 35 days on duty, 20 days training, 4 days fundraising. They come from a very wide background with only a few having had marine careers.

 Members found this talk about a service which operates right on our doorstep really interesting and John Evans (Guest Speakers Coordinator)  thanked Duncan for his talk and gave him a small gift from the club.

Monday 18 January 2021       Tiffany    from  the NSW Service Centre in Erina

Tiffany is a specialist customer service officer providing help for people to get the maximum benefit from the NSW Government’s  “Cost of Living Program”.   Tiffany has 16 years experience in this role – 6 in the current service centre and 10 before that in Centrelink.  Under this program more than 70 discounts, subsidies, concessions and rebates are available to low income earners, seniors, and pensioners. These benefits are available in a wide range of activities such as energy, driving, transport, health, the home and recreation.

 During her talk Tiffany explained, in a very friendly and easy to understand way, a number of these and dealt with questions as she went along. She also let members know that she is available, by appointment, for a 45 minute interview at the Service Centre with anyone with little knowledge of the program.

 Tiffany was able to say that a Round 2 of the Regional Travel Card giving eligible people a $250 stored value Visa card had just been announced by the Government. She encouraged members to apply by phone, online, or through her.

 We now live in a technology age and Tiffany encouraged member who are struggling to gain skills to actively use an online facility called “Be Connected”.  She feels that this provides easy to understand  help and learning about all aspects of computing and technology.

 Tiffany’s talk was extremely well received by members and she was happy to provide individual answers to a queue of members afterwards.  In the absence of John Evans (Guest Speakers Coordinator) Barry Turner thanked her for her talk and gave her a small gift from the club.



Monday 23 November 2020       John Asquith from the  Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre

John gave a very interesting talk about the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre in Terrigal. It was started in 2005 and has been slowly expanded and improved over the years by the efforts of three volunteers. 

An important purpose of the centre is to be a teaching facility about the marine environment for children. They get scheduled visits from local schools and give talks to such groups.   There is a large static display but there is also an acquarium and a large “wet touch” tank in which children can get the feel of many marine creatures and features. 

For more casual visitors they have a café, a display of gifts, a picnic area and a children’s playground.  The whole facility has been designed to have a minimal environmental impact. 

In 2018 they received a grant of $1 million from the government to continue their improvement.  They are using half of this to create a walking track around the adjacent Terrigal lagoon.  The rest is being used to upgrade their basic facilities – especially their sewer, toilets,  etc.    As part of the upgrade the three volunteers have become employees to strengthen the sustainability. 

Members found John’s talk about this local facility very interesting and on behalf of members he was thanked by John Evans (Guest Speaker Coordinator) and was given a small gift.

Monday 19 October 2020        Chief Inspector  Rod Peet   from  Gosford Police Station

Chief Inspector Rod Peet  is a senior officer in Brisbane Water police district. The district has three police stations – Gosford,  Woy Woy, and Terrigal.  It has 198 police staff. There is a “league table” of NSW police districts based on achieving improvements. Rod is very proud that his district is currently fifth and they have an ambition to be the best.   2020 has been a very difficult year with bushfires, floods, Covid, and Wamberal beach erosion. Rod was able to fix the erosion problem for affected homeowners because he has unlimited authority when protecting property. This is unlike the Council and the State Government which are severely restricted by regulations.

Over the last 20 years the area has seen crime reduced significantly. The biggest issue now is domestic violence closely followed by drugs. Also mental health problems are increasing mainly due to drugs. The area has a population of about 200,000 and in 2020 so far our police have laid 5,000 charges against 2,800 people. Monthly on average there have been 27 cars stolen, 31 homes broken into, 6 assaults and 3 sexual assaults. Rod said that the area has 20 well known criminals who are responsible for most of the drug problems.

At the personal level Rod has been in the police force for 30 years and during that time has obtained four university degrees – all earned part time. The police service is using more and more technology and most police today are highly educated. Work often involves short term travel to join large groups dealing with crises. Rod himself is qualified to be a riot squad commander.

Rod’s talk was fascinating, very human, and extremely well received by members. On behalf of the club, John Evans thanked Rod for giving us part of his extremely busy and responsible schedule and gave him a small gift. 

Monday 21 September 2020   Wendy Gillespie    "The Pelican Lady" 

For the last 23 years Wendy has been rescuing damaged pelicans which need help. She has also been involved in academic research about the birds. This has been a full time occupation and she has been self funded relying largely on donations. Damaged birds are rarely referred to her and she actively searches for them by kayaking around waterways which Pelicans are known to frequent and also their breeding grounds.

 In the last 10 years she has made 977 rescues. Of those 50% each were male and female, 36% were mature and 64% immature; 70% had damage to the upper body or head.  She was able to successfully treat most while sitting in her kayak but 5% needed help from a vet. A common problem is finding birds entangled in something or with something sharp attached to them. The most common problem arises from discarded recreational fishing lines (93%). Other problems are balloon strings, toxic algal blooms (although most die), and items from storm water drains. Although her focus is rescues she has found that 150 die each year – mostly males.

Recently there has been a shortage of fish and she has been entering nesting areas to supplement the needs of the young birds. Pelicans nest for comfort and usually lay two eggs.  After they hatch only the stronger of the two is allowed to live after 3 weeks. After 5 to 6 weeks the young congregate in a crèche and after 12 weeks they start flying.

Club members found Wendy’s address fascinating and she was thanked by John Evans (Guest Speaker Coordinator) who gave her a financial donation from the club. Individual members also gave her personal donations in support of her activities and as thanks for her address.

Monday 16 March 2020        Annual General Meeting  

There was no guest speaker due to the AGM.

Monday 17th February          John Sheehan       "Beethoven"

John Sheehan was accompanied by Tina, the "master player", who was in charge of the DVD player. She played different tracks from a large collection of DVDs to illustrate the concepts John mentioned. John spoke extensively on the life and works of Beethoven who was born 250 years ago in Bonne, the then capital of Germany. His childhood was not happy due to a drunken father, but he went on to have many love affairs. His music was very new and different at the time in Vienna and was exciting, challenging, passionate and beautiful. It was music from his soul. He wrote many symphonies and concertas, but only one opera. He died in 1827 with 20 000 people attended his funeral.  

Monday 20 January                Frank Brown        "An Introduction to Mineralogy"

The scheduled speaker for today, Wendy Gillespie who was going to speak about "Pelican Research and Rescue", was unable to attend due to an accident. To fill the gap, Frank Brown spoke to us instead. His talk on Mineralogy was very interesting as he had studied mineralogy as part of a chemistry course and has maintained his interest in it. He showed us slides of different types of minerals and explained how to tell them apart through colour, taste, odour and feel. He illustrated such properties as lustre, irridescence, fluorescence, opalescence among others. He also mentioned agate, silicate, crystals, magnesium and more. Unfortunately, Frank had to be quite brief as we had to leave the area to allow another group into the space.  


Monday 25 November 2019        Johnny Pace              "Putting Humour into Work"

Johnny Pace is a very entertaining speaker as he has had a show business career. Originally he worked in the family business as his father had said "No" to show business. He also was in the British Army where he worked in the the welfare and catering sections. Eventually he resigned his commission and tried show business in clubs in Northern England. He was not successful at first but persevered and learnt a lot, mainly through being understudy to some of the big stars in pantomimes. He performed in concerts and variety tours before doing a tour in Rhodesia, now called Zimabwe, as part of the act "Johnny Pace and Harriet". He sailed to Australia in 1970 and did television work, including his own show. He now works with his wife, Nicki, for the National Chid Protection Agency.      


Monday 21 October 2019            Julie Aitchison     “ Umina: The First Fifty Years”  

Julie Aitchison spent the early years of her life in Woolloomooloo but moved to Umina as a young girl. This was a big change from city living to a cabin near the beach. She accompanied her presentation with many old and interesting photos and was helped by her partner, Peter. In the early days the houses were built on the sand dunes but this started to change with the work of the first developer, Arthur Rickard. He was a good salesman who made a lot of money selling land and developed the area by supplying pumped water, planting pine trees, building a rock pool etc. Another developer was Glen Wernicke, a journalist, who started the "Womans Weekly" in 1933. His family bought land in Umina. James Morris was also mentioned as an adventurer who had been in the Royal Marines and fought in Gallipoli. He was also a photographer who became president of the Umina Surf Club. Eric Worrel originally opened the Reptile Park in Umina but this later moved to North Gosford, then to its current position. There were some important women in the area as well; Jessie Waters was Post Mistress and in the CWA, Isobel Retford ran a boarding house, Mrs Parker a Guest House, Myrtle Hawley the general store and Mary Malt carted timber and goods in her wagon. As there were no roads to Umina until 1924, transport was by barge and train. Julie's talk included many funny quips and was very well received. 

Monday 16 September 2019       Steve Tobin - Local SES Volunteers  

 Steve Tobin is a Unit Commander in the SES Volunteers service. He firstly spoke of some of the history of the SES which was founded in 1955 after catastrophic floods in NSW which caused much damage and loss of life. There are currently 9000 volunteers in the SAS with no paid staff. Their role is to save lives and protect communities from disasters in NSW such as floods and storms. Their motto is; "The worst in nature, the best in us." The Gosford unit is one of the busiest in the state and has 115 members, aged from 16 up, who are trained in a variety of skills. The SES supports other agencies such as the police when searching for missing persons, the Rural Fire fighters, Fire and Rescue and the Ambulance. However they do not actually fight fires. They do try to educate members of the community in preparing their homes to weather storms by checking downpipes and gutters, maintaining rooves and trimming  overhanging trees. Steve gave his presentation in a clear and interesting way.

 Monday 19 August 2019             Probus School Debating Competition

Instead of a guest speaker this month, we hosted the School Debating Competition as we usually do in August every year. The teams were from Green Point Christian School and Kincumber High School and their topic was "That it is justified for students to walk out of school to protest". Both teams spoke quite well with Green Point Christian School taking the negative side and Kincumber the affirmative. They all made some very good points with the adjudicator, Sue McNeil, awarding  the victory to Green Point due to the quality of their arguments and to their speaking performance. Whilst the adjudicator was deciding on the results, the accompanying teachers spoke about  their respective schools, which was very interesting. 

Monday 15 July 2019          Frank Brown (Our Guest Speaker Coordinator)         "Trips to the Dark Side"

As a child Frank grew up in UK in Kent during the war. He had a fascination with tunnels and the underground in the form of wartime bomb shelters in the UK and of metro systems in various countries. In adulthood this became a hobby of exploring underground as a member of caving clubs. He showed a number of photos of cave systems – both those open to the public and others only open to experienced cave explorers – in Tasmania, New Zealand, and UK. He gave some insight into mineralogy and glow worms. At work Frank spent a number of years working on hydro electricity facilities which also involve activity underground.

Frank was a very humorous and entertaining speaker and his address was really enjoyed by those present as was evident from regular spontaneous laughter and the applause at the end. 

Monday 17 June 2019         Nadia Wensley            "Tax and Super Myth Busters"

Three staff members from the ATO office in Gosford gave a combined talk to us about finances. Although they were inexperienced at public speaking, they did impart quite a lot of information which they showed on slides. Tegan began by giving an overview of the Gosford Office which has 400 staff, of which 80% are from the local area. She went on to talk about using surplus funds from downsizing to add to superannuation. They also explained the implications of gifting and the taxation consequences. Scams were also discussed, mainly by Leon, who gave some good advice as to how to avoid them. They also had available leaflets and a small booklet on Financial Guidance. Their presentation was accompanied by a survey to give them feedback on their performance. 

Monday 20 May 2019          Greg van Borssum       "The Successes of a Misspent Life"

Greg proved to be a very competent motivational speaker. He told us of his life starting as a young, skinny kid who was a "Problem"child and also bashed and ridiculed by older kids in the area. He learnt to focus on his dreams and hence became a body builder who was the world's youngest Mr. Australia, 1990 and 1992. He learnt martial arts in China becoming a Shaolin Master and went on to try his luck in the movies in Hollywood and China. When this fell through he made his own award winning short films. He also worked on such films as "Happy Feet"and "Mad Max Fury Road". What he didn't know, he learnt along the way. After seeing a friend jump to his death to commit suicide, he became a speaker to help prevent suicides and is now the National Mental Health Ambassador. He proved to be a very popular speaker who has achieved an amazing amount in his 48 years. He finished by saying, no matter how hard things become, there is always a way out. 

Monday 15 April 2019          Barbara Elkins            "Bee Aware"

Barbara Elkins, the "bee lady", wore her beekeeping outfit, a white overall, to speak to us about her work. She did put on her special headcovering to show what it was like but did not keep it on. She also showed us a hive and how it was used. She has worked with bees since she was a child and is almost 75 now. She has always been passionate about bees and has spent a lot of time studying and reading about them.  She explained how the workers look after the queen and how they create the hexagonal shapes which have various uses. The hierarchy of the hive is made up of all sorts of different bees frome the queen, workers, nurses, drones, etc. It was all quite fascinating as Barbara explained each individual bee's function and lifespan. Finally to the honey, which is anti bacterial and medicinal.       

Monday 18 March 2019        Annual General Meeting  

There was no guest speaker due to the AGM.

Monday 18 February 2019           Adam Crouch, MP - "Politics & People: Reflections of a Local Member"

Adam Crouch has been the State Member for Terrigal since 2015 which he finds to be a great honour, but also very humbling. He was born in Adelaide as an only child, and originally worked in publishing for Griffin Press. His wife, Jill, is a nurse who has continued her studies whilst suffering from terminal breast cancer. They have lived on the Central Coast for 22 years and Adam has worked hard to attain his position. To succeed in his job, he said that he needs a very understanding partner, family and friends. He has never been afraid to be someone else's voice and does not make promises he cannot keep. He continues to doorknock to meet people and to hear their concerns. In his own words, he is a very prodigious speaker. He was also very entertaining.

Monday 21 January 2019            Cassandra O'Connor, "The North Connex Tunnel  "

Cassandra O'Connor from Lendlease gave a very interesting presentation on this project.  The Australian and NSW Governments are both involved with Transurban, Lendlease and the French company, Bougese, to build the longest, 9km, and deepest, 90 metres underground, road tunnel in Australia. There is actually a total of 21km of tunnelling which includes many cross passages. There are four vertical shafts which are used to lift the necessary equipment and machinery up and down.  Big grey sheds cover the shafts to stop the noise and also to house stairs, lifts and conveyor belts which are used to extract the dirt. This dirt is transported to Hornsby quarry where it is being used to fill the hole and create a park. The tunnelling itself is almost complete and some of the roadwork has started. Besides paving the road, there are many other features to install; water proofing, cables, traffic cameras, lighting, ventilation, communication, etc. Then there is the tolling system which will charge $7 per car. Cassandra was a very informative speaker and answered various questions from our members.