I was privileged to attend the Australians of the Year fiftieth anniversary dinner at Parliament House, Canberra. Sumptuous.
Over pre-dinner drinks, I chatted with the exuberant Sir Gustav Nossal and Prof Peter Doherty, a delight. I introduced myself to the legendary Sir Jack Brabham, who has since sadly passed away, and his wife Lady Margaret.
Dinner was held in the Great Hall where Arthur Boyd’s magnificent tapestry captures the spirit of the Australian bush. There were 45 round tables, each with 8-10 guests. I was seated next to an ex-Royal Australian Navy man who was in charge of all the household operations at Yarralumla. Fascinating career move.
A fanfare played and we rose from our seats. The Governor-General Quentin Bryce made her entrance in a dazzling hot pink suit. Ray Martin kicked off proceedings, there was a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and away we went…
Dinner was served.
For entertainment we had the pick of two former Australians of the Year. John Farnham nailed an incredible version of You’re the Voice. And Judith Durham from The Seekers sang The Carnival is Over, filling the hall with her extraordinary voice. Tom Keneally gave a heartfelt and suitably provocative address.
Towards the end of the evening, I rocked up to two of my favourite sporting people who didn’t know me from a bar of soap. The first was Shane Gould. The second was Steve Waugh. I told him I’d seen him play at Drummoyne Oval back in 2003. ‘Against Tasmania’, he said. The man has a memory. Well, he did score a century that day…