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If you have any suggestions for interesting guest speakers for our meetings, please contact Maria Z., our Guest Speaker Office.



* Friday 25 Nov 2022 - Johnny Pace - Topic: Putting Humour To Work

* Friday 27 Jan 2023 - Richard de Grijs - Topic: All Hands to Dance and Skylark


* Report for October 2022 - Halloween Special Event

There was a sea of black and orange at the general meeting and some very creative costumes.

Prizes were awarded to the scariest/creative member at each table.

Michael was joined by Pat, Brian and Maria in a presentation of poetry suitable for the occasion.

A big thank you to all for the enthusiastic participation.


* Report for September 2022 – Ian Barnett 

Ian grew up in Homebush.  His father was a keen gardener who felt that gardening makes you get out of bed.  He would say, sow the seeds and see it germinate.

Ian graduated from Hawkesbury Agricultural College and went on to work on the land, becoming an agronomist.

His passion is food safety and taking care of the land by using sustainable land management practices to ensure the productivity and economic potential of the land is maintained, whilst its ecological function, such as the ability of the soils to retain water and support biodiversity is not diminished. He feels that the rapid growth of world population which currently sits at 8 billion is not sustainable without good land management.

Ian encouraged everyone to grow their own vegetables, planted on the ground or in pots and gave some helpful hints.


* Report for August 2022 – Chris Hebbard

Chris, accompanied by his wife Margo, told us the story of his father’s experience during WW2.

Margo was the narrator and Chris voiced his father’s actual words, written down in the last months of his life of how he came to make a photographic record of his Australian Army Hospital unit.

He and another 160 members of his unit volunteered to stay with the critically wounded as the Germans overran Greece.  His father continued to take photos while helping to attend to over 2,800 wounded Allied POWs.

He was able to print some of his images while in a POW camp and passed them onto his fellow prisoners.  When time came to be moved to a POW camp in Axis territory, he sealed the remaining negatives in wax and stored them in a water bottle made to replicate a standard issue bottle.  The negatives survived and some 600 of these photos were eventually printed and digitised for the first time in 2011, a full 70 years after they were taken.

A selection of photos and a range of memorabilia were exhibited.


* Report for July 2022 - The Heralds

The Heralds were our special guests for our July meeting.

They entertained us with music from the 60s, 70s and 80s.  Songs that we all know and love.

Quite a few of our members were singing along.

The Heralds started as a group of three when they were in their 20s.

They then had their own families, remaining friends over the years and reforming as a group after retirement.

Colin joined the group a few years ago and Brian more recently replaced the keyboardist.

The Heralds sing primarily in retirement villages and church groups.

The entertainment was very much enjoyed.


* Report for June 2022 - Todd Prees

Todd Prees, CEO of Kids With Cancer Foundation Australia gave a presentation at our June meeting.

The aim of the Foundation is to be a place where the families of kids with cancer and their social workers can find a solution to the day to day financial needs a family continues to have whilst caring for their sick child.

To be an organisation that assists children’s hospitals by paying the salaries for oncology fellowships, social workers, and clinical nurse specialists as well as contributing to the funding for research and hospital infrastructure.

To be a charity where supporters can be confident that 100% of all the funds received in donations will go to helping these very vulnerable families through complete transparency and open communication.

The Foundation comprises 10 employees, 6 full time and 4 part time located in Castle Hill.  All the administration costs are covered by the lotteries that have been running continuously since 1999, so all donations and funds received from fundraising events are entirely applied to helping kids with cancer.

Part of the funding over the next two years will be to support a Clinical Trial with Associate Professor David Ziegler into finding a cure for children who relapse after treatment for Ependymoma in children, a brain cancer.

Todd Prees talked about different ways to become involved through volunteering, one of them being the care boxes.

* Report for May 2022 – Roger Brant

Roger Brant was the guest speaker for May 2022 speaking about The Art of Brewing.

Roger gave us a run down on the history of beer making in Australia.  It was first introduced via the HMS Endeavour when Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay in 1770.

The first official brewer in Australia was John Boston, who brewed a beverage from Indian corn bittered with cape gooseberry leaves.  It is likely though that beer was brewed unofficially much earlier.  The first pub, the Mason Arms was opened in 1796 in Parramatta by James Larra, a freed convict.

James Squire was a first fleet convict transported to Australia.  Squire is credited with the first successful cultivation of hops in Australia around the start of the 19th century.

The basic ingredients of beer are water, a starch source, such as malted barley, able to be fermented, a brewer’s yeast to produce fermentation and a flavouring, such as hops, to offset the sweetness of the malt.

Though used in varying proportions depending on the style being made, all beer is made from grain, hops, yeast and water.

Roger passed around some samples of different grains for us to touch and smell, and also provided some samples of his brew.


* Report for April

Hilary Kuwahata, a member of our club, was the guest speaker for April 2022.

We were taken on an arm chair travel through the South-Western area of Western Australia, visiting many known areas, such as Kalgoorlie a town established during the late 1800’s due to the gold rush.  Just outside Kalgoorlie is The Super Pit mine producing approximately 14 tonnes of gold per year.

Boddington Mine (Australia’s largest) produces over 800,000 tonnes of gold and 30,000 tonnes of copper per year.

Esperance is predominantly a tourist destination known for surfing, fishing and swimming. It is also a port for the export of grain from the WA wheat belt as well as iron ore.

The city of Albany was WA’s only deep water port before the development of Fremantle.  It was the last port of call for troopships leaving Australia in WW1 and the ANZAC’s are commemorated in the National ANZAC Centre.  It was also a submarine base for the USA in WW2.  The main industries now are tourism, fishing, timber and agriculture.

Busselton a popular holiday destination for West Australians.  It boasts the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere.

Fremantle is a main port city at the mouth of the Swan River.  There are many heritage buildings, art galleries and museums, including one of the relics of the Batavia which sank off the WA coast.

Along the way of these and many other interesting destinations was the discovery of beautiful and diverse wild flowers skilfully photographed by Hilary.

* Report for March

Our last gathering in March comprised our regular General Meeting, followed by the Annual General Meeting and the election of a new executive committee. Time did not allow a guest speaker.


* Report for February

February 2022 guest speaker Martha Jabour on the topic of Grace’s Place was very well received and her talk was nothing short of inspirational.

Martha has been the Executive Director of the Homicide Victims’ Support Group since 1993 having been employed by the Institute of Forensic Medicine to co-ordinate and set up the support group, to provide counselling, support and referrals for the family members of homicide.

After the death of her second son Michael to cot death, Martha trained as a grief and trauma counsellor and worked, both in a voluntary and paid position, with the Sudden Infant Death Association of NSW.  Building on her experience within the areas of grief, trauma, policy development, strategic planning and crisis management.

The Homicide Victims’ Support Group was established when the parents of Anita Cobby and Ebony Simpson were introduced.  They recognized the real need to set up this organization.

Martha talked about all the hurdles of setting up Grace’s Place, whose primary purpose is to provide a unique place of healing and restoration for children traumatised by homicide.

Grace’s Place is named in honour of Grace Lynch, mother of Anita Cobby.


* Report for January

  Our first face-to-face meeting post lockdown was:  David Short from the Royal Flying Doctor Service

David is the Speaker Co-ordinator for the Royal Flying doctor Service South eastern section.  He gave us an interesting and comprehensive history of the Service. 

An interesting fact: last year alone 38,615 patients were transported by air and 82,081 patients were transported by road.

  The speaker for January 2022 was: Arthur Pearce from the National Maritime Museum.  Topic: Riverboats of the Murray-Darling

 After they first crossed the Blue Mountains in 1813, it took many years for the English settlers to work out the final destinations of the inland river systems.  There were theories of an inland sea, or of vast areas of inland marshland, but it wasn’t until 1829 that Charles Sturt finally navigated the river system from the Murrumbidgee to the mouth of the Murray that the problem was solved.

Soon the potential of the river system to offer a means of supplying the settlers of the inland, as well as delivering their produce to the coastal ports.  The Murray Darling system was seen as the potential “Mississippi of the Inland”.

This potential was realised in the latter half of the nineteenth century when a large fleet of paddle steamers provided a vital link “from source to sea”.  The riverboats were able to bring supplies to miners and inland settlers, as well as deliver their produce to the major ports around the coast.  At the height of the river trade there were up to 500 river boats of all shapes and sizes plying the inland waterways.

The illustrated presentation included photographs of some of the early pioneers of the river trade, as well as the colonial politics that affected their enterprise.  We were introduced to many of the riverboats and their crews, as well as to the day-to-day hazards that they faced.