Governor General David Hurley praises Tenterfield's resilience

He was here for the February fires and hopes he won't be here again in 12 months for the same reason, but Governor General David Hurley with wife Linda flew into the Tenterfield Showground on Monday specifically to thank those who have fought and continue to fight fires in the district, along with the huge contingent of mostly volunteers in support roles.

The Hurleys spent a long time talking with those affected by the fires and with emergency crews, with the Governor General saying later that he's Australia's biggest 'thanker'.

Mayor Peter Petty flew up with the Hurleys from Glen Innes by helicopter before introducing them to staff from council, Rural Fire Service, Disaster Recovery, State Emergency Service, Local Land Services, local community groups and landholders, who have all had a hand in fighting fires or supporting those who do.

"We were thanked in Glen Innes for giving up time but we're not giving up our time," Mr Hurley said.

"This is our job."


Cr Petty said he had been contact by the Governor General's office on the Friday night of the Mt Mackenzie Road fire, and it was a pleasure to have the Hurleys follow up on the commitment made that night to visit the fire ground.

He penned a poem with a potted history of Tenterfield which demonstrated the community's resilience in times of adversity, including the razing of the showground six weeks out from the 1925 show. The show did go on, literally, thanks to the community coming together to make it happen.

Sir Henry Parkes, WH Walker, JF Thomas, and the Tenterfield Saddler also got a mention, although Mr Petty was battling nearby helicopters and water bore drilling to deliver his ode to the Tenterfield spirit.

Mr Hurley said since his appointment at NSW Governor five years ago, and then as Governor General three months ago, he and Mrs Hurley have had a strong commitment to rural and regional Australia. The reason for that is embodied in Mr Petty's poem.

"What happens out here is the heart and soul of what the country is all about," Mr Hurley said.

"Helping to encourage rural communities to stay rural communities, putting a voice for rural communities is really important.

"So when you get hit by disasters -- flood, fire or drought -- it's heartfelt, but we know how strong these communities are. You all go the extra mile every time to make sure, at the end of this, this community is going to be strong, it will still be here, and you're looking after each other.

"We know of course when the present finishes and we've got the long term impact of this on families and community, we know it's a big issues on rural communities.

"So please look out for each other."

He said he's heard all too often, in rural communities, that when someone's offered help they say 'I'm alright but there's this guy down the road you need to worry about'.

"It can't be 'the guy down the road' for everybody," he said.

"Make sure you do look after each other."

He thanked all the workers gathered for their efforts, acknowledging that those present were just the tip of the iceberg.

He made special mention of all the firefighters.

"I know it's your homes, your communities, your friends. I know you have a lot of jobs to do. Those out on properties are feeding and watering stock, so thank you very much."

He said in the speech he delivered when he was sworn in as Governor General three months ago he said that Australia is a very rich country, rich in the non-material sense.

"There's a real richness of spirit, and whatnear we see here today just typifies that, across the board."

He said the best part of his job was to go around and thank people for what they do.

"It's easy to do because we have some great people.

"It's easy to say you're proud of your country, but boy I'm bloody well proud."

He said he'd try to sort out some of the problems and issues that had been brought to his attention, such as insurers reneging on policy coverage.

Mrs Hurley asked Councillor/firefighter/NSW Farmer rep/affected landholder Bronwyn Petrie what city people could do to help. Mrs Petrie urged her to ask people to donate to support groups like the CWA, St Vincents de Paul, the Salvation Army and even BlazeAid, but to ensure that their donation is directed to Tenterfield.

Here's the recitation of Mr Petty's poem, and the Governor General's response. Excuse the drone of nearby firefighting helicopters and water bore drilling.

At the end there's a heartfelt contribution by Mrs Hurley...