Vivacious television star Catriona Rowntree says she begged to be Bega’s Australia Day Ambassador.
At Sunday’s celebration in Littleton Gardens, the face of hit TV travel program Getaway for the past 19 years said the Bega Valley Shire had no choice as to who would take on the ambassador duties.
“I was one of four kids and we always came to this part of the coast on our driving holidays,” Ms Rowntree said to a big crowd.
“I take being ambassador seriously because people are so passionate about where we live.”
Ms Rowntree also spoke at the Cobargo Australia Day ceremony and helped launch “Umbrellas of Bermagui” later in the day.
At Bega, Ms Rowntree was an entertaining speaker, her prowess on the PA stemming from a life-long enjoyment of talking!
“When I was at school I was always in trouble for talking, can you imagine that?” she said with a laugh.
Ms Rowntree said many Thursday afternoons were spent in detention for talking during class and she even had a headmistress who told her “you won’t amount to anything”.
However, a new school and a new headmaster were more supportive and while her grades may not have improved much due her continuing to chat away in class, the principal said “you know one day you could be paid to talk”.
“It’s incredible that I’ve been able to make my passion my profession.
“And now after 19 years on Getaway – yes I started when I was six! – I’ve been to the most extraordinary places.
“It’s sometimes not until you leave home that you realise what you have here.
“And I can honestly say from experience, what we have in Australia is the envy of the world.
“So many people would love to go to a bubbler in the park and not be afraid of getting Bali belly; to be able to go to a store like Woolworths and have to choose from a range of items; to have a stable government.
“I can stand up here and say pretty much whatever I like without fear of retribution – you don’t know what a privilege that is.
“Being Australian is incomparable and truly second to none.
“So many people would love to be in your thongs!”
After the official ceremony, Ms Rowntree mingled with fans and snapped photos, as well as taking time out to express her admiration for the work of emergency services including the SES, and dropping into Target Country (for which she has designed a woollen babywear range) to say hello.