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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 175

Mrs SUDMALIS (Gilmore) (10:51): Gilmore is in the lucky position of being a coastal rural region. Over the summer period there are surf carnivals with places such as Mollymook Beach being selected for the 2015 Stramit NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships and Kiama hosting the Surf Life Saving South Coast Branch Championships, as well as Shellharbour hosting the surf lifesaving club Australian Surf Rowers League Championships later this month—truly spectacular. At each of these carnivals, our youth show their commitment to training, over and above their amazing number of volunteer hours patrolling the beaches to keep our thousands of South Coast visitors safe between the flags.

Our regional excellence goes beyond the coastal strips to our agricultural wealth. Congratulations to the committees of all show societies: Kiama, Berry, Nowra, Kangaroo Valley and Milton, with David Young from Kiama, Peter Hands from Berry, Wendy Woodward OAM from Nowra, David Kent from Kangaroo Valley and Robert Davis from Milton all serving their communities as presidents of our local show societies.

There has been a continuing and growing enthusiasm to introduce our young children to our shows, some of which have been a constant fixture in our local communities for over 150 years. You might say this is just for entertainment, and while many of us diligently wrap coloured bands around wrists as they come through the gates, that simply is not the main part of any show. It is a place to inspire the arts and crafts, the spinners and weavers, the photographers and painters, the jam makers, the pickle producers, the flower growers and the vegetable growers. There are competitions for cakes and eggs, chooks and cows, and the list goes on.

The schoolchildren visiting, their faces alive with curiosity and the essence of the agricultural show, is always one of the highlights. They learn about hay bailing, cow milking, growing things, and above all they reconnect with all of the activities that are part of the historic essence of our region. One of the themes is to create an awareness in the community about the need to retain, maintain and sustain our agricultural assets. The school visits are an essential part of this.

In the showgirl competition, which some may scoff at and think old-fashioned, the young women explore a part of their local environment they perhaps had never ventured into before. Traditionally, the showgirls were young women of the land, but this has been expanded. The result is that these young women are opening their eyes to the need for our agriculture to be known and seen as a very significant part of Australian life. Thank you to everyone for attending and helping to organise sponsoring—each one being part of the overall success.

Finally, let me describe the absolute rapture that can be seen on the faces of those standing around the ring during the fireworks display or other fascinating competition events—from babies to tired toddlers, families and the elderly, with their uplifted faces looking at the flares and flashes. For that instant, they are carefree and the happiness is clear to everyone.