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Our 2017 Weekend Gathering was held at Pucks Ridge Retreat, Bellingen, NSW.

It was a very enjoyable weekend even although the numbers were small. Mike and Maureen travelled down from Russell Island in Qld and Colin and Sandy came all the way from Ballarat in Victoria. It was nice to see that Sandy was on the road to recovery after her particularly difficult year with her health. She looked great! John Comber travelled up from Nowra, and Carmel and I came up from Cessnock. The weekend was arranged by Vicki who lives in the area and she made us all welcome by providing a lovely dinner on the Friday evening.  It was the first time that I can recall when there were equal numbers of ladies and men! After the evening meal on Friday we all just sat on the patio and chatted away about the year past, enjoying the company over a few drinks. The annual general meeting was postponed until the next morning.

We woke to heavy rain on Saturday, so the meeting took place after breakfast. Later in the day, some of us ventured into the town and enjoyed the ambience of the village.

In the evening, after our usual barbeque, we were pleasantly joined by Vicki’s guitar teacher Yhan who gave us all a song or two from his repertoire. Then he had Vicki join him for two John Denver numbers they had been rehearsing: ‘I Guess he’d Rather be in Colorado’ and ‘Darcy Farrow’. Then the sing-along began with Colin and me, and some occasional assistance from Yahn and Vicki. Everyone had an enjoyable evening and a few of us survived till midnight.

The next morning was a little hectic because we had to vacate the premises early as there was another group coming in, so it was “all hands on deck”. Vicki had invited us all to her place for breakfast and we were planting the tree in that area later, when we arrived at Vicki’s she introduced us to two friends of hers. Colin, who did the painting in her house, and his wife Marilyn who joined us for the morning.

After a lovely breakfast we headed across the road to a peaceful little area overlooking the Bellingen river. Our 'official digger', John Comber, prepared the hole and the banksia tree was planted by Sandy. The area is cared for by the residents who live there so Vicki assured us the tree shall be well looked after. Vicki also mentioned that two sea eagles fly into the area every afternoon, so no doubt they shall be keeping watch over the tree as well.

John Comber made special mention of the 20th anniversary, and said a few words on our behalf, he thanked everyone for their attendance, after the short ceremony and the usual sad goodbyes, we all made our way home, except for Colin and Sandy who were venturing on a well deserved Pacific Cruise.

All in all, a very relaxing time enjoying each other’s company, and looking forward to heading to the southern highlands again next year for our 2018 gathering.  See you all there!!

The hand-made quilt was won by Carmel Wilson
All proceeds from the raffle and other donations were given to Peggy McDonald of Higher Ground Raptors.
The raffle earned $156.00
Other donations: $244.00
We donated a total of $500 to Higher Ground Raptors to continue the valuable work Peggy does in rehabilitating injured raptors. and
Take me Home, Country Roads was donated to St Philips Christian College in Maitland, nominated by Alistair Wilson.
Grandmother's Feather Bed was donated to Salisbury State School in Brisbane, nominated by Mike Winnubst.
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