THE 2018 Stratfords of the World reunion has been hailed a huge success.
Visitors from Stratfords in the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Ontario and Prince Edward Island in Canada all met in Stratford, Victoria, and got to see the best of Gippsland.
Stratford Sister Cities Victoria president Kevin Waddington said he had been told his group had raised the bar for the other Stratfords.
“I’ve been told I have to go to Ontario (in 2020) — they want to get even with me,” he laughed.
“The highlight ... I think it was the concert on Sunday night, because it was a demonstration of wonderful artistry from every single Stratford.
“They put on some terrific items.”
A trip to Lakes Entrance featured lunch on Raymond Island, supplied by the Bundalaguah CWA, which allowed the visitors to see koalas and echidnas, ticking a lot of boxes.
On the way home, the group stopped at Strathfieldsaye at Perry Bridge, where mobs of kangaroos roamed across one of Victoria’s oldest farms.
A day trip to Walhalla was another favourite, as it included a trip on the restored railway.
Mr Waddington said community groups from across the district had pulled together to put together something special.
“The Lions Club held the farewell breakfast for us (Tuesday) morning, and there was a wonderful Tiger Moth aerobatic display to finish,” he said.
“Everybody was involved, collaboration right across the line; no one wasn’t prepared to help.”
Many of the visitors had been looking forward to reaffirming friendships, and making new connections.
Gail Gonya, from Connecticut, was at her first reunion.
“So far it’s wonderful — we’re having a great time,” she said at the welcome reception.
“I’m really interested in the flora of Australia; the flowers are just so different here.”
Another American, Jackie Partridge, said she couldn’t wait to catch up with Briagolong’s Jessie Walker.
“This is our first time to this Stratford,” she said.
“I saw a wombat yesterday, and I was so excited.
“They’re much bigger than I thought, and there’s huge pelicans here.”
The hosts were also excited.
Neville Guttridge opened his home to two visitors from New Zealand.
“This is the first time we’ve been involved, but it’s a fabulous idea,” he said.
“We have been emailing them quite frequently, and they’ve had an interesting trip.
“They arrived in Darwin about two weeks ago and travelled down to Adelaide on The Ghan, and we’re still working on how to top that.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with the 2020 event is encouraged to get in touch through the Stratford Sister Cities Victoria website.