Energy of new home inspires rocker

SELF-DESCRIBED American rock-and-roller turned Aussie Brian Ritchie yesterday urged energy, enthusiasm, friendliness and volunteering as a way to carry the spirit of Australia Day through the year.

Ritchie,  the Hobart-based MOFO music festival curator and former Violent Femmes bassist, was named an Australia Day Ambassador at the Henley-on-Mersey festival at Latrobe.

Thousands attended the event on the banks of the Mersey River, which included woodchopping, mini-triathlons, biscuit and cake judging, ferret racing, music, food, archery, cherry spitting and sheaf tossing.

Latrobe Mayor Mike Gaffney also named three Latrobe award winners: Latrobe Lions Club's Peter Burk accepted the Community Event of the Year Award for the club's annual Christmas parade; Grace Bell, 17, was named the Young Citizen of the Year for her volunteering with the Port Sorell Surf Life Saving Club; and Laurence Halley, 83, was named the Citizen of the Year for his interest in preserving the history of Latrobe, and other causes.

Ritchie said that although he and  wife Varuni had only been naturalised Australians for two years, he first visited the state 22 years ago.  ``Australia is a democracy, and one of the wonderful things about living in a democracy is that we can choose to celebrate Australia and being Australian any way we want.''

 Jenny Bauld won the Anzac biscuit cooking competition, with   judge Lesley Young saying the winning entry had a good toffee-caramel-oat taste.

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