NSW Governor Marie Bashir described the Illawarra as a sublime and beautiful region with a great university when she visited the city this week to deliver the 22nd annual Hargrave Lecture at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach.
"It is one of Australia's outstandingly fine universities, which has progressed to great heights in an extraordinarily short time," the NSW Governor said.
The NSW Governor said she had had enormous respect for the university for a very long time and described it as a jewel in the Illawarra.
The presentation by the state's first female and second longest serving governor came on the eve of Chief of the Defence Force and former Wollongong resident David Hurley being announced as the new Governor of NSW.
That prompted The Illawarra Connection president Roger Summerill to point out how General Hurley had been a former speaker of the region's peak networking body.
The NSW Governor also acknowledged Young Citizens of the Year Macinley Butson and Ethan Butson who made a presentation of a picture of the city.
She described them as two very fine young people who gave promise of an even greater Australia.
The siblings described it as an incredible experience and a privilege to meet her.
She recalled visiting Wollongong many times as a child on trips to the coast to not only visit her grandparents but family friends in the Illawarra.
She said that always involved a drive down Bulli Pass to see what she called an "unbelievable absolutely incomparable view".
"I can still recall the excitement evoked by the journey through that majestic and awesome pass."
The NSW Governor is presently the patron of the Bulli Show Society.
In addressing The Illawarra Connection, she described it as a visionary group.
But she started by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land who gave the region its name, which was appropriately translated to being "a pleasant place by the sea".
After researching Lawrence Hargrave, she noted that many elements of the exceptional man's character resonated with the character of the Illawarra and its people.
And she said one of the great joys of her role was something that was instituted by the longest serving governor of the state, Sir Roden Cutler.
"I decided I did not want to go past him so I will be the second longest," she said.
"He was an outstanding Australian role model. He instituted that gatherings at Government House of captains and vice captains of all the high schools across NSW. It is a wonderful sight to see these beautiful young people who represent the future of our nation."
The NSW Governor believed Australia was in good hands in the future and described that generation as being made up of extraordinary young people.
She said she rarely refused an invitation to a school because it was a high priority for her.
"What I see is absolutely dazzling," she said.
"It gives me great optimism about the future of this country because of its young people. They are magnificent and I would go so far as to say the finest generation we have probably ever had with combined health and worldliness in a positive way with their education. It has been a privilege to be working with those young people."