Friday, 20 October 2023

Roseworthy Old Collegians Association Annual Dinner

Rod and I are very pleased to join the Roseworthy Old Collegians’ community for this dinner to celebrate 125 years of the association.

What better place to do this than the great dining room at Roseworthy Hall, at the Roseworthy campus of the University of Adelaide in the town of Roseworthy, a town with a singular purpose as home to Australia’s first agricultural college.

I thank the old collegians for organising this evening’s event, in particular President Richard Turnbull, and for all members who devote their time and energy to the association.

I note this year also marks the 140th anniversary of the commencement of classes at Roseworthy Agricultural College and next year the University of Adelaide’s Sesquicentenary. Your founders were quick off the mark.

Being amongst people who have dedicated their lives to agriculture reminds me of a road not taken.

After I completed an economics degree at the University of Adelaide, heading to Roseworthy Agricultural College to undertake a Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology, with the goal of becoming a winemaker, was a real career option for me.

While at university I’d worked at The Cork and Cleaver in Glenunga, and at a Barossa winery on weekends, and had taken wine appreciation classes. I could see a future for myself in wine.

In the end, however, I received an offer of a graduate position in the Department of Foreign Affairs and I took the job. I did so lugging 48 tasting glasses and five dozen bottles of good South Australian wine, bought with waitressing tips, to Canberra with me! Among them was a bottle of Grange Hermitage, purchased for $14.99 from the East End Cellars.

By the time I left on my first posting – to Hong Kong – 18 months later, it had all been drunk, though I have continued to make use of the tasting glasses.

While I have enjoyed a very rewarding career, I cannot help sometimes – especially when visiting one of South Australia’s many beautiful wineries and here tonight – feeling slightly wistful about where that life path might have taken me.

Fortunately, large numbers of other would-be winemakers and viticulturalists were not so easily swayed by the prospect of the cocktail circuit and stuck to their Roseworthy guns.

As a diplomat, and now as Governor, I have had and have the privilege of being able to support Australia’s and South Australia’s agricultural and wine industries internationally.

In the process I have developed a huge respect for Roseworthy’s education and research in dryland agriculture, animal production and viticulture.


I congratulate Dr Graham Mitchell, Peter Clark and John Dawkins on the honours they have received this evening.

I thank them for their contributions to the local and national landscape through their work in immunology, animal conservation and politics and international trade negotiations respectively.

Over the years, the Roseworthy Campus of the University of Adelaide has produced many notable alumni, who have strengthened our state’s reputation for world-class agricultural products, in particular food and wine.

Further evidence can be seen in the King’s Birthday Honours list.

Two recipients of a Medal in the Order of Australia for their services to viticulture and oenology, Ms Vanya Cullen and Mr John Ellis, are Roseworthy Graduates.

A quick look at the association’s pages of the university website also reveals many graduate stories profiling individuals who have started successful wineries, made research discoveries and developed new farming practices, many travelling the world with their work.

One would expect no less from graduates of Australia’s oldest agricultural tertiary institution.

I’m also pleased to say I also have a personal connection to your alumni, with relatives on my mother Jennifer Cashmore’s side who are Roseworthy graduates.

Today, agricultural studies take place at the university’s Waite Campus, and Roseworthy produces a new generation of outstanding graduates through its School of Veterinary and Animal Science.

While the study of agriculture may have moved on from these surrounds, the association plays a vital role in keeping alumni connected and celebrating their achievements.

I thank the Roseworthy Old Collegians’ Association for its dedication to alumni and congratulate its members once again on reaching this important milestone.

I look forward to seeing the Roseworthy Campus continue to evolve as a vital and historic part of our tertiary education system, a campus with a proud history, recognised loyally and enthusiastically in all its various dimensions by your association.

Coming events