Q&A; and Cocktail Party with Geoffrey Rush and Marita Cheng.
Q&A; and Cocktail Party with Geoffrey Rush and Marita Cheng. Dave Noonan

City visit proves a Rush for actor

THERE was a definite sense of hometown pride as a group of excited attendees shared an intimate audience with one of Toowoomba's greatest exports, Geoffrey Rush.

Rush answered questions from audience members during a one-off show at the Empire theatre last night as part of the Australian of the Year Tour of Honour.

Sharing the stage with Rush was young Australian of the Year Marita Cheng.

Audience members quizzed the two on what and who inspired them and how they got to be where they are from their humble beginnings.

But what everyone wanted to know was just what Rush's memories of his hometown were.

The Oscar-award winning actor was not reserved in emphasising his strong connection with the Garden City and the Empire Theatre.

"I'm wearing a lot of hats tonight," Rush said.

"As Australian of the Year and as patron of the Empire Theatre. But first of all I'm wearing the very proud hat of saying I was born here."

He spoke intimately of his early childhood memories of growing up in the Garden City and how he was still amazed at the city's grand parade, the Carnival of Flowers.

He said the Carnival was "like a drug" for a young child, the way it captured his attention and inspired him creatively.

While Rush's list of achievements is well documented, his stage companion for the night was just as inspiring.

Ms Cheng, 22, founded Robogals Global in 2008 as a response to the traditionally low levels of participation by women in engineering and technology. Robogals teaches schoolgirls about engineering and the difference that engineers make to everyday lives.

Already Robogals has run robotics workshops for 3000 girls across 80 schools in Australia and now has 17 chapters across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.


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