Celebrating Queenslanders at Christmas
I begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and extend greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
A very warm welcome to Government House to you all, and a very Merry Christmas!
Tonight, we gather at the end of another very busy year not only to celebrate the festive season, but to honour some of the remarkable people which make Queensland just so special.
Today also happens to be a rather auspicious day for our State.
It was on the ninth of December, 1859, that our first Governor, Sir George Bowen and his wife, Diamantina, Lady Bowen, sailed into Moreton Bay aboard the HMS Cordelia.
The following day Queensland was proclaimed as a separate colony from New South Wales!
As someone who was born in Sydney but now proudly wears maroon, I think I am safe in saying: what a great day that was!
Like Sir George and Lady Bowen, and indeed all Governors and their spouses since, Graeme and I are very honoured to have the opportunity to travel widely throughout Queensland to meet and support Queenslanders.
In mid-November, a few short weeks after being sworn-in, we ventured out on our first regional visit, a three-day tour of Rockhampton, Baralaba and the Indigenous community of Woorabinda in Central Queensland.
I am very passionate about improving literacy for all children, but especially for Indigenous children.
And so I took with me to the local schools a beautifully illustrated children’s book about two squirrel gliders and a kookaburra who live at Government House.
We named one of the squirrel gliders, by the way, ‘Mary’, in honour of Queensland’s first female Governor, Mary Marguerite ‘Leneen’ Forde!
The children in Woorabinda were so proud to see their town mentioned by name in the book.
Government House did this purposefully, knowing my first regional visit was to their community.
This has been a standout memory for Graeme and me – meeting the children at the various schools we have visited, especially in the regions.
The warmth, enthusiasm and sense of community in our schools and small towns, despite the challenges of the past two years, is a reflection of the remarkable Queensland spirit.
This spirit, and the impressive calibre of our emergency services and frontline personnel, ensures Queensland is very well prepared for the challenges which will undoubtedly come our way these next few months – both natural disasters, and otherwise.
But for now, Graeme and I hope you will use this opportunity tonight to unwind just a little, and to reflect on all we have achieved as a State in 2021.
We wish you all a most joyous Christmas, filled with love, warmth and happiness, and hopefully in the company of your nearest and dearest – we have all worked so hard to get to this stage.
You make Graeme’s and my job – of reflecting back to the people the pride they have in our State – just so easy.
A very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to you all.