NSW Governor David Hurley was in Gunnedah on Wednesday during a three-day sweep of the region, sharing experiences from his military career, being governor and his faith.
The 38th Governor of NSW collected soil from the Gunnedah Cenotaph for a special Anzac Memorial Centenary Project on Wednesday morning, before visiting the Girls Academy at Gunnedah High School.
The Vice Regal couple then visited Gunnedah Conservatorium to talk music education and students performed a short recital.
His visit culminated in the 2017 Mayoral Dinner at Gunnedah Town Hall Wednesday night, where he delivered an inspiring address as the official guest.
Prior to his appointment, Governor Hurley served for 42 years in the Australian Army, concluding his service as the Chief of the Defence Force.
He was appointed a Companion within the Order of Australia in 2010 for eminent service to the Australian Defence Force, and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership during Operation SOLACE in Somalia in 1993.
Governor Hurley’s visit is part of an annual tour of regional NSW.
“Every month we’ll come out to regional NSW for a three or four-day period to visit two or three towns and do what I think is one of the most important jobs a governor can do – aside from constitutional responsibilities – and that is to simply say thank you to all those in communities in rural NSW who are sustaining the rural way of life,” Governor Hurley said during his address at the Mayoral Dinner.
Governor Hurley said he wasn’t the first Hurley to visit the Gunnedah shire. His father’s side owned a pub in Gunnedah that burned down before the 1950s.
“They came down from Goondiwindi, owned a pub in Coolatai, owned pub here in Gunnedah,” he said.
“It burnt down, they lost all the family fortune, and moved to Wollongong ... So perhaps it’s a homecoming of sorts.”
Governor Hurley left Port Kembla in 1972 to join the Army. He graduated in 1975, and was posted to Townsville at the age of 22.
“I learnt very quickly how to lead,” he said.
“I learnt very quickly that if I didn’t listen, I was going to get nowhere. Listening suppresses your ego. Listening says it’s not about me. Listening says I don't know everything.”
Governor Hurley spoke about the time he lost his first soldier, and the faith that helped him through that and the many others that followed.
“Those experiences, as you can imagine, are extremely profound,” he said.
“You need a core that’s going to sustain you in those difficult times. That core can be many things, but I know my core is my faith.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, as master of ceremonies at the 20th Mayoral Dinner, said it was a great opportunity to celebrate Gunnedah.
Gunnedah Shire Council mayor Jamie Chaffey said it was a great honour for Gunnedah to host “two of the country’s most respected leaders”.
“My pride in our shire grows each and every conversation I have with local residents or visitors, who tell me just how vibrant our community has become,” Cr Chaffey said in his address.
Mayors from surrounding council shires also attended the dinner.