Port Lincoln Muroto Friendship Group
On March 27, 1991, a Friendship Agreement was signed between the City of Port Lincoln (in the state of South Australia, Australia) and the City of Muroto (in the prefecture of Kochi, Japan). The document was co-signed by the Mayor of the City of Port Lincoln, Mr T.G. Secker O.A.M., and the Mayor of the City of Muroto, Mr Kishizo Nakatani.
It appears that the City of Muroto found Port Lincoln simply by examining a map of the world – Muroto is located on a very similar longitude and is almost exactly the same distance above the equator as Port Lincoln is below it. Furthermore, both Muroto and Port Lincoln are regional centres of approximately 15,000 citizens located on the southern tips of triangular peninsulas, with fishing/aquaculture as their main industry.
Shortly thereafter, the two cities agreed to conduct biannual cultural exchanges for local students and community members. The Port Lincoln Muroto Friendship Group Inc. is a stand-alone, non-profit group of volunteers who continue to facilitate highly successful ten-day trips to/from Japan each year.
In order to facilitate the outbound exchanges (which travel to Muroto for ten days in April each year), the members of our Friendship Group:
- select approximately fifteen community members (ten students/five adults) to form the annual delegation; delegates pay their own way
- hold a series of planning sessions to prepare the delegates for their upcoming cultural journey
- liaise with a Travel Agent in relation to travel arrangements and insurance
- liaise with a similar committee in Muroto, who host, tour, house and feed our delegates
In order to facilitate the inbound exchanges (which travel to Port Lincoln for ten days in August each year), the members of our Friendship Group:
- select local host families to provide homestay accommodation for our Japanese guests
- provide an itinerary of community events including school visits, tourist attractions and meal functions
- liaise with a similar committee in Muroto, to ascertain dates and delegate numbers (similar to our outbound exchanges)
Our cultural exchange program reached a significant milestone in 2021 – thirty years of continuous friendship (culminating in 56 exchanges for almost 800 delegates). To celebrate the occasion, a commemorative mosaic was designed (by Shaun Thomas), produced (by acclaimed local artist Karen Carr) and installed (by the City of Port Lincoln) in front of the Nautilus Arts Centre on Tasman Terrace). A second (virtually identical) mosaic was also produced and gifted to our friends in Japan – it too has been installed in a similarly prominent location in Muroto.
The mosaic design features 30 Australian wattle flowers and 30 Japanese cherry blossoms, symbolising three decades of friendship between the City of Port Lincoln and the City of Muroto. The flora, synonymous with both countries, represent our desire to continue to grow our relationship and cultural understanding. A north indicator and distance marker on our mosaic point directly to Muroto (and vice-versa on their version).
On the afternoon of Saturday March 27th, exactly 30 years after the original Friendship Agreement signing, a special celebration was simultaneously staged in both communities. Thirty citizens from each city were invited to ceremonially lay the thirty wattle and thirty cherry blossom tiles to complete both mosaics. Our tile-layers represented all aspects of the cultural exchange program, from delegates, hosts and committee members to Council staff/elected members, media and itinerary partners. The event was connected to Muroto via Zoom, with official speeches, an exchange of civic gifts and an afternoon tea completing the ceremony.