Thursday, 26 May 2022

It is my great pleasure to be with you all this evening, in the beautiful Mortlock Library, to present the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia awards for 2022.

I need to confide, at the outset, that I was not a formal student of geography in senior school or beyond – unless you count the year I spent on exchange in the Netherlands where I learned extensively about the geography of Soviet Union, all in Dutch!

I was however an enthusiastic member of the Society in Hong Kong in the 1980s while on my first diplomatic posting, and attended occasional events in London while I was posted there.

Joining the Society proved an excellent way to gain a broader view of the culture in which I was living, and of course to meet wonderful new people and to form personal networks.

As you all know, the South Australian Society has a long and rich history, dating back to 1885.

A significant amount of the exploration of inland Australia was conducted with its sponsorship, and the Society also had a strong focus on capturing indigenous culture in its early publications.

I’m told your collection, housed here in the State Library, retains more than 1200 items in relation to indigenous peoples and culture, among them materials from first contact with Aboriginal peoples, such as photographs and sound recordings.

As Governor one of my key focus areas is reconciliation and, as part of this, I have a keen interest in cultural mapping.

I recently visited Lot 50, known as Kanyanyapilla, in McLaren Vale, an ecological and cultural regeneration project led by Dr Gavin Malone, a cultural geographer and artist, and Mr Karl Telfer, a senior cultural custodian of the Kaurna people.

They are rehabilitating the land, an ancient Kaurna Meyunna campground, which includes a reed swamp and grassy woodland.

It was fascinating to learn about the many meanings, histories and narratives that are, and have been, associated with this land.

I encourage you to visit to the site.

During my term Government House will also undergo a cultural mapping process to understand more about the Kaurna people’s relationship to our grounds, and I hope your Society may have a contribution to make to this process.

Friends;

This evening we celebrate a number of bright and talented students who have excelled at their geography studies.

Some of you are in secondary school, while others are pursuing tertiary studies, or even careers, such as urban planning, in the field.

Thank you for your commitment to this important subject and my sincere congratulations on your awards - I look forward to presenting them in a few moments.

I also thank the Royal Geographic Society of SA, and the Lewis family, for continuing to make these awards possible.

Your efforts to promote the advancement of geographical science have been, and will continue to be, of great benefit to our community.