“Apart from creating an expanding and engaging market for Australian produce in Sri Lanka, I am proud to have been a part of supporting women’s economic progress in the country. We initiated programmes aimed at increasing maternal and child nutrition, empowering women within simple and smart economies and creating sustainable incomes for women. It is amazing to see the resilience and determination of women in Sri Lanka and I consider it a privilege to have worked for a better and more beneficial future for them,” High Commissioner Mudie says.
The High Commissioner also established initiatives primarily focused on the development of the conflict-ridden North- Eastern region of the country and the upliftment of the lives of children in the tea plantations of the hill country.
Travel and Tourism, between Australia and Sri Lanka was another key area of focus for Robyn Mudie. Her work in the east, especially in Mannar, and the development of tourism opportunities in the country helped create a steady flow of tourists arriving from Australia and saw a 15% growth in the industry, in both directions, since the start of her appointment. “This alone speaks volumes about the increased strength of our relationship,” she states. “It is this connection, this understanding that I want to see go from strength to strength.”
“It has been such a rewarding experience,” concludes the High Commissioner, speaking of her engagement in Sri Lanka. “My time here has taught me so much. I will miss the people, the colour, the chaotic vibrancy and, of course, the delicious food of this country. I will, most of all, miss waking up to a wonderful Sri Lankan breakfast; of egg hoppers, dhal curry, katta sambol and spicy chicken curry. I hope that I will be able to make this perfect breakfast back home in Australia and master the curve of those tasty hoppers,” she says with her warm and cheerful smile.
Robyn Mudie’s role as the High Commissioner to Australia in Sri Lanka went beyond the official diplomatic presence expected of a figurehead such as herself. It established a strong and lasting link between Australia and Sri Lanka through development aid, women’s empowerment and the association of Australian wines and foods with the Ceylonese palate. And speaking at the final official occasion held at Her Excellency’s residence, she explains the importance of upholding and nurturing this relationship, especially through their new-found love and appreciation of world cuisine.
Australian wine culture
Australian wines are becoming hugely popular as some of the finest in the world in terms of both quality and flavor. Sri Lanka too is embracing its diverse, yet distinctive character strengthened by a large Australian population residing in the country. Australia also produces some of the most sought-after beef, lamb, barramundi and turkey; all of which are imported and sold in Sri Lanka. With a 50% market presence in wine and a 20-22% market presence in meat and fish, this is an industry that will create a large presence in the future of Sri Lanka’s economic landscape.
A special event bidding farewell to Robyn Mudie, held at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner, also showcased an impressive range of wines from Australia accompanied by a special preparation of Australia meats, fish and cheeses. “Wine culture, in general, is something new to Sri Lankans. But, it’s something that is that is becoming very popular since of late. Over a decade ago, wine drinking would have created little excitement here. Today, it’s a concept that people are learning to enjoy and appreciate,” explains Ravi Marcelline, Chief Executive Officer of Mega Trading (PVT) Ltd. (sole importers and distributors of Angove wines), at the promotional event.
“Since 2012, we (The Australian High Commission) have been working very closely with the Australian Trade Commission to market Australian produce in Sri Lanka. We have made great efforts to engage more directly with the Sri Lankan market and the response has exceeded our expectations,” the High Commissioner says.