The Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the European Parliament and Institutions met with their Belgian and European counterparts during a trip to Europe. To further develop Franco-Australian relations in the Hauts-de-France region, they included a visit to Villers-Bretonneux.
The former battlefields of the Western Front are a place of great significance for Australians in Europe. Each year, thousands of Australians travel to the places where their ancestors fought alongside the French in the First World War. More than 46,000 Australians lost their lives on the Western Front. For many Australian visitors, travelling to France and Belgium is a pilgrimage to honour the fallen.
The memory of the First World War is an integral part of Franco-Australian relations. It is in this context that the Hon Shayne Neumann MP, Mr Jerome Laxale MP, Mr Rowan Ramsey MP, and Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP met with key tourism representatives in the Somme.
After visiting the Sir John Monash Centre, the delegation discussed commemorative visits with Mr François Bergez, director of the Somme Tourism Board and former director of the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne. Bicycle tourism formed part of the discussions, with the development of the n°32 Remembrance Bicycle Trail which links Arras and Amiens via Albert and Corbie, and the efforts made by the region to continue to develop “Slow Tourism” and the possibilities of welcoming visitors who travel by bike. This mode of travel, like hiking, is appreciated as it gives visitors time to discover French heritage, the countryside, and villages off the beaten track.
The Australian delegation then met with elected representatives from Villers-Bretonneux at the Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, which is a must-see site for Australians visiting the region.