WASHBURN, Maine — Ten members of Rotary clubs in Australia recently visited their Maine counterparts including a special night in Washburn. Participating were members from the communities of Barossa Valley, Brownhill Creek, Gawler, Pasadena and Adelaide in south Australia.
The 10 Rotarians represented three Rotary clubs in two districts and especially enjoyed their time in Washburn. The supper consisted of chili, baked potatoes and biscuits, along with whoopee pies. The potatoes were generously donated by Washburn farmer Aaron Turner, and a special thanks for Gene Bragdon for procuring them for Rotary.
The two groups compared their favorite and most common foods, with Australians enjoying oysters to our lobsters, tuna and prawns to our clams and haddock. They also noted the joint shared interest of tourism and industry. The Australians were impressed with the amount and range of our forests, compared to their stark but beautiful desserts and mountains.
The Australian Rotary has approximately the same average attendance and activities as Rotarians in The County. They also made it clear that they had no accent, but rather we did. One particular Australian Rotarian, Bob Triggs, held a clear resemblance to Crocodile Dundee (accent and all).
Both clubs also took time to present and accept Rotary banners from their separate clubs, with small tokens and gifts from the two countries being shared.
This event was under the auspices of Rotary Friendship Exchange. Washburn Rotarian Cindy Richendollar had been a guest last year of the South Australian Rotary. It was suggested that a fund be started to send another local Rotarian, Kermit Fuller, to go “down under” for the next exchange visit.
Those attending the supper included Barry Bott, Joy Thorn, Tess Dahl, Jim Dahl, Dennis Harris, Brenton Hill, Colin Thorn, Lynn Bott, Jan Triggs, Charlotte Griffin, Mary Hill, Cindy Richendollar, Andy White, Richard Watson, Keith Brown, Larry Harrison, Bob Triggs, Kermit Fuller, Stuart Turner and Mike McIntosh.
Much fellowship was exchanged and a special “cheer” of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, OI, OI, OI” was given by the visitors, showing their loyalty to their favorite football team. The Aussies also asserted that the people of Aroostook were great and all had a wonderful sense of humor.
Some of the Australian visitors have toured Russia, the St. Laurence Seaway area, Vancouver, Scotland, England, Turkey, Toronto, New York, Calgary and the Canadian Rockies. On this tour, areas where they met fellow Rotarians included Moncton, St. Stephen, Calais, the host club at Washburn, Presque Isle and on through to Fredericton.
Richendollar served as chauffer for the group with the generous donation of a large van donated by Rotarian Steve Boddy, taking the group through “space,” visiting the various planets seen along Route 1 from Houlton north. They also were able to tour facilities including Irving and Marr farms, Bradbury Maple Syrup Farm, the Nordic Heritage Center, McCain Foods of Easton, Al’s Diner and the wind mills in Mars Hill. The group also enjoyed a potluck supper for all Area One Rotarians including the towns of Presque Isle, Caribou, Mars Hill, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Washburn and Ashland at Nordic Heritage Center, with the menu coming complete with sweet and sour venison, scalloped tomatoes, moose meat loaf, fiddleheads, BBQ Partridge and Willie Drosts’ famous yeast rolls, and the Aroostook County staples of potatoes, franks and beans.
After all was said and done, all clubs agreed that this Rotary Friendship Exchange tour was a great success and should be kept going for many years to come.