It may sound fantastical, but what if I told you some of Australia's most important diplomatic work took place about 15km outside of Braidwood?
Durran Durra resident and Emeritus Professor at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, Virginia Hooker, has been awarded an AM for services to Tertiary Education.
Professor Hooker has been a professor at ANU since 1983 and been present for a lot of Australia's growing relationship with South-East Asia, in particular Indonesia.
Her decorated career has seen her teach, advise and preside over panels all focusing on improving bilateral relations between our neighbours as well as host Indonesian students on her family's property outside Braidwood.
The latter is something the 75-year old is particularly proud of as she reflects on her award.
"At my age it's a really wonderful thing for my peers and colleagues to have nominated me for something I've been doing for a long time," she told the Braidwood Times.
"I'm retired although I still do a bit of work so it was just a wonderful surprise. I'm deeply honoured and like everyone who gets this I feel very humbled.
"I've been privileged to be able to work with Indonesian postgraduate students for about 15 years. I've been part of programs to raise the research level of colleagues in Indonesia through a program where they came to study at ANU.
"Quite a few Indonesians have visited our farm and stayed here and truly appreciated what its like to be outside the big cities."
Her career took off at a time when Australia started moving away from the traditional partnership with the United Kingdom and towards Asia.
After graduating in 1963, she was drawn to Indonesia after ANU became involved in helping to rebuild the country in the 1970s.
"When I was a student, Indonesia was undergoing its most turbulent period in its history," she explained.
"Sukarno was the President then and his nation-building activities brought him to the attention of our newspapers. There was an attempted coup and Indonesia went through a period of great hardship.
"So it was the rebuilding of Indonesia during the 1970s and 80s when places like ANU were trying to help rebuild the economy, education, health and so on.
"I've been very privileged to be part of that effort. Bilateral relations between Australia and Indonesia became a particular enjoyment of mine."
Fast forward three decades and Professor Hooker is bemoaning what she says is something of a decline in engagement with our Asian neighbours.
"The golden years were the 1980s and into the 90s when the Hawke/Keating governments were very aware of the need to strengthen our ties to Asia and put money into supporting the teaching of Asian languages," she explained.
"Indonesia being a closest Asian neighbour, so many Australian kids had the opportunity to learn Indonesian from teachers, all of whom are wonderful regardless of what they teach.
"However in recent times the money hasn't been there for specialist Asian teachers and it's a great loss."
How to fix that? Well, Professor Hooker believes it comes back to what she was doing years ago, encouraging in-person exchanges.
"I learnt about Australia when I travelled overseas. Meeting people not of our Australian cultures is one of the best ways of learning about ourselves.
"Zoom is fantastic but it's not the same. The experience of stepping off a plane and into another culture is immense.
"The sooner we can bring our Indonesian students here and vice versa, the better."
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