Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Visitors share cultures, friendship

The exchange program between Campaspe Shire and the city of Shiroi has allowed a Rochester couple to make a lot of friends in Japan.

ELAINE COONEY June 27, 2014 3:10am

Noel and Robyn Lucas with gifts they received from their Japanese visitors over the years. Photo: Elaine Cooney

Campaspe Shire is calling for people to represent the shire on its annual visit to Shiroi.

In 1998 the Japanese city signed a friendship agreement with Campaspe Shire and visitors from each location visit host families once a year.

Rochester residents Robyn and Noel Lucas visited the city in 2001 and still keep in contact with their host family.

The Kogures had three teenage daughters when they visited and the youngest, Mari Kogure, is now friends with Mrs Lucas on Facebook.

Mrs Lucas said the best thing she learned about her foreign friends was that all people were essentially the same.

When the Lucas’ visited Shiroi, they were given a special guest room with a tatami mat, so shoes were left outside and they were given bathroom slippers.

Bathing was a sit-down shower followed by a hot scented bath.

Shiroi’s most well-known export is Nashi pears and the pair visited a brandy factory which used the pears in its brew.

The Lucas’ also hosted people from Shiroi over the years and brought them to the Port of Echuca, Kyabram Fauna Park and a shearing shed in Kyabram.

Mrs Lucas said one visitor from Shiroi had limited English, but they enjoyed playing charades and had lots of fun expressing themselves in different ways.

She said the Japanese tourists enjoyed Australian barbecues and even tried some kangaroo.

A Campaspe Shire spokesperson said to go on the Shiroi trip, people did not have to host visitors in return.

She said it was a good opportunity to see another culture while getting to know people from the shire.

The spokesperson said 10 delegates were needed for the trip.

The Shiroi visit is planned for late October and names will be taken by Bobbi Aitken at Campaspe Shire offices on 1300666535.

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