Bega has welcomed back its international guests from sister city Littleton in Colorado, USA, after the pandemic stretched their exchange program out by a year.
The Bega Littleton Citizen Exchange program is also celebrating its 60th anniversary that was officially marked in the year 2021.
The American guests visit Bega every first and sixth year in the decade, and the Australia members of the exchange program visit Littleton in the third and eighth year of the decade.
Bega has now enjoyed a 61-year sisterhood with Littleton, established by former editor of the Bega District News Curly Annabel and former Littleton Independent publisher Houstoun Waring.
It was the first alliance formed between an American and Australia township.
Bega delegation president Phil McDonald has been involved in the program since 1996 and said it was an opportunity for cross-country friendships and socialising.
He said the guests came from a different environment to Bega, Littleton being a largely suburban township with the prairies to the east and The Rocky Mountains to the west.
There have been array of local events planned for the eight visitors who have been billeted out to local homes within the Bega Valley Shire over the next nine days.
READ ALSO: 50 years of Bega Littleton Citizen Exchange
The guests will undertake an historical walk on Carp Street, participate in a tree planting activity in Littleton Gardens, visit rally cars, dine at the Barrack Restaurant at TAFE NSW, go on a whale watching tour, visit the Kameruka Estate, try local beers and eat woodfired pizzas at Longstocking brewery, and visit Bega Valley Public School to learn about Yuin Indigenous culture.
Mr McDonald said most of the visiting delegates were retired, however each year one student ambassador was always selected to attend with the group.
Littleton delegation president Mary Recht said their senior student delegate Nettie Wismer was chosen after making an impressive presentation to their panel and answering a series of questions.
Nettie will present on her town of Littleton at council meeting on Wednesday, October 19.
Ms Recht said while this was not her first trip to the region, it being her fourth visit, she always enjoyed her time rediscovering Bega and its surrounds and rekindling friendships.
She will spend the next three days in Tathra with her host Mr McDonald before moving onto another household to stay for the remainder of the trip.
"It's so different than where we're from in Colorado and it's so refreshing being by the water because we're land-locked.
"Just the camaraderie and the friends that we have here is what keeps me going in the group," she said.
Prior to the group's arrival in Bega, they spent five days in Cairns, tropical Far North Queensland. The group visited the Daintree Rainforest and went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Ms Recht said she was really excited to visit Cairns as she had not been before.
"It was pretty warm, the humidity we're not used to because Colorado is semi-arid," she said.
Unfortunately two of their members were unable to continue onto Bega after medical complications arose while visiting Cairns.
Ms Recht said it was a pleasure to be back after the pandemic had created so much uncertainty around the trip back to Australia. The group's last visit was in March 2016.
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