Catriona Rowntree launches Umbrellas of Bermagui

THE self-described “most travelled woman in Australia” Catriona Rowntree on Sunday launched the Umbrellas of Bermagui project.

The project involves 15 big umbrellas being painted by artists in a wide variety of themes, thanks to the sponsorship of Bermagui businesses.

The umbrellas will be auctioned off at the Bermagui Seaside Fair on March 8 to raise funds for the long-awaited Bermagui skate park.

The good news is that construction of the skate park could begin as soon as next month with council and an expert planner now on board.

Catriona was this year’s Australia Day ambassador for the Bega Valley Shire and after attending the ceremony at Cobargo, she arrived at Bermagui to launch the umbrella project.

She quickly became absorbed by the umbrellas all lined up in front of the Bermagui Country Club, getting an explanation of each artwork by the organisers and the artists.

Her young son Andrew chose as his favourite the forest and mountain themed umbrella painted by Bermagui local Anh Thu Stuart because it reminded him of his own home in Victoria that also had forests and the You Yang granite ridges.

Catriona said she really loved the Far South Coast area, choosing it herself for her Australia Day duties and also her holiday, as she was staying the area for the rest of the week.

She had visited numerous times for her Getaway travel show, but also many years previously for the show Wonder World as someone in Bega reminded her earlier on Australia Day.

“As Australia’s most travelled woman, I can say that you know what you have here is the envy of the world,” Catriona said.

“It is natural and cannot be paid for – you experience it every day and must have done something right in a previous life to be living here.”

She was also impressed with Michelle Dedlefs intricate, hand-stitched umbrella also inspired by the local forests and native wildlife.

And she said she had a special connection to Paul Fletcher’s Tibet themed umbrella, saying she had travelled to that region and had a special connection to its peoples.

The locals seemed quite taken with Catriona with Bermagui Country Club golfer Wayne Burke taking a break from the club’s Australia Day barbecue to show her his Aussie onesie.

And Bevan Cursley convinced Catriona to pose for a photo in his 1958 Austin Healey convertible sports car.

Event coordinator Dennis Olmstead of Bermagui got the umbrella art idea from Harbert, Michigan in the USA, and it is believed that this will be the first time in Australia that this type of fundraiser has been implemented.

For information, phone Dennis on 0477 058 780.

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