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Australia Day in Spring celebrated
After a lapse of some years, Australia Day has recently been celebrated in the same grand style it used to be in the good old days before security concerns and other factors became the first priority. So was the case this year as Australia Day in Spring was celebrated with a grand reception hosted by the high commissioner of Australia, Peter Heyward and his wife Susan.
In Spring was added because Australia Day falls on January 26th. And what a good decision it was. The front garden of the hosts residence is abloom with hundreds of roses and other flowers a sight to soothe the hearts and minds of those who attended, while the fancy lights added their own charm as the twilight turned to dusk. At one end of the inner garden a large image of the cameleers was the backdrop to the stage where the official proceedings took place and here too colourful lights provided a colourful celebratory atmosphere there was even a live camel wearing baubles and beads in case anyone wanted to give riding it a try I know the hostess did, declaring it great!
An exhibition of rare photographs of the cameleers that went to work in Australia over a century ago was set up in the veranda, its supporting beams covered with red, white and blue material, the colours of the Australian flag. The photographs were the focus of attention of those who are interested in history. A rough estimate put the guests between 6 7 hundred, which included diplomats of many cadres; Pakistanis from different walks of life and some children from the Mashal Model school for the underprivileged, who sang the national anthem of Pakistan.
The guest of honour was Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Bokhari and he was joined on stage by the other special guests to cut the cake after the national anthems of both countries had been sung the Australian anthem rendered by members of the Chrome act, with the high commissioner joining in. And yes, he can sing!
Addressing the gathering, the host welcomed them to the event whereby the high commission celebrates Australia in Pakistan. That Pakistan and Australia are old friends is clearly demonstrated by the exhibition we are presenting tonight, The Cameleers Australias Muslim Pioneers a collection of historic photographs which tell the story of the role that camels and their handlers, from what is now Pakistan, played in the early development of Australia, he said. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do. Extending a welcome to Australias visiting officials, new Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner for South Asia, Ms Nicola Watkinson; recently appointed ambassador for Counter Terrorism, Bill Fisher who is here for bilateral talks and Les Baxter from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, coordinator of the very successful Australia Pakistan Agricultural Sector Linkages Programme, he said Australia had a development assistance partnership ranging from multimillion dollar, multiyear programs in health and education to small, community projects.
He also mentioned the support Australia is providing to the ECP. We recognise the vital importance of the upcoming elections and see our support not as just for one of your most important democratic institutions but also for you the Pakistani people to help you to exercise this most basic of your democratic roles, he said and concluded by asking guests to enjoy their hospitality and the entertainment by Chrome, who had come from Sydney especially for the occasion and thanking Senator Bokhari; the sponsors; the team from the Marriot Hotel and all the staff from the high commission, particularly his deputy Paul Molloy.
The chief guest thanked his hosts for inviting him; congratulated the Australians present on this special occasion and spoke of the strong bilateral ties between Pakistan and Australia. Donations were given to two NGOs educating underprivileged children and to kickstart the celebrations in earnest, the Chrome threesome came on stage and did their first act. They sing without music, somewhat like Acapella and to say they were different would be an understatement! Nothing like this has been seen in Pakistan before, as far as I can remember and as they moved among the guests, many mobile cameras were taken out to record their act, it was so amusing and enjoyable. A fun evening that will be recalled and remembered for a long time!