Breakfast was a Rotary BBQ held in the grounds of the Big Rig a museum on the Gas and Petroleum Exploration Industry. It was basic but a good way to start the conference. At the breakfast there was an old slab hut (Slab Hut Museum) giving us the chance for a group (minus 1). Leroy’s Hut built in 1893 by Thomas Keegan for his family of wife and 9 children was moved to Roma for preservation.
Originally home to the Mandandanji Aboriginal people and visited twice by explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, Roma was settled after Sir Thomas Mitchell reported glowingly on the country in 1846. Looking down from nearby Mount Abundance, Mitchell wrote, “I … beheld the finest country I had ever seen in a primeval state – a champaign (meaning ‘undulating country’ in archaic French dialect) region, spotted with wood, stretching as far as human vision or even the telescope would reach.”
The Conference was being held in the Maranoa Shire Council Chambers which includes a Community Hall. Walking there I found the foundation stone from the foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. It had been buried for a number of years and the development of the Shire chambers had unearthed it. Members of the Mandandanji performed the traditional smoke ceremony so we had to pass through the eucalypt and sandalwood smoke to leave the bad spirits outside. Inside the conference commenced with the Mandandanji welcome to the land performed by the local indigenous representative.
Of course Shane arrived just in time.
Our Master of Ceremonies Murray Hartin was an able MC. Coming from Moree he knew the west well and threw in a mixture of his poems which were both humorous and moving. The RI President’s Representative PDG Allan Jagger (OBE) comes from the Rotary Club of Elland West Yorkshire and was a refreshing speaker. We introduced ourselves to Allan and gave him greetings from President Shane at Woolloongabba and President John Bendall at our other Club in Nottingham. After Allan we toured through the booths for Rotary activities before taking lunch.
After lunch there were 4 further speakers all of whom delivered interesting presentations. Jeremy Scott was particularly interesting having toured 52,000 klms over 2 ½ years (London to Auckland) alone without support team. The Saturday session closed and we head for the showers. The Conference dinner was held at the Racecourse with the meals cooked in camp stoves (lots of them) – not a real success in my view. Watered and fed we headed for bed.