Navy drills, Covid, cricket, artists, diplomats and bakers: two nations reflect on international friendship

Many changes, triumphs, and good works have punctuated the Australia Sri Lanka diplomatic relationship since it started on 16 January 1947.

As part of the 75-year celebration of the island nations’ enduring support of one another, the Australian High Commission, Colombo, under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have collated a fascinating tribute to Sri Lanka and Australia’s bilateral bond: 75 Stories Of Friendship, featuring handpicked stories from citizens of both nations.

The collection is full of gems and memories, including a history of cooperative visits between the Sri Lankan Navi and the three HMAS Melbourne iterations which features both a floating casino, and a chance encounter between HMAS crew and the great grandson of a woman their company had saved 90 years earlier (Defence Connections Between Australia And Sri Lanka [Ceylon] Over The 75 Years by Paul Cooney).

Marlon Dale Ferreria takes a nostalgic look at the rise Sri Lanka achieved after being admitted to Test Cricket in 1981, securing their reputation as “worthy world champs barely 15 years after gaining Test status”, in the aptly named Cricket, A Vegemite Sandwich & A ‘Cuppa’ Ceylon Tea.

Sri Lankan artist Raja Segar recalls in Down Under Through An Artists Lens a meaningful friendship with 15th High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka; time in Sydney a short time later, painting watercolour postcards of the Opera House, Volkswagen Beetle cars and the Harbour Bridge to finance his 9th solo exhibition in Mosman, and the sad occasion upon which he hung a painted tribute to his friend in the Australian High Commission premises.

There is a A Story to Tell by Somasundaram Skandakumar whose fond remembrances of his time in office as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia from 2015-2019 span both international policy, and memorable meetings on the pitch.

And initiatives underway by both a humble husband and wife team of biscuit makers, Yasotha and Senthilrasan, and an Australia Awards Alumni Dr. Anuji Gamage – a leader in Covid-19 prevention research – to make their worlds a better place.

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