Royal couple stopped in tracks to admire exhibit
THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took time out during their tour of Australia to visit the Royal Sydney Easter Show where they admired a district display with a Gympie connection.
The South East Queensland District Exhibit attracted the admiring eyes of royals William and Kate, who were shown the various displays popular with the crowd over the long weekend.
Gympie woman Kathy Kane and Gympie State High School robotics students, under the guidance of teacher Tony Grudzinksi, were the brains trust behind the South East Queensland District display. The Gympie High students included Cru Scanlan, Sarah Robinson and Tristan Warren.
The display represented a message to the nation from those on the land: Can you fill these boots for just one day?
Those admiring the display were encouraged to reflect on the hardship often experienced on the land, giving credence to the recent drought ravaging the Gympie region.
Ms Kane envisioned a pair of walking boots to bring the exhibit's message to life but struggled at first to bring her idea off the drawing board.
It was then a friend suggested she approach the robotics students at Gympie State High School.
And what a suggestion it was.
Ms Kane met with the students and Mr Grudzinksi numerous times as prototypes were constructed and eventually the walking boots came to life in time for the big unveiling at the Royal Sydney Easter Show.
The robotics students and Ms Kane were invited to be present for the royal visit but sadly arrangements for a return trip back to Gympie had already been locked it.
"It was an amazing feeling to think something we had worked hard on was viewed by William and Kate," Ms Kane said.
The Gympie woman paid tribute to the young robotics students who helped her vision become a reality.
"The robotic skills of the Gympie students were tested but they overcame all the difficulties so well," Ms Kane said.
The slope and scale of the display area caused a problem initially with the boots' ability to gain traction.
That resulted in a race against time before the competition judging to make modifications and with composure beyond their years, the students rose to the challenge.
"The boots were walking for the judging of the display and the huge crowed that attended daily to view the exhibits," Ms Kane said.
The South East Queensland District Exhibit was awarded a close second place after judging, trailing the winners by a mere three points out of 1000.
The icing on the cake for all those involved though, was impressing visiting royals William and Kate who paused in front of the display.