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September 2023 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends,

Welcome back after the summer! The weather may not have been great but the sport was brilliant.

The Ashes tests were nail-biting and showed the sport at its best. It was fabulous to see the Australian men’s and women’s teams retaining the Ashes. As I reported in our last newsletter, I was privileged to be at Lord’s for the second men’s Test which provided an outstanding backdrop for “The Politics of Cricket” event with past Prime Ministers John Howard and Sir John Major. For those that could not attend that memorable evening, we have now uploaded a recording to our website and you can access it here. It’s a very high-quality production and a wonderful discussion between two great statesmen and cricket enthusiasts. I know you will enjoy it.

And then there was the football! The High Commissioner generously invited Louise Mulley and I to watch the CommBank Matildas battle it out against England's Lionesses on the big screen in Australia House in the Women's World Cup semi-final. While it was a much deserved victory to the Lionesses, the Matildas won our hearts and showed the brilliant spectacle that women’s sport has become.

And now we have the Men's Rugby World Cup to look forward to.

But the summer was not just about sport. Jacqui and I were thrilled to attend the opening night of the Australian Ballet's London Tour, part of its 60th anniversary celebrations. It was an exceptional performance for the company which has not toured internationally since 2019 and it marked the first time the Australian Ballet had returned to the Royal Opera House in 35 years. The Royal Opera House was sold out for each of the performances and the reviews were consistently outstanding, reinforcing the Australian Ballet as the world class company that it is.

At the other end of the cultural spectrum, Jacqui and I were delighted to be invited by the High Commissioner to attend a celebratory evening at the now iconic "House of Oz" (see photo at left), part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Great credit to Georgie Black for her generous and enthusiastic backing of the event and the hugely diverse Australian talent on show. Georgie was also a huge supporter of the “Season of Australian Culture”, a co-venture between the Australian Government and the British Council in 2021/22 when the award-winning House of Oz was born. Please join us at the House of Oz during the 2024 Festival.

And speaking of exciting cultural events, B-AS Charity Member, the Tait Memorial Trust, invites all B-AS supporters to the UK premiere of "Knowing the Score", a film about esteemed Australian international conductor Simone Young AM on 20 September at the Barbican. For further details and ticket prices, please click here.

Looking forward to our B-AS events, as you know, on Wednesday 13 September, in conjunction with the Office of the NSW Agent General and the Institution of Engineers Australia (UK), we are hosting a major event in the beautiful Brunel-designed Great Hall of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House, one of the great symbols of Australia. We have reached capacity but are pleased to report that we have negotiated a handful of additional spaces for this milestone event. If you would like to attend, we have a limited number of tickets which you can still buy here. Scroll down for further details.

On Wednesday 27 September we have our hugely popular annual President's Reception in the Exhibition Hall of Australia House. We will again welcome our President, Lord Hague of Richmond. For this event, we have asked Australian High Commissioner, HE the Hon. Stephen Smith, to join Lord Hague in a discussion on “Contemporary Foreign Affairs” to be followed by a reception during which our guests will have the opportunity to meet Lord Hague and the High Commissioner. This event is one of our most popular and if you would like to book tickets, please act quickly. Scroll down below for details. We don’t have many spaces left but we will have a waiting list and do our best to accommodate everyone who wants to come along.

There is also a full and varied programme amongst our B-AS Branches around the country. On Friday 13 October our West Country Branch will again host the Admiral Arthur Phillip Commemoration Service and Lunch in Bath. The service itself is held in the beautiful Church of St Nicholas in Bathampton. The church is particularly noted for its Australia Chapel, which celebrates the life of Admiral Arthur Phillip who was buried in the church in 1814. Louise and I have regularly attended. Our board member and West Country Branch Chair, Keith Newton, invites all B-AS Members to attend this special event. Please scroll down for more information, including booking details.

We have two further dates for your diaries. On 2 November the team from the Australian Studies Institute of ANU will return to the Exhibition Hall for the next in the series of our hugely popular First Eight Series focussing on Australia's early Prime Ministers. This year, esteemed academic, Professor David Headon, will discuss the life and times of Australia's first Labor Prime Minister, Chris Watson. And 7 December will close out our (very) busy year with our popular B-AS Christmas Carols at St Mary-le-Bow. Booking details will be released in the coming weeks.

As always, B-AS Members have preferential rates for our events and we always have many more places for our Members. I encourage you always to book as soon as our booking links go live to avoid disappointment. We will always give plenty of notice! And to become a Member of the B-AS and support the work we do, please click here.

Finally, we warmly invite all our Members (both in London and around the country) to attend our 2023 AGM on Monday 26 September, a formal notice and papers for which will be issued shortly. And please do join our Board and office team for a drink after the meeting.

Best wishes

Damian J. Walsh


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