Journal: 2 September 1999

I shall be writing an account of our trip round the north of Australia separately. We finally got to Fremantle last Thursday evening and spent a couple of days there, washing clothes full of red dust and other mundane tasks, as well as seeing old friends there. But I managed also to catch up briefly with David Miliband, the head of the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street, who was visiting Australia as a guest of the Australian Government.

I flew back to Canberra on Sunday and then drove to Sydney on Monday for the English Speaking Union's World Members' Conference. I had wondered in advance how on earth it would be possible for all the various speakers not to cover the same ground again and again. But I was pleasantly surprised. The opening dinner featured speeches from the Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Relations, (Evelyn Sharp), the Governor of New South Wales (Gordon Samuels) and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth (Chief Ameka Anyaoku) who all spoke from very different perspectives. And they left me plenty of opportunity to cover some ground of my own in a speech at the lunch the following day. Otherwise I attended some of the Conference sessions and caught up with work at the Consulate in Sydney - where the new Consul General, Peter Beckingham, had taken up his post while I was away.

Katie had flown in on the red-eye from Perth, arriving at 6am on Tuesday and we drove back to Canberra on Wednesday morning, when she promptly dashed off to Mongarlowe to pick up Holly. Sue, who had been looking after Holly, said everyone there wanted to keep her and so were plotting Katie's demise - and as I write she hasn't returned yet!

I'm slowly catching up with what's been happening while I've gone, though Andrew Pocock in my absence seems to have sorted everything out very effectively.

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