Murgon’s Leah Purcell had the Rotary audience spellbound as the first guest speaker at the conference on Saturday morning … she received a standing ovation at the end of her talk

March 31, 2021

It was an absolute buzz! That’s how Kingaroy Rotary Club president Katharine Butcher summed up the historic District 9600 Conference held in Kingaroy at the weekend.

More than 350 Rotarians registered to attend, ensuring accommodation was tight across the South Burnett.

They came from across the District, which includes part of south-east Queensland as well as the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 travel bans meant the international visitors who had originally intended to visit could not, but there were two PNG representatives who had been in Australia for many months.

“It was a fantastic conference,” Kat said.

“I have been getting reports from Rotary members across the District that it was the best conference they’ve been to in years.

“Conference chair Tim Keeler and his wife Gail (from Ipswich) put blood, sweat and tears into it. The work they did was absolutely incredible.”

Kat also thanked all the sponsors, the sound technicians and the down-to-earth guest speakers who had won over the audiences.

“Kingaroy should be very proud of what it delivered,” Kat said.

“And I am super proud of our club members. Our guys didn’t stop all the weekend.”

The get-together of Rotarians was historic as not only did it mark 100 years of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand, it also was the very last conference that District 9600 will hold.

As part of a worldwide reorganisation, District 9600 is amalgamating with the District 9630 (south-east and western Queensland) from July 1 to form District 9620.

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Kingaroy Library

On Friday, two of the Rotary conference guest speakers chatted with members of the public at book readings in Kingaroy Library.

Rick Morton formerly covered national affairs for The Australian newspaper and has written three non-fiction books, including a memoir “One Hundred Years Of Dirt”, which was shortlisted for the National Biography Award in 2019.

Logie-winner William McInnes is well-known for his roles on popular TV shows such as Blue Heelers and SeaChange but has also written 14 books including four novels.

Actor, author and raconteur William McInnes was in fine form at Kingaroy Library on Friday, reading from his book “That’d Be Right” … William was another one of the very popular speakers at the conference
Guest speakers Rick Morton (third, from left) and William McInnes (far right) did book readings at Kingaroy Library as part of their visit to town for the conference … they are pictured with Rick’s mother Deb, left, and John and Wendy Tully, from Kingaroy (the Tullys knew the Mortons in western Queensland when Rick was just a boy)

* * *

Council Chambers

Two of the guest speakers from the conference were invited to meet Council staff and invited guests at the Council Chambers on Friday afternoon.

Members of the South Burnett Suicide Prevention Working Group (SBSPWG) were particularly keen to hear from guest speaker Tamsyn Rosenberg, from ALIVE, a group dedicated to suicide prevention.

Ms Rosenberg spoke about her work at the conference and the SBSPWG was selected as the recipient of the funds raised through the raffle of a motor vehicle donated by Huston Motors.

Tamsyn Rosenberg with Cr Danita Potter on Friday … Tamsyn was another of the key guest speakers at the conference; she is an author, coach and CEO of ALIVE, a group dedicated to preventing youth suicide
Tamsyn met with members of the South Burnett Suicide Prevention Working Group at the Council Chambers as well as leading sessions for staff at Kingaroy State High School … from left, SBRC General Manager Community Peter O’May, Cr Kirstie Schumacher, school-based youth health nurse Kayla Waugh, Tamsyn, SBSPWG chair Cr Danita Potter, Nick Krauksts (South Burnett CTC) and Cameron Donohue (South Burnett Care)
Caroline and Tony Doevendans were also special guests at the Council Chambers on Friday … Tony Dee (his stage name) was another one of the inspirational guest speakers at the conference as well as providing musical entertainment for attendees

* * *

Bethany Dinner

Rotarians headed out to the Bjelke-Petersen property ‘Bethany’ on Friday night as part of a welcome to Kingaroy organised by Kingaroy Rotary Club members in conjunction with the Coolabunia State School P&C.  

The dinner was a fundraiser for the P&C and volunteers worked hard to prepare the food and host the barbecue dinner.

Earlier in the day, many of the Rotary visitors also enjoyed a round of golf at Kingaroy Golf Course.

Past District Governor Carolyn Krueger, from Peregian Beach, and Past District Governor John Lane, Paddington, at the Rotary dinner at ‘Bethany’ on Friday night
Laura Iseppi, from Mount Samson, and “Wing Wolfington” were enjoying the barbecue dinner

Local singer Steve Peterson was providing the live music at ‘Bethany’

Kingaroy Rotary’s Ray Pitt was helping at the gate on Friday night, making sure everyone had signed in
Nim and Jiten Prasad, from Brisbane … Jiten is a Past District Governor of District 9630, the District which is being amalgamated with 9600 to form 9620
Former South Burnett councillor Ros Heit volunteered to help drive around the guest speakers and get them to their various gigs on time … Ros is pictured with Tony Dee and his wife Caroline and conference chair Tim Keeler
The crowd at ‘Bethany’ enjoyed a sit-down meal with the lights of Kingaroy shining as a backdrop

* * *

Conference Opening

The official opening ceremony for the District 9600 Conference was held on Saturday morning at KPAC at the Kingaroy State High School.

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto was given the honour of officially opening the conference after speeches by District Governor Neil Black and Doug St Clair, from the Sunnybank Rotary Club, who was representing Rotary International president Holger Knaack.

Attendees enjoyed a string of guest speakers on Saturday and Sunday morning before the conference wound up at lunchtime.

Students from Kingaroy State High School took part in a flag ceremony at the conference opening on Saturday morning

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto officially opened the conference

Emcee (and would-be comedian) Greg Forster, from Ipswich City Rotary, kept the conference moving
From July 1, Wendy Protheroe will be the District Governor for the new, amalgamated Rotary District 9620 … Wendy is pictured with Member For Nanango Deb Frecklington who was a special guest at the conference opening
Kingaroy State High School students provided the musical entertainment for Rotary visitors on the first morning of the conference
District 9600 Governor Neil Black hands the microphone to Mayor Brett Otto for the opening ceremony with special guests Kingaroy State High School principal Ashley Roediger and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington
The Kingaroy Performing Arts Centre (KPAC) at Kingaroy State High School was filled with delegates from Rotary clubs across District 9600 (and beyond) for the conference

* * *

Saturday Night Dinner

Three hundred Conference attendees – the maximum allowed – attended the sold-out Conference Dinner on Saturday night at the Kingaroy Town Hall.

The auction of a donated Azerbaijani silk tapestry raised $5000 on the night.

Jo and Josh Gadischke, Kingaroy, with District 9600 Governor Neil Black … Josh was a guest speaker at the conference on Sunday morning
Karla Gordon (Year 12) and Samantha Giollo (Year 11) were among the Kingaroy State High School Certificate II Hospitality students who helped out at the coffee cart on Saturday morning and at the conference dinner on Saturday night
Conference attendees enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and canapes in the Kingaroy Town Hall forecourt – and listened to live music from Tony Dee – ahead of the conference dinner inside the hall
Tony Dee shared some crooner favourites for the pre-dinner crowd
The Kingaroy Town Hall looked a treat for Saturday night’s dinner

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