Australia is an exotic destination to experience its truly breath taking natural beauty- where the land scape varies from endless sun baked horizons to dense tropical rain forest to chilly southern beaches to the enchanting aboriginal culture. Scattered along the coasts, its cities blend an European enthusiasm for art and food with a laid-back love of sport and the outdoors. I visited Australia first time in May 1996. Again I got opportunity to visit the country in March 1998.

In 1996, I accompanied a high level delegation of the Government of India to undertake a study of the Australia and New Zealand to study sheep farm management, testing facilities, wool marketing system, etc. The delegation comprised of BL Sharma, JP Meena, VN Maira, MD Kaurani, all of them senior IAS officers, Dr.(Mrs.) S Patwardhan, a technocrat on wool research and Thakur Singh Bharmauri an MLA from Himachal Pradesh.  Parveen Patel of International Wool Secretariat (IWS) joined the delegation in Perth and remained with it during Australian leg.

On Satutrday 18th May 96 we boarded flight AI 428 at 9.55 a.m. at Delhi and arrived in Singapore at 6 p.m. In Singapore we stayed at Imperial Hotel Oxyleyrise. I purchased a Sony handycam at famous Mustafa stores.

On Monday 20th May19 96 we arrived at Perth from Singapore by A1 432. We stayed at Kievi Farm Lodge, Williams. International Wool Secretariat arranged transport for the delegation. Dr. Hatcher of IWS and Ms. Rachel Egerton of Wool Programm- Agriculture, WA accompanied the delegation.

In the night I moved around the lodge and spotted a few Kangaroos. While taking some photos they ran away.

On Tuesday 21st May we left the luxurious lodge and reached Great Southern Agriculture Research Institute (GSARI) Kattanning. We interacted with leading woolgrowers. Steve Tunbridge of Research Station told us about sheep management calendar as per a typical farm. Dr. Johan Greef briefed us about breeding of better Merino’s-staple strength, lease flocks and parasite resistance.  We later visited Katanning sheep sale yards. Then we reached Perth after about three-hour drive. We stayed at Sheraton Perth hotel, Perth, Western Australia from 21st to 23rd May 1996. Perth has a beautiful cricket ground besides many tourist attractions.

On 22nd May we attended education programme of the wool CRC and also videoconference.

We visited Cooperative Research Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA). Then we reached Perth and discussed sheep wool industry with Hon. Monty House, MLA, and Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries at Forrest Centre, St. Georges Toe Perth. We visited CSIRO Agriculture Research in W A. We learnt about wool strength research and tour laboratories and animal houses. Then we left CSIRO Floreat for Agriculture Western Australia. In the evening we went for sightseeing tour around Perth. The tram and driver of Perth Tram Company collected the delegation from Agriculture   WA and returned us to the Sheraton hotel. In the night we participated in dinner hosted by the WA Wool Strategy Group at Frasers Restaurant, Kings Park. It was attended by glitterati, including sports stars and their families.

On Thursday 23rd May 1996 we took Qantas flight QF 622 from Perth at 6.50 a.m. and reached Melbourne at 12.15 p.m.Vijay Kumar, Consul General of India, Sydney, joined the delegation at Melbourne. We stayed at hotel Windsor, Melbourne. The Assembly building is located in front of the hotel. Later we visited Australian Wool Testing Laboratory, Kensington. After that we met representatives of Australian Government at Wool House, Parkville. We visited International Wool Secretariat and held discussion with officials.

On Friday 24th May 1996 we visited Bustan, Queens Street, Melbourne. Then we left for Geelong, Elders Ltd. We visited Wool Broker Store, Forest Road, Lara. We are impressed to see rich Wool Museum at Geelong.  Then we visited wool processing research and technology, CSIRO Belmont. We returned to Melbourne. In the night we attended reception hosted by Australia Indian Chamber of Commerce, Inc. at Hollingdale& Page, Collins Street, Melbourne. It was a grand reception. Earlier we met Dr. T.I. Rao, Honorary Consul of India at Melbourne.

The nightlife in Melbourne is memorable. We visited Men’s Gallery and other discos. Melbourne is famous for fashion and glamour.

On Sunday 26th May 1996 we took flight UA 842 at Melbourne at 10.40 a.m. and arrived at Auckland at 4 p.m.

I had visited Australia for first time in May 1996. Again I got an opportunity to visit Australia in March 1998 as part of Jute Manufacture’s Development Council’s participation in the International Textiles Clothing, Footwear and Fashion Accessory Exhibition, Melbourne, 24-26 March 1998 under banner of India Trade Promotion Organization. It was also to participate in the Buyer-Seller-Meets, Sydney, 27-28 March 1998. The thrust products for the TCF International & BSM were identified to be:

  • Fine quality Jute and Jute blended fabrics & home textile made-ups.
  • Floor coverings & decoration articles.
  • Hand & shopping bags.

On Sunday 22nd March 1998 I took flight AI 416 at 10.20 at Delhi and arrived in Singapore at 6.15 p.m. Though my ticket was economy class, it was upgraded to business class as per policy of Air India. I took Singapore Airlines flight SQ 221 departing at 7.45 p.m. and reached Sydney at 7.10 a.m. next day.

Sydney is a great place full of vigour and enthusiasm. I chose to stay at hotel Nikko Darling Harbour, 161 Sussex Street, Sydney. I stayed in room no. 952 which enabled me to have a twenty-four hour breath taking view of Darling Harbour. I could see the Opera House and harbour bridge from my room itself. I left the hotel and Sydney on 26th March 1998.

Sydney is the country’s old city, the economic powerhouse of the nation and the country’s capital in everything but name. It is blessed with sun drenched natural attractions, dizzy sky scrapper buildings, delicious restaurants, exciting nightclubs, superb shopping and friendly people. There are so many tourist places in Sydney. The Sydney Opera House is the most popular tourist destination with our four million people visiting it every year. The grandeur is unmatchable and its architecture is amazing. Another major attraction is the Harbour Bridge, which offers the most spectacular harbour view. Besides visiting these places in daytime I took a cruise at night, which floated past the Opera House and the Bridge. For beach lovers, there are several popular beaches located in the outskirts of the downtown Sydney. Bondi Beach  being the most famous.

Darling Harbour- Day or night, Darling Harbour is full of life. Besides other attractions it has Sydeny Aquarium, IMAX Theatre, etc.

On 23rd March 1998 itself I took a Sydney Harbour cruise of Darling Harbour in night with guide announcing importance of various buildings and structures located on the harbour. The people from all over world were there enjoying the scene of harbour in the night.

Sydney Harbour Bridge : The iconic structure of Sydney and Australia, inaugurated in 1932. The world sees its fireworks on the eve of arrival of New Year. It is world’s tallest steel arch bridge. I made it a point to walk on the bridge for some time. But the winds were strong and I could not walk for long.

Opera House : It is iconic building of Sydney and Australia. It was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1973. Its architecture is amazing. It hosts about 3,000 events every year. About four million people visit this building every year.

TCF International 1998 was held at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour from 24th to 26th March 98. I was leading a team of entrepreneurs representing Hyderabad Apparels, Richie Bags, Cottage crafts, etc. The Australian Exhibition Services organised India Pavilion in the exhibition hall. The inauguration was held on 24th March morning.   The exhibition was meticulously planned and many countries and many companies of the world set up pavilions. I found that China pavilion was giving challenge to India pavilion. Various products were displayed at the exhibition. Besides that fashion parades were held daily from noon to evening. It was the first time that ladies fashion garment of Jute made in India was worn by top Chinese models at the catwalk. This was the time it established that jute is a golden fiber and suitable for use as fashion fabric also. It was a statement that jute has arrived in the world of fashion.

Whenever I could get time I visited Sydney extensively. Besides Imax hall and the aquarium, Darling Harbour had lot of attraction. I went to Opera House and to the Harbour Bridge, which are great marvel of architecture. Local resident say that lifestyle of Sydney is more inspired by American culture.

On Thursday 26th March I boarded flight QF 467 at 8.30 p.m. at Sydney and arrived at Melbourne at 9.50 p.m. At Melbourne I decided to stay at Windsor hotel where I stayed during my earlier visit to the city in 1996. This hotel is not only grand and ideally located but it has Indian connection that it is an Oberoi hotel.  At Melbourne the Buyer-Seller Meet was organized at the Medina hotel. I was curious to know about the reason behind naming the western hotel after Medina a religious place of Muslims. I learnt that the hotel belonged to some Arabian businessman who has leased out management to local Australians. Except the name there was nothing oriental or Islamic in its functioning. In this hotel the Buyer-Seller meet of jute products was organized from 27th& 28th March 98. I was satisfied to see that the visitors purchased all the products and also huge orders were placed to the Indian entrepreneurs.

During my stay at Melbourne I again visited various tourist places. I used to take city tram to cover tourist places such as the popular Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).  I again visited the zoo and saw Kualas and Kangaroos. Australia gives top attention to its flora and fauna.  I also visited various discos and entertainment centres. One of the prominent discos was Men’s Gallery. There was an entertainment centre called Harem.I again visited Queen Victoria Market, Flea and Street Market and purchased Chinese winter full jacket.

On Monday 30th March 1998 I boarded flight MH 120 at Melbourne at 2.15 pm and arrived at Kuala Lumpur at 8.25 pm. After few days break I returned to India.

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