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I am sure that many members would agree that there have been some wonderful outings, marvellous speakers, great fellowship, making all the visits and experiences so worthwhile, entertaining and informative that they have made such a difference to our lives and way of thinking.

For some people attendance at our monthly meetings listening to a guest speaker and a chat at morning tea is an enjoyable outing, but for me and for many others it is the interest groups and trips away  -  be they just for a day or for a few days, that puts the icing on the cake. Interest groups include Gardening, Walking, Cinema, Theatre, Games, Cycling (they call themselves the WHACOs – Wantirna Heights Actively Cycling Oldie) and for a short while around 2006 a Genealogy group.

The first outing was Christmas in July 2004 at the Market Street Tavern, Nunawading. Twenty-three members were joined by Rotary President Jim Fleming, his wife Janet, and two other couples from the Rotary Club of Wantirna. The first bus trip was four days and three nights to Corowa in September 2005. In the lunchtime cruise on Lake Mulwala, our own Max Townsend grabbed the Captain’s cap, the helm and the microphone, but thankfully only for a brief moment!

Would the Werribee sewage farm be on your must see list? Correctly known as the Western Treatment Plant, it was in fact a great trip. We had a guided tour of the Water Discovery Centre and then walked to Lake Borrie, a haven for tens of thousands of protected birds many flying in from all over the world.

The Walking Group has great faith in John Martin, for he can control the weather, especially from 9 to 10 o’clock on a Thursday morning. In all my years with the group I can remember having to walk around inside the Knox City Shopping Centre twice and once around the aisles of Bunnings of Vermont because of rain. Well, sometimes we have needed an umbrella. After the walk there is always a typical Aussie coffee and chat where the girls sit at one end of the table and the boys sit at the other. It is here too that our numbers often increase.

We used to walk along the Koomba track, using the Boronia Road car park until one day we returned to find that every car but one had a window smashed and purses etc. stolen. Val and I were the lucky ones - our car was parked a little further away. After that, the track by Knox City Centre was chosen.

The annual drive to Point Leo has been a highlight since December 2006. As many as 28 drive to the camp sites of John & Di Martin and ours. Here we sit around and chat, go for a beach walk and back again for a BBQ lunch.

For the past 2 years we have enjoyed a trip to Corinella on Westernport Bay to Ruth and David Kemp’s property for lunch and to admire a beautiful panoramic view.

Now, I would just like to mention a few of our better known guest speakers. We have had Peter Hitchener, 35 years at Channel 9, Colin Peasley OAM from the Australian Ballet, Kevin Heinze, gardening guru, Det. Sen. Sgt. Ron Iddles when he was in the Homicide division, and William Ellis Green better known as WEG the cartoonist. During his talk in August 2006, he demonstrated his skill by drawing caricatures of 3 members (I was lucky enough to be included). In our News & Views on the day, President Ken Hayden wrote how one day in 1970 a fellow walked into his Richmond butcher’s shop and offered him a character portrait in return for a leg of lamb and 3 T-bone steaks. Within 15 minutes Ken had his own WEG caricature and for that he threw in 2lb of sausages. 

In concluding let me say that at one meeting, we had the honour of having Queen Elizabeth’s Special Representative (Graeme Harrison) attend to present an OBE (Over Blooming Eighty) to four of our members in July 2010. Since then an OBE to several other members who have also turned eighty.

John Riley

Life Member