FROM Afghanistan to Tathra – it’s not surprising US Consul General Hugo Llorens described it as “intergalactic travel”.
One of the United States’ top diplomats in Australia visited the Far South Coast on Thursday and Friday to meet with council representatives and local business and community leaders.
On Friday morning, that included breakfast with local lifesavers and Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) representatives on Tathra Beach.
It was a far cry from his posting as the Assistant Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan – the position he held before arriving at the Sydney consulate around eight months ago.
“It’s interesting that the Consulate General in Sydney was established in 1836, making it the oldest continuous US diplomatic presence in Asia-Pacific,” Mr Llorens said on Friday.
Mr Llorens said his position as “the US’s man in NSW” also sees him responsible for Queensland and Norfolk Island.
“It’s my job to know everything about the regions and the people,” he said.
“It’s not about Sydney.
“I’ve been meeting with members of the many communities and I’ve learnt a lot
“This is the farthest south I’ve been in NSW – I very much wanted to see Bega and Tathra.
“The mayor has been very kind and given us a rundown of the area and the council’s strategic direction.
“There’s a diverse population here and interests from agriculture to industry, and it seems people want growth, but in a sustainable way.”
Mr Llorens said his visit to local dairy farms was fascinating, as was meeting with Indigenous Elders and their insights on the Bundian Way.
He said he was also “very impressed with the region’s big commitment to renewable energy”.
CEFE founder Matthew Nott was pleased to be able to present the group’s work with renewable energy in the Tathra community – including showing off plans for the IMAGINE solar farm soon to be constructed.
“Regardless of climate change, renewable energy makes economic sense,” Mr Nott said.
Mr Llorens said affordable energy was crucial for building economies and needed leaders – “the people who put themselves on the line” – to make the push.
Mr Llorens, his wife Lisett and guests at Friday morning’s small breakfast gathering were welcomed and thanked by Tathra Surf Life Saving Club president Scott Meaker, whereupon the role of volunteer lifesavers as “local heroes” was compared with the paid lifeguards in the Consul General’s home state of Florida.