Vic­to­ria the fi­nal leg of royal visit

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

PRINCE Wil­liam has ended his Aus­tralasian nat­u­ral disas­ter tour with crash cour­ses in Aussie rules and Vic­to­rian floods.

At t he s a me t i me he stum­bled into a con­tro­versy that has threat­ened to cause a so­cial rift in a tiny Vic­to­rian com­mu­nity.

Hav­ing wit­nessed the af­ter­math of the Christ - church earth­quake and the Queens­land floods, Prince Wil­liam vis­ited the flood­rav­aged com­mu­ni­ties of Kerang, Ben­jeroop and Murra­bit in the state’s north yes­ter­day.

The sec­ond in line to the Bri­tish throne en­deared him­self to the lo­cals who, as well as en­dur­ing a flood that is still lin­ger­ing, have been hit in re­cent years by a lo­cust plague and a train crash that killed 11 peo­ple.

‘‘ Hav­ing him here was just the tonic for us all,’’ said Sid Hutchin­son from Kerang.

‘‘ We’ve all been through a bit and we’ve all worked bloody hard to keep this town go­ing.’’

The prince’s day in Kerang be­gan with a brief­ing on Jan­uary’s floods and the mas­sive lo­cal ef­fort that saved the town from the f l ood­wa­ter t hat cov­ered al­most a quar­ter of the state.

‘‘ You’ve ob­vi­ously done a mar­vel­lous job,’’ he told the lo­cals and CFA and SES vol­un­teers who worked tire­lessly to build the lev­ees which saved the town and its elec­tric­ity sub-sta­tion.

A crowd of more than 500 greeted him in Kerang and the prince did his best to sat­isfy as many as he could with a hand­shake, a quick word and a po­lite ‘‘ sorry’’ to the scores who ap­pealed for an au­to­graph.

He had a spe­cial word for World War II vet­eran Bruce Hughes, who greeted him out­side the Kerang Me­mo­rial Hall. ‘‘ A very charm­ing, de­cent young man,’’ Mr Hughes said af­ter their chat. Prince Wil­liam also spent a few ex­tra min­utes talk­ing to chil­dren from lo­cal schools.

‘‘ I think he’s go­ing to be the King of Aus­tralia,’’ said Ash­ton from Kerang Chris­tian Col­lege.

‘‘ It was awe­some to see him.’’

About a dozen dis­grun­tled flood vic­tims tried to storm the com­mu­nity bar­be­cue for the prince af­ter be­ing left off the guest list.

Po­lice fi­nally al­lowed them to stand on the far side of the Murra­bit foot­ball ground on the con­di­tion that they not cross the boundary line.

Photo: CRAIG BOR­ROW

PASS: Prince Wil­liam learns the finer points of Aus­tralian rules

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