Visiting members of Sister City Australia were given a civic welcome to Mildura by new Mayor Mark Eckel in the Council chambers last night.

The Sister City Australia annual general meeting moves around Australia on a regular basis and will be held at the Mildura Deakin Centre today.

The current President Bill Wilson is from Devonport, Tasmania and spent 30 years in Local Government before retiring three years ago.

“Sister City Australia was formed in 1989 and promotes the ideals and benefits of a sister city relationship,” he said.

“I became interested in the concept because I went to Vietnam and I didn’t want my kids to live in a world environment of conflict”

“The first sister city relationship was started up in 1929 in Europe and for trade purposes,” he said.

“I believe that there is nothing better than a smile and a hand shake between people – it breaks down any language barrier there may be.”

Also in attendance at today’s AGM in Mildura will be Vice President Jan Teasdale of Belmont, West Australia; treasurer Caisley Graham from Lake MacQuarie and secretary Mike Jenkins from Rockingham West Australia, whose flight was delayed which meant he missed the civic reception here on Thursday night.

Other Board members here for the event are Ms Sim Hayward of Cairns, Queensland ansd Christina Despoteris from Melbourne.

Others here for the Annual General Meeting are five Japanese representatives led by the Japan Local Government Centre in Sydney Director Mr Katsunori Kamibo

His organisation, which is supportive of the Sister City movement, has offices in Sydney, Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Seoul and Beiging.

On Thursday night the visitors joined members of the Mildura Sister City Association on a Murray River Boat Cruise.

President of the Mildura Sister City Association Denis Jewell and other members of local group, will host the group over the next few days in Sunraysia.

Unfortunately the Japanese group are required back in Sydney for weekend engagements and will fly out at 5pm Friday.

A moment of silence was held at the Civic reception for the late Vice President of the Upland Sister City Association in California Sharon Christensen, who sadly passed away in Upland early on Tuesday morning, American time.

Mildura has sister city ties with Upland, California (Chaffey history); Kumatori (Education and cultural exchange) and Dali, south West China (Agriculture, education and trade).