I flew out of Melbourne yesterday morning as the sun was coming up over a countryside hung with a shroud of low lying mist. Peering out of the tiny window I could see the headlights of cars streaming along highways and street lights marking the way. I flew into Adelaide over paddocks and houses skirting the edge of the city.
I spent the day in Adelaide with two very dear people, Stephen Matthews and Brenda Eldridge of Ginninderra Press. Stephen is an incredible man who has published over 2,000 books including two collections of my poetry. He was being awarded an Order of Australia Medal at Government House for his services to the publishing industry and I was invited to witness the occassion along with Brenda and two grandchildren.
The ceremony was grand and dignified. It was held in the stately ballroom watched over by an enormous portrait of a youngish HRH Queen Victoria. Facing us was a wonderful window of panes painted with Australian birds, emblems and coats of arms. The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC was friendly and chatted informally with each recipient after presenting their medal. Stephen was filled with emotion and I was so pleased to see him being awarded this honour.
After the ceremony we celebrated with lunch and a glass of proseco at the Guardsman in the restored Grand Public Dining Hall at the Adelaide station. It was a fitting venue for a railway buff such as Stephen and I loved the old booths and frosted glass windows with their lettered signs. The meals were fantastic with huge servings. No wisps of lettuce garnished with a caper berry here. I had an enormous slab of steak with salad and chips which I managed to polish off.
Two of Stephen's friends joined us for lunch and we chatted about the ceremony, oohed over the medals in their case and the certificate in its book bound with purple velvet. It was wonderful to be surrounded by people who love books and writing. We discussed the joys and challenges of publishing unkown and emerging authors as we enjoyed our delicious meals.
It was a one in a lifetime event and an incredible day. What an honour to be invited to share it. Thanks Stephen for all your work over the last twenty-five years to publish unknown authors and bring them to the world. What an achievement!