On November 10th, 2023, a large crowd of veterans and supporters gathered at the Goorambat Veterans’ Retreat to witness the official opening of this unique facility. The retreat, located in the rural town of Goorambat in Victoria, is a sanctuary for veterans who have served our nation with honour and courage. It offers a tranquil environment for veterans to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with themselves and others.
The official opening ceremony was attended by several dignitaries, including the local Federal member Ms Helen Haines, who delivered a short address and cut the ribbon. The minister praised the vision and passion of Phil and Jo Thomson, the founders of the retreat, and thanked them for their generous contribution to the veteran community. The minister also acknowledged the support of the Victorian Veterans Council (VVC), the Returned and Services League (RSL), and the large team of donors and volunteers, who helped make the retreat a reality. Rev Mark Dunn a veteran himself, delivered an interfaith dedication of the retreat as part of the ceremony.
The ceremony was followed by a tour of the retreat facilities, which include the old schoolhouse main building, the numerous accommodation cabins, the RV campsite, and the grounds and gardens. The retreat is designed to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of veterans, and to provide them with a supportive community and a sense of belonging.
After the tour, the guests enjoyed a community BBQ lunch, where they mingled with the retreat staff, volunteers, and other veterans. The atmosphere was festive and friendly, with laughter and stories filling the air. Many veterans expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the retreat, and shared how it has helped them cope with the challenges of transitioning to civilian life. Some veterans also shared their plans to return to the retreat, or to invite their family and friends to join them. Many generously donated to the cause. A considerable number of new members joined the GVR association on the day.
The Goorambat Veterans’ Retreat Official opening was a historic event that marked the beginning of a new chapter for the veteran community in Victoria. The retreat is more than just a spot on a map; it is a home away from home for our veterans, who have given so much to our nation. The retreat is a testament to the power of vision, collaboration, compassion, and commitment, and a tribute to the spirit of our veterans.