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Australia is the luckiest country on the planet says Governor

Australia is the luckiest country on the planet says Governor

His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO, Governor of South Australia said when he and his wife, Mrs Lan Le first arrived in Australia over 38 years ago as boat people, it was a journey they discovered that Australia is the luckiest country on the planet. His Excellency made these comments when he was guest speaker at the Sir Condor Laucke Oration, organised by the combined service clubs of the Barossa and held at Vine Inn Barossa, Nuriootpa last Thursday night.

Mr Rodney Woidt, president of Lions Club of Barossa Valley officially welcomed the 147 people attending. Mr John Falland was M.C.

Special guests included Mrs Rosemarie Laucke, daughter of Sir Condor Laucke and her friend, Mrs Margaret Lehmann and Sir Condor Laucke’s grandsons, Adam and Martin Anders.

In his address, His Excellency told of his challenging journey leaving Vietnam in 1977 with his wife, Lan Le and arriving as the first refugees to land in Darwin.

He acknowledged the dedication of Sir Condor Laucke to whom the Oration had been named after.

He then went on to share some of his journey from Vietnam when his boat arrived in Darwin harbor in 1977.

His Excellency and Mrs Lan Le were just two boat people representing the biggest exodus of people from Vietnam. He said after the Vietnam War an estimated two million people fled the country and less than half survived.

He said of the war, “I was just an infant when the North invaded South Vietnam. It was a war fought with ferocity and destruction. Three million Vietnamese died in the war.

“As I grew into adulthood it was with fewer family and friends because of the war and I realised life is precious.”

Whilst His Excellency was university educated in Vietnam, he soon discovered the brutal rules of the new communists. His life was in continual harassment.

At 21 years he and his wife decided there was no life for them and so they made a plan to flee, not telling anyone.

They left with a fisherman, the journey took a year to plan. In the night they boarded the small fishing boat and in the morning they saw 50 people on a boat that was designed for around half that number.

Amongst those fleeing Vietnam were doctors, lawyers and even fishermen and labourers.

The fishermen confessed that they had no idea where to go and due to the secrecy they took no sea going equipment on the boat at all.

Initially their boat was just circling around in the water and going no where so His Excellency drew a rough map of Vietnam and put forward a solution to go west. He then became the official navigator as the ship reached Malaysia.

On arriving there they were told they were not welcome and were towed out to sea. They tried to go back but each time the coast guard people would tow their boat back to sea.

Eventually they were running short on food and soon water  started seeping into the boat.

The decision was made to abandon the ship and swim to nearby land.

The group decided to head to Australia. They built themselves a new boat and His Excellency became the official navigator.

For the full story see this week’s edition of The Leader.