Official Opening of the 20th Childers Festival
Thank you, Mayor, for the kind invitation for Kaye and me to join you all for this significant twentieth Childers Festival. I also acknowledge the Member for Bundaberg, representing the Premier, all elected representatives, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.
I must say first up how refreshing it is to see this historical town from a wonderfully unique perspective here in the middle of the Bruce Highway, quite apart from our usual driving on it.
Like many Queenslanders, I am very familiar with the town’s coffee shops and amazing bakeries, having stopped here – for us the perfect distance from Brisbane for a pit-stop – on innumerable road trips up and down the Bruce.
Indeed, I vividly recall in 1954 my family breaking the journey here from Maryborough – where we were then living, my father a teacher – to Bundaberg. We were on our way to see The Queen on her inaugural Australian tour.
Today’s Festival provides a wonderful opportunity to discover more of this vibrant and dynamic region.
In particular, the Festival supports two aspects integral to contemporary Queensland: our wonderful rural identity; and multiculturalism.
While the name may have changed from the Childers Food and Wine Festival, the focus of this event twenty years on remains: promoting the very best local produce and agriculture, particularly the fruit and vegetables for which the region is so famed!
On the multicultural front, today’s veritable United Nations of gastronomic delights – with continental Europe, the Middle East, near Asia and, of course, Australian representation – reflects the rich diversity and history of the people of this region.
And I mention the non-stop live music, the quality arts and crafts stalls, and the local history exhibitions and tours!
These three days of festivities, culminating in today’s highway party, provide an uplifting, convivial atmosphere.
That atmosphere is conducive to people learning more about each other, thereby increasing the cohesiveness of our communities.
The people of Childers uniquely know how vital that cohesiveness can be. As we remember the devastating Palace hostel fire, fifteen years ago last month, I relay, as Governor, utmost support for you all on behalf of all the people of our State. (And Kaye and I will shortly visit the Palace Memorial Building.)
Queenslanders will forever remember your indomitable spirit in the face of adversity. It resonates through significant community occasions, including today.
I regret by the way that the trial of Mr Long could not, as things turned out, proceed before a Bundaberg jury. I mention this only because of my inability at the time to ensure that, which is one of the regrets of my term as Chief Justice.
As we move forward more generally as a State, we have much to celebrate and be positive about, thanks largely to our inherent optimism. These aspects particularly come to the fore in our regional towns and cities which add wonderfully to the fabric of our State.
I am very concerned to do all I can to support regional Queensland in this governorship. We have travelled a lot already, with some particular attention to those in the West enduring this long-standing crippling drought. I must be a Governor for all Queenslanders, wherever they are.
I thank you all for supporting this Festival, particularly the Council, the organising committee, the promoters and sponsors, and the enthusiastic Festival-goers.
It is with great pleasure that I declare now officially open the twentieth Childers Festival.