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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.