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Guest Speakers

8624189 © James Knopf |  


February Guest Speaker: Judith Dunn

Topic: TBC

Judith Dunn OAM, FPDHS is a tour guide and sought-after public speaker, who received an Order of Australia medal for services to history and heritage and holds a Parramatta and District Historical Society Fellowship (FPDHS) for researching and recording Parramatta history.  

There is no guest speaker in March as we hold our AGM.


April Guest Speaker: Lester Morris

Topic: Life and Times of a Professional Actor/Singer/Stage Director and Writer

Lester Morris has been seen nationally in Oz in several TV commercials and drama, while still keeping his old tenor voice in trim by working it daily. There are many more credits in Theatre and on TV, which are far too numerous to list here. 
After nearly 50 years as a full-time professional in the industry - whatever 'full time'​ means? - he's still available for whatever crops up in the industry. At the same time, he's had a parallel career as motorcycle writer, with numerous road test reports and columns published in many specialist magazines, along with two full-length books on the subject. 

May Guest Speaker: Adam from Price Line Chemists

Topic: Medications and Charities that Price Line Support

The Priceline Sisterhood Foundation was developed after Sir Bob Geldof spoke at a Priceline Pharmacy event about his two decades of charity work. In response to this, the Sisterhood was formed in 2011 with it's purpose being to give back to the community and, specifically, to provide support to women and their families. Following a national survey that had more than 25,000 respondents, Charity Partners were selected that covered a range of causes that were close to the hearts of women across Australia.


June Guest Speaker: Jan-Maree Ball

Topic: Aussie Hero Quilts

Aussie Heroes has been up and running since January 2012 but it began with Jan-Maree Ball sending quilts and laundry bags, with the help of her quilt group, to one particular soldier and his team in late 2011. These days quilts and laundry bags are mailed mostly in response to requests we receive from serving members or their loved ones. 

July Guest Speaker: Mark Bundy

Topic: Rookwood Cemetery

 When Mark Bundy applied for a grave digging job at Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery, he was asked "Are you married?", "Do you have children?" and "Do you have a mortgage?". After answering "Yes" to all three questions, he was told "You start on Monday". That was over 25 years ago. No longer called gravediggers, he and his colleagues are now known as a burial or funeral technician.

Rookwood is one of the oldest working cemeteries in Australia and the largest in the southern hemisphere. Consecrated in 1867, the location for the necropolis was chosen because of its proximity to the Sydney to Parramatta railway line. People from more than 90 different religious and cultural groups are buried in Rookwood, all with their own rituals and customs.

Death is sad and serious but Mark injects humour and interesting anecdotes into his talk. 

August Guest Speaker: Sydney Search Dogs

 Topic: Pat and Chat

 Come along and meet Chris (president and search commander), Adele (lead K9 instructor and search dog handler) and K9 Koa (trainee cadaver dog) from Sydney Search Dogs

Search Dogs Sydney Inc is a distinguished team equipped with expertly trained canines adept at locating both living and deceased individuals. Their specialised services extend to various scenarios, including wilderness search operations, natural or man-made disasters, as well as single or mass casualty events. Comprised of qualified Search Technicians partnered with highly skilled canines, their team operates around the clock, ensuring readiness for any mission.


 September Guest Speaker: Peter Plowman

 Topic: The First Convoy in WW1

 The Australian Government formed the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) within 2 weeks of the war starting. Thousands of men volunteered to enlist in the AIF and received basic military training in their home state. Over 21,000 men, as well as medical staff, horses and supplies, sailed from Australia in a convoy of ships in November 1914. They were destined for Europe, but events unfolded as they sailed that would change their fate......

October Guest Speaker: Sue Butler

 Topic: Aussie Slang

Susan Butler was the editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, Australia's national dictionary and, as editor, was largely responsible for the selection and writing of new words. She is the author of the Dinkum Dictionary, The Aitch Factor, and New Words: Changes in Australian English (2020). She is also a regular commentator on Australian English on radio, television and the internet and was a TEDxSydney speaker in 2015. In June 2018, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. She is also, as of June 2018, an Honorary Lecturer at the ANU in the College of Asia and the Pacific. Sue now has her own website ( where she blogs on aspects of Australian English.

Aussie Slang is fun way of looking at the history of Australian English, from convict days to the present day, with examples of words and expressions we have acquired from London slang, British dialects, and American English. Our first lexicographer, the gentleman convict, James Hardy Vaux, gets a special mention.

November Guest Speaker: Jennifer Philps from the Children's Medical Research Institute ate Westmead

 Topic: Gene Therapy - A New Medicine for the 21st Century

The Gene Therapy Research Unit is a joint initiative of Children’s Medical Research Institute and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW). Their primary goals are to develop more effective gene therapy methods and to translate basic research progress into improved health outcomes for children.

Clinical trials are underway to correct SCIDX1-deficiency (“boy in the bubble” disease) and to improve chemotherapy treatment of paediatric cancers. They are also currently working toward a new clinical trial to correct inherited liver disease (OTC and ASS deficiency urea cycle defects).



February Guest Speaker: Eric Hiam from Balance Financial Solutions

Topic: Making decisions about financial choices, understanding these choices and Aged Care advice

 Balance Retirement & Aged Care Specialists is a privately owned financial company that has specialised in financial planning, aged care, retirement villages, private home care, and estate management for over 20 years.

Their role is to help clients navigate through their later stages of life, and as everyone’s financial situation is different, they use their own system that they have created to show clients the options that they have available to them and how it will affect their personal finances. As their clients want options when making choices for their future, they help guide them by providing several options to help make choices easier.


There is no guest speaker in March as we hold our AGM.


April Guest Speaker: Ian Hemphill

 Topic: Herbs and Spices

Herbie has long been the nickname of Ian Hemphill, one of Australia's foremost culinary herb and spice experts. Ian Hemphill can’t remember when herbs and spices were not a part of his life. The younger son of John and Rosemary Hemphill, who pioneered Australia’s love of herbs and spices in the 1950’s, Ian earned his pocket money picking herbs and remembers many a season when the family home was strewn with bunches of drying culinary produce. Ian worked with his parents for many years, managed a spice company in Singapore and was a senior manager for a multinational food company in Australia. In 1997 Ian and his wife Liz opened a specialty spice shop in the Sydney suburb of Rozelle, which bears the nickname Ian has had since school, Herbie’s. Ian enjoys sharing his lifelong obsession with herbs and spices, and is a prolific communicator about the world of spices in particular.


May Guest Speaker: Paul Kearney

 Topic: Music of the 60s: The British Invasion

 We have very much enjoyed Paul's visits. Come along to learn about and listen to the fabulous hits of the 60s! 

June Guest Speaker: A representaive from Macular Degeneration Foundation

Topic: Remaining safe and mobile with vision loss

 Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic and painless disease of the macula. AMD is related to ageing. By definition, it affects people over 50 years of age. However, age-related macular degeneration is not a normal or inevitable consequence of ageing.

There are some things you can do to keep your macula healthy. This could delay the onset or progression of AMD. Not smoking, doing regular exercise, adopting an eye-healthy diet, and protecting your eyes from the sun are all recommended.

In some cases, additional supplements may be beneficial. But first, consult with your doctor or eye health professional.


July Guest Speaker:  Dani and Meg from Stitches Collection

Topic: Comfort Buddies

Stitches Collection® are a unique series of trademarked therapy dolls designed and made in Australia through the Creative Groundz Studio program.The dolls are made by our amazing, diverse crew, including those with disabilities and mental health, to encourage dialogue with kids, their workers, and the general community on health, social, and mental health issues.The Stitches Collection® designs have been used by DanielleRG, lead artist of Creative Groundz Studio and Western Sydney community artist, in her youth and community engagement projects since 2010. Building on techniques taught to children to design characters, the Stitches Collection® have been brought to life in the community from the community.  The first Collection of 18 dolls was publicly launched in June 2019 in Blacktown, Western Sydney. As a not-for-profit community initiative, part of the proceeds of all Stitches Collection® dolls support the delivery of community projects in Lalor Park under Creative Groundz Studio and Common Groundz Community Cafe (see 'Our Community' below). With each doll representing its own vulnerability story, each Stitches Collection® character are looking for a friend to love and hug.

Click here for more information. 


August Guest Speaker: Matt Murphy

Topic:  Rum: A Distilled History of Colonial Australia

Australia and its formation - through the distorted view of a rum bottle.

At school, Matt Murphy failed English and couldn't see the point of history. He became a firie and has been serving in Sydney's inner city for 33 years. He is now also a part time historian and teacher, tolerating the attitudes of kids towards history that he used to share. 

  • Could the Rum Rebellion have been averted if Major Johnston wasn't too hungover to meet Governor Bligh?
  • Would the Eureka Stockade have played out differently if the rebels weren't pissed?
  • How were prisoners to get drunk if Macquarie closed the only pub in the jail?
  • And why should sailors under fourteen be deprived of their sixteen shots of rum per day?

These are just some of the questions answered in Matt Murphy's account of this country's colonial history through the distorted lens of a rum bottle. Brimming with detailed research and irreverent character sketches, Murphy looks at not just how much rum was drunk in colonial Australia (a lot!), but also the lengths people went to get their hands on it, the futile efforts of the early governors to control it and the often disastrous and/or absurd consequences of its consumption. They are consequences that are felt today. Murphy goes beyond foundational stories, to look at distant and recent history, Indigenous consumption, the temperance movement, lockout laws, and the nation's modern reputation. And if that's too much nation-building for your tipple, there's always the vexed issue of politicians urinating on the parliamentary carpet. So here's to rum, for making bad decisions look like a good idea at the time.


September Guest Speaker: Graeme Sims

Topic: Funny Dunnies

We Aussies have made a 'thing' about our dunnies, (despite the fact that we did not invent the word) whether they be in the bush or in suburbia.  We write poems, stories and songs, and take photos of them.  Graham will relate a lifetime of 'dunny' reminiscences, from both here and overseas ... keeping it clean and wholesome for audiences of delicate or genteel disposition.

October Guest Speaker: David Rosenberg

Topic: Pine Gap

Pine Gap is a satellite surveillance base and Australian Earth station approximately 18 km south-west of the town of Alice Springs, Northern Territory in the center of Australia. It is jointly operated by Australia and the United States, and since 1988 it has been officially called the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap (JDFPG); previously, it was known as Joint Defence Space Research Facility.

The station is partly run by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US National Security Agency (NSA), and US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and is a key contributor to the NSA's global interception/surveillance effort.

November Guest Speaker: Preet Chouhan

Topic: Finding more out about Service NSW's Savings Finder Program

Preet is a Savings Finder Specialist with Services NSW and will be presenting on the Savings Finder Program which assists and supports customers and communities with savings available by applying for current rebates, vouchers and grants that they may be eligible for.

There is no guest speaker in December as we hold our Probus Christmas party and raffle: Merry Christmas to all!



May Guest Speaker: Graeme Simms 

Topic: Arthur Stace: The Eternity Man

For over 37 years, a mysterious, one word message - 'Eternity' - appeared on steps and footpaths around the streets of Sydney.  For many years, its meaning and its author remained unknown, until a small, essentially private little man, named Arthur Stace, gradually revealed himself.  He had had a dreadful childhood and early life, had been a petty criminal, a hopeless alcoholic and metho addict, until his life was turned around in remarkable circumstances and he spent the rest of his life spreading his heartfelt message.  Graham met Arthur Stace, and recounts his story.


June Guest Speakers: Leesa Kotis and Susie Ferreira

Topic: Organised Ambience (the Clutter Buster and interior design)

From a young age Susie has been a professional performer singing and dancing in various roles catering to a wide range of audiences. The stage is a comfortable avenue for hosting and public speaking. Her educational background ensures that she is adept and quick to problem solve, and naturally interact with children and families from all walks of life. Susie's innate passion of interiors has recently completely consumed her, and is extremely keen in helping those who truly value their 'sacred spaces' in bringing joy and serenity to their homes or work space.


Leesa Kotis's journey in becoming a Professional Organiser started when she was about 9 years old.  As a child she would organise areas of her room on weekends. Nothing was left untouched. Her drawers, study desk, her wardrobe and even cupboards located above her wardrobe.  This was a dangerous exercise for a nine or ten-year-old.  She would stand on an old chair and add a copy of an old White Pages phone book to add that extra bit of height.  She made it through her childhood unscathed, but extremely organised.  She didn’t understand it then but being organised gave her a sense of calm.

Fast forward, helping individuals and families to become organised has been Leesa's passion for many years now.  It gives her immense joy to see people achieve their goals, some of whom begin their journey with a lot of apprehension and anxiety.


July Guest Speaker: Paul Hollis

Topic:  Stroke Safe 

The Stroke Foundation is a national charity that partners with the community to prevent, treat and beat stroke. They stand alongside stroke survivors and their families, healthcare professionals and researchers. They build community awareness and foster new thinking and innovative treatments. They support survivors on their journey to live the best possible life after stroke.


August Guest Speaker: Annika Nystrom

Topic: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Australian Wildlife Conservancy is the biggest private (not for profit) owner and/or manager of land for conservation in Australia. As a leader in the field, their mission is the effective conservation of all Australian nayive animal species and the habitats in which they live.

September Guest Speaker: John Donohoe

Topic: The Bushranger, Ben Hall and the Search for his Loot

John Donohoe has had a career in sales and marketing, mainly in the chemical and related industries. In midlife, John realised that there were other things in his life that he wanted to try. History, particularly Australian Bushranger History, took him on a journey to uncover and attempt to understand the life and times of Bushranging in the 1860s. Ben Hall particularly stood out as a man of interest who deserved a thorough investigation.

The passion to reveal the mysteries of the past remains.

John Donohoe has formal qualifications in Science and Sales and Marketing. He lives in Epping, Sydney, when he is not on a field trip. He also spends some of his time as a current director of The Epping Club.


 October Member Speaker: Val 

Topic: Val's very interesting life experiences



 November Guest Speaker: Paul Kearney

Topic: Music of the 60s