26 January 2014

AUSTRALIA DAY 2014 SORRENTO, PORTSEA, RYE – 26 January 2014 – speech

Cr Hugh Fraser –  “Mr. John PRENTICE, President of the Sorrento Portsea RSL;  Mr. Joe CANNATELLI, Australia Day Ambassador, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys.

Thank you Mr. President for your kind welcome.

May I welcome you all to Sorrento on the Nepean Peninsula as we celebrate with pride our National Day Australia Day.

Since my election to Council as one of the two councillors for Nepean Ward – the other being Cr Tim Rodgers – this is the first time I have had the opportunity of speaking at Sorrento – which is one of the four towns of Nepean Ward – Blairgowrie, Portsea, Rye and Sorrento.

Our former Governor General and distinguished Australian Sir Paul Hasluck once referred to the importance of our sense of place – where we live where we have our families, our friends, where we work and where we enjoy our leisure. – or as my co- Councillor Rodgers regularly reminds me  – the Nepean Peninsula is a place where we have not been born but where we have all chosen to live.

And that makes the Nepean Peninsula a very special place.

And I should like to acknowledge that this special Australia Day event is being held on the traditional lands of the BOONERWUNG/BUNURONG people who are members of the KULIN Nation.

It is also worth recalling what Lieutenant Colonel David Collins found here on the Nepean Peninsula in October 1803 when he landed here together with approximate 300 convicts marines and settlers here at Sullivan Bay Sorrento and remained here over the summer of 1803 -1804 – exactly 210 years ago.

Arriving off the Heads on 10 October 1803 – his ship the Calcutta stood off in Bass Strait to weather a night when a gale “blew a perfect hurricane between NW and SW. This night of danger and anxiety, was succeeded by a morning beautifully and serene”. Approaching the Heads, the transport Ocean was observed at anchor within Port Phillip and the Calcutta pushed in for the entrance, passing through on a “fair wind and tide”.

That would be an equally fair description of our October spring weather just past and the experience today as our yachtsmen and women pass through the RIP into Port Phillip Bay.

Collins’ first lieutenant James Tuckey made these remarkable observations of the Arcadian world of the Boonerwong/Bunurong people:

“The face of the country bordering on the port is beautifully picturesque, swelling into gentle elevations of the brightest verdue, and dotted with trees, as if planted by the hand of taste, while the ground is covered with a profusion of flowers of every colour…

Aquatic birds are found in abundance in the lagoons, and are black swans, ducks, teal, black and pied shags, pelicans, red bills (a beach bird) and many beautiful varieties of the parrot tribe… fifty different kinds of beautiful moths…”

However, Tuckey was less enamored by “the swamps which are inhabited by myriads of mosquitoes of an extraordinary size.” He then went on to describe “the common fly which swarms almost beyond belief, possesses all the offensive powers of the mosquito, its sting creating an equal degree of pain and inflammation.’

He was, of course, referring to what we now know to be the March fly.

So this Australia Day, it is worth reflecting on this brief four month connection between the Arcadian world and environment of the Boonerwung/Bunurong people and the early British colonists over this summer 210 years ago at Sullivan Bay and to see about us now the neglected and degraded environment of Portsea and Rosebud beaches with their war-like sandbagging and at Rosebud, the builders rubble dumped there on the foreshore with the construction of the Mornington Peninsula freeway.

And now there is to be the construction of a swimming pool on Crown land public foreshore reserve at Rosebud when there are alternative council owned sites.

I encourage you all to join in the debate on that issue on FACEBOOK “Save Rosebud Foreshore”

Today we raise the Australian Flag and give thanks for the peace and prosperity of this great nation.

On behalf of the Mayor and Councillors, particularly Councillor Rodgers and myself, I would like to thank the Nepean Peninsula community, its Australia Day Committee and our sponsors for their outstanding contribution to our celebration of Australia Day.

And I wish everyone a very happy and memorable Australia Day 2014.”