Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:29): I rise to speak about some of the fun and frivolity over the March long weekend up in Chaffey. If the March long weekend is a taste of things to come, Easter has a showstopper about to launch upon us. We all know that the Chaffey electorate is a great place to live and a great place to visit. The March long weekend that has just gone was a great example of how much there is to do and see throughout the Riverland. Also another great show of the resilience of our towns has been to recover and get on with life after the floods. From auto street parties to harvest festivals, there was something for everyone.

The Riverland Auto Street Party saw over 300 collector cars participate in the street party with an estimated 6,000 attendees, both local and interstate. As reported, all the food and drink vans sold out. There were 13 awards presented, including the now famous MP's Choice that went to David Scholz's 1965 orange XP Falcon sedan.

The Riverland Youth Theatre held the Teddy Bears Picnic, a Fringe event presented by Country Arts SA and the Loxton Waikerie Council. It was hosted by Sophie Landau and the Riverland Youth Theatre and kids from around the Riverland had the opportunity to picnic with their friends and their teddy bears and participate in a range of activities, including creating songs and sharing stories.

The March Long Weekend at the Distillery was also another showcase event, including live music, an outdoor can bar, tasting flights and dancing. I must say that the food at the distillery is next level. The Renmark Fire Station Open Day celebrating 20 years was also a great family event to look at the infrastructure and the officers who keep our community safer. The Rustons Fest showcased craft spirits, local produce and food stalls. It too had live music with a lineup of local artists and performers. As I understand it, it was a great outing.

The Ski for Life Saturday community event was held at the Cobby Club with guest speaker Mary O'Brien from Are You Bogged Mate?, which offers an inspiring outlook toward helping mates who are stuck in the mud. It is for mental health and suicide prevention. I must say I have had a number of meetings with Mary and as a public speaker she is outstanding. She is really one of Australia's leading public speakers. The Sunday event was the Renmark Club's Mates on a Mission with speakers Ben and Mike and that included more live music. As you can tell sir, the theme of food, wine, spirits and live music was a core theme to the March long weekend.

The Mallee Harvest Festival, supported by the Rotary Club of Loxton, was a fundraising event to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service Patient Transfer Facility and Bringing Communities Together program. This included a dinner and an auction which raised over $11,500 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It was a great initiative.

Other events that happened over the long weekend were the Riverland Speedway Calperum Hill Challenge, the Barmera markets, which never disappoint, and the Rotary Club of Waikerie's Fringe Twilight Market. That is just a taste for what is coming up at Easter.

The upcoming Easter events, as well as the support from the state government for Rise Up for our River, will be a showcase of what the Riverland region is all about. That will include the Berri Easter Carnival and Breakfast, the Barmera Easter Twilight Market and Open-Air Cinema, the Loxton Easter Picnic as well as the Riverland Speedway Easter Wingless Cup, which is, of course, at the now famous top of Calperum Hill.

The Australian Tourism Awards are also something I would like to give a mention to because the Riverland tourism businesses were well represented at the national awards. We saw both Destination Riverland and Murray River Trails as finalists. The Murray River Trails were in the Eco Tourism category and Destination Riverland was in the Tourism Marketing and Campaigns category. Congratulations to Pamela, Kate and the Destination Riverland Board and, of course, to Tony and Susie Sharley and the entire team at Murray River Trails that were over there. They do an outstanding job. They are a leading ecotourism business nationally, but unfortunately received no awards.

As I have said, Easter is around the corner. Book to ensure if you want to come up and see some of the wonders of the Riverland and, of course, to look at the aftermath of the flood and its environment, because we know that the environment is screaming out to showcase what it has, which is so beautiful.

feature speeches