The Gala Dinner 2011

The 2011 Australia Day Foundation Gala Dinner took place at Australia House on 22 January. Famous Aussie television chef John Torode created a stunning menu to celebrate the 'Spirit of Outback' and we were delighted to welcome Tim Minchin, Michael Flazon and Jane Cho to the stage to entertain our guests.

The Theme

The Spirit of the Outback

Australia’s agricultural heritage is found in the shearing sheds, sheep and cattle stations and huge wheat belts of Australia’s outback. This year we celebrated the stockmen, drovers, shearers, pastoralists, farmers and minders; the authentic heroes who truly embody what it means to be Australian – tough, resilient, reliable, honest, straightforward and down-to-earth.

The Chef

This year we invited Masterchef's John Torode to create a menu to help us celebrate the spirit of the outback. Torode is Australia’s most famous and influential TV chef in the UK. He has reputation as a down to earth, straight-talking Aussie with a passion for food and he responded to the challenge in spectacular style with an glorious ‘Ode to Beef’ that delighted our guests.

The Entertainment

It was with great pleasure we welcomed back critically acclaimed Australian musician, actor and comedian Tim Minchin to entertain our guests and to honour him with an unexpected award. Accompanied by Sydney born violinist Jane Cho, Australian musical theatre star and producer Michael Flazon performed Advance Australia Fair.

The Award Winners

Stuart Devlin AO CMG

Australian of the Year in the UK

Stuart Devlin AO CMG was honoured by the Foundation as the greatest living goldsmith of his generation.

Born in Geelong, Victoria, Devlin studied gold and silversmithing at RMIT. His outstanding performance won him scholarships to the Royal College of Art in London in 1958 where his talent was recognised by The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. He then spent a two-year Fellowship at Columbia University in New York, before returning to Melbourne in 1962. Within two years Devlin was commissioned to design the first decimal coinage for Australia and returned to England to supervise work on the Australian coins at the Royal Mint. It was from here that he went on to become the world’s foremost coin designer. In 1980 he was awarded the Order of St Michael and St George and two years later was granted the Royal Warrant as Goldsmith and Jeweller to the Queen. In 1988 Devlin was made an officer of the Order of Australia in the Bicentennial Honours List. He designed coins for the Sydney 2000 Olympics and has recently designed the new set of four £1 coins. In 2009 Devlin was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council. He was Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, a supreme accolade, and is now developing a post-graduate institute here in London.

The Rt Hon the Lord Goodlad KCMG

Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK

This year’s title was awarded to Lord Goodlad in recognition of his contribution as British High Commissioner to Australia from 2000 to 2005 and the close ties he has maintained with our country since his return to the UK.

Born in Lincoln in 1943, Alastair Goodlad studied law at Cambridge and went to on to serve as a Conservative MP from 1974 to 1999 during which time he held many senior parliamentary posts. From 1992 to 1995 he held the post of Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during which time he first visited Australia. Goodlad was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1992 and received a knighthood in 1997. In 2000 he returned to Australia as the British High Commissioner and developed a love and admiration for our country and people. On his return to the UK he became a life peer and in 2005 was created Baron Goodlad, of Lincoln. Always keen to maintain his Australian links, Lord Goodlad served as Chairman of the Britain Australia Society from 2006 to 2007. Since then he has been a Trustee of the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Trust which supports Australian postgraduate students studying law and engineering in the UK. Lord Goodlad is also Chairman of the Australian Opera Capital Fund in the UK.

Tim Minchin

Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK

We were delighted to surprise Australian musician, actor, comedian and writer Tim Minchin with this title in recognition of his huge talent and extraordinary accomplishments so early on in his career.

Minchin studied English and Theatre at the University of WA and an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music at the Conservatorium of WA. He quickly achieved critical acclaim for his breakout show, Dark Side at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2005 and in the same year went on to win the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Festival. Minchin has performed to sell-out crowds in the West End, New York, and cities across Australia. He appeared at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival and was awarded Best Alternative Comedian at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival. He also performed at the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. An outstanding composer and lyricist, Minchin has recently written the songs for the RSC's brilliant new musical version of Roald Dahl's Matilda which will delight audiences for years to come. Minchin and his 55-piece orchestra have just finished a UK tour performed to capacity crowds at London’s O2 Arena and other venues around the country. Tim is an Ambassador for The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts.