October 17, 2017

Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (16:23):  I would like to seek leave to table the story of Lennie Gwyther.

Leave granted.

I’d like to speak to that. Congratulations to Leongatha on the presentation and unveiling of the statue to Lennie Gwyther and his horse Ginger Mick. Lennie had a dream at nine years of age to ride from Leongatha/Koonwarra to Sydney for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At nine years of age, he did that after his father gave him permission.

In attending the function, there was his sister Beryl Ferrier, sister Leta Gardenal, daughter Mary Gwyther, granddaughter Sally Gwyther, sister-in-law Shirley Gwyther and brother Keith, and many other relatives and friends from near and far. Bob Newton, a local councillor and former mayor, had a dream that he would like to see a statue of Lennie Gwyther in Leongatha. Along with his committee members, the Leongatha Chamber of Commerce’s Peter Watchorn, Brenton Williams and Glenn Wright, Gordon Morrison, along with the Leongatha Historical Society’s Andrew Sage, Peter Farrel, who did the concrete with Jim Newton, the McDonald brothers, who did the lighting, C&L Stainless, who did the plaque and helped with the lighting, and T&M Southern Cranes—everybody got into it from Leongatha and supported this tremendous opening.

Probably the highlights of the day were the shire brass band. Certainly Jessica Stein and the children from the Leongatha Primary School were an absolute highlight of the event and they should be congratulated for their presentation. It was a most memorable day in the heat and I think I’m still sunburnt from the day because in the end we weren’t undercover. Huge congratulations go to Leongatha. Lennie Gwyther actually shook the hand of the Prime Minister on his way through from Koonwarra. He was attacked by vagabonds and he survived a bushfire. You can imagine the rain and hail and slush he went through, and he arrived to great accolades at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There’s a photograph of Lennie Gwyther, nine years of age, riding his horse Ginger Mick across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was most amazing. A lot of the kids on Saturday had the Lennie Gwyther storm hat on that he had worn all that way. I got the nine-year-old children up around me and said to the whole crowd, and there were hundreds of people there, ‘Have a look at these children, they’re nine years of age; this is the age he hopped on a horse and went from Koonwarra to Sydney.