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Thursday, 21 May 2020
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales

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Welcome to Government House.

It is a pleasure to welcome you, as Patron, to this Royal Society of New South Wales ‘webinar’.   

Indeed, it seems entirely appropriate as we explore our topic today with ‘zoom’ technology that the subject of this webinar is all about charting the known and the unknown.

In paying my respects to the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, their Elders past, present and emerging, who are the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which Government House stands, I acknowledge them and the peoples of the other Indigenous nations of our State, the original explorers of this land and its surrounding waters. 

Little attention has been given historically to the pivotal role of Bungaree, skilled in diplomacy, an expert linguist and guide and from the Eora Nation, in Matthew Flinders’ mapping of the Australian coastline, creating, as we know, the first complete map of Australia. Bungaree had sailed with Flinders in 1799 on the Norfolk on the voyage north to Queensland.[1]  

He then sailed with Flinders on the HMS Investigator circumnavigating Australia. The journey commenced in 1801[2], Bungaree again acting as the crew’s interpreter and guide using his knowledge of Aboriginal languages and protocols to negotiate peaceful meetings with local people at various places during the voyage. There is no doubt that Flinders would not have completed the journey – or the first map of our continental landmass – without Bungaree’s assistance, knowledge and skills.[3] 

Tonight, I greet you from my office here at Government House on the occasion of the inaugural Ideas@theHouse lecture. 

Since becoming Governor in May 2019, I have been keen to explore ways in which the history of Government House, its architecture, its rooms and its grounds can be enjoyed by more people and in different ways.  Hence the concept of “@theHouse” was born.

We have Music@theHouse, including Jazz@theHouse on the first Sunday of each month – that is, when we’re not locked down.  We welcome all of you to come along to Government House, wander the gardens, sit on the Arcade and listen to jazz between 12 and 3.30 on any of those Sundays.  

With NSW@theHouse we celebrate the wonderful produce of our State which, as we know, is unsurpassed in quality.  This year, or next, depending upon when we get back into the swing of things, we will principally focus on food and wine from bushfire-affected areas. 

Then there are Opportunities@theHouse, where we seek to enhance career and employment opportunities for disadvantaged people in our community and to engage with the business community, and educational, medical and scientific research organisations.  

Which brings me to tonight.  Ideas@theHouse is another of these exciting initiatives.  Ideas@theHouse is intended to engage with matters of intellectual interest.  New South Wales is home to some of the best academics and experts in the world across many disciplines and I have found that people from all walks of life are interested in a wide variety of topics – anything from artesian basins to cartography to zoology.   

In short, I have found that we - as a community - have a thirst for knowledge and we seek out sources which educate us and which make us question and enquire. 

It is fitting, therefore, that the Royal Society, whose motto is “omnia quaerite” - “question everything” - has taken up the challenge of presenting the first “Ideas@theHouse lecture - with the additional challenge of presenting it remotely!

I am sure you will find it interesting and stimulating and I look forward to you joining us for more Ideas@theHouse - hopefully, in person, but, if need be, remotely - as we are meeting tonight.

[3] Bungaree (c. 1775-1830) was an Eora man from Broken Bay, north of Sydney. He played a key role in Australia's early coastal exploration. Accompanying Matthew Flinders on HMS investigator between 1802-1803, Bungaree became ‘known’ as the first Aboriginal man to circumnavigate the continent. As part of this trip, Flinders was able to create the first complete map of Australia, filling in the gaps from previous cartographic expeditions. He regarded Bungaree as "a worthy and brave fellow" who saved the expedition on more than one occasion.

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