Rockhampton hosts major U3A event

Discussing 50 year celebrations for both CQU and U3A, (from left) U3A Conference Chair Henry Cope, David Weston, Kim Harrington, Associate Vice-President CQUniversity Rockhampton and Central Highlands Regions, President U3A Network Queensland Rhonda Weston, President U3A Rockhampton and District Cheryl Wickes.

University of the Third Age (U3A) is putting Rockhampton firmly on the map in 2023 hosting the U3A Network Queensland Conference.

Rockhampton U3A president Cheryl Wickes said the conference will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of U3A worldwide on 8-12 May.

“Interest is growing from overseas and throughout Australia to visit the Capricornia region for this event,” she said.

“On the evening of 8 May conferencegoers will be welcomed at a ‘Meet and Greet’ to be held at the Rockhampton Museum of Art, and will also be given the opportunity to tour the gallery.

“The conference proper will be held at Central Queensland University on 9-11 May, and with the conference theme of ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’, an inspiring program of guest speakers has been brought together.”

Cheryl said U3A was the perfect organisation to join in retirement.

“U3A, (University of the Third Age), brings together people who have retired from full-time work but not from living an active and fulfilling lifestyle. U3A is there to assist you in this most important period of your life,” she said.

First formed in France in 1973, the concept of promoting learning, fitness and fun for everyone into the years after retiring from work, their ‘Third Age’, captured the imagination and soon spread throughout the world.

U3A Rockhampton and District was formed in 1988, offering activities to its members from gardening, writing, birdwatching, mahjong, ukulele playing, IT, to current affairs discussion, just to name a few.

“These activities provide so much more than just learning or physical and mental fitness in later life; they provide social connections and friendships,” she said.

Professor Francois Vellas, President of the Association of International Universities of the Third Age (AIUTA) and also the son of founding member, Professor Pierre Vellas, will reminisce about his father’s innovative idea that led to the formation of U3A. And as the current President of AIUTA, he will describe how far the organisation has come, as well as plans for its future.

Professor Francois Vellas will also extend his visit to open a special launch of the Rockhampton French Film Festival on Friday 12 May.

Cliff Picton, founding member of U3A in Australia will describe his part in this important moment in the history of Australian seniors.

The full line-up of guest speakers will also explore issues that affect all seniors including developments in health both physical and mental, social media and IT; our future.

Cheryl said it was hoped to attract visitors from all around Queensland to enjoy the area’s many attractions.

“We are renowned for its beef and barramundi, and so much more, everyone is invited to attend the conference in Rockhampton,” Cheryl said.

“We want people to come and stay a while… enjoy all that Central Queensland has to offer from the reef through to the historic mining town of Mt Morgan and beyond to the outback to discover prehistoric dinosaurs and our rich indigenous history.

“The conference will offer many enhancements and optional tours. A chance to enjoy a walking tour of historic Rockhampton buildings, take part in a mahjong day, drive up to the majestic Mt Archer Lookout, visit Rockhampton Botanical Gardens and Zoo.

“Or visitors can wind their way along the Capricorn Coast from Yeppoon to Emu Park with its inspiring RSL memorial park, visit Great Keppel Island.

“A courtesy bus will operate for pick up and return to conference activities by CQConnect, who will also offer various optional tours.”

She said the group thanked Rockhampton Regional Council, Advance Rockhampton, Qld Gambling Community Benefit Fund, CQUniversity, Stanwell Power Station, and many more supporters who have made hosting the conference possible, and making May an exciting month for U3A and for the Central Queensland Region.

“And also thanks U3A Capricorn Coast (, and U3A Gladstone (, for their support in planning the conference,” Cheryl added.

Registrations for the conference will open February, go to:

For more information check out the U3A Rockhampton and District’s website,

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