I rise today to celebrate Eden-Monaro's communities starting their bounce-back after two of the most challenging years in history. I've been fortunate recently to get back on the road in my electorate, and I may be biased but I strongly believe I live in the best electorate in the country. I could stand here all day talking about the stunning plains of the Monaro, the pristine beaches, the breathtaking Snowies, the vast and diverse landscape within the beautiful Yass Valley, heritage towns, buildings and history, the incredible lakes, dams and caves and countless vistas and national parks all around the region. But it's the people who make this electorate so special. It's the culture and diversity of the Queanbeyan region and the hundreds of close-knit communities that have come together to endure the tough times.
I recently had the pleasure of spending a night in Wee Jasper, which is a natural wonderland perfect for exploring. What made my trip so enjoyable was the hospitality of the community and that, no matter their political views, everyone was so welcoming. Whilst there I learnt of a new business venture that's just starting up—and a thank you to Shannon for showing me around the brand-new and very exciting Wee Jasper Distillery, which will be opening in early 2022. This has been a long project for Shannon, her family and the team but one that will no doubt draw people to the region.
With a husband and kids that love fishing, it would be remiss of me not to talk about the Snowy Trout Challenge, which is back for its second year. The Snowy Trout Challenge is open to all anglers and is a regionwide event across the Snowy Monaro. Tagged rainbow trout have been released into Lake Eucumbene, Lake Jindabyne, Lake Crackenback, Black Lake in Bombala, Murrumbidgee Pumping Station in Cooma and Lake Williams in Nimmitabel.
The Snowy Trout Challenge kicked off in October and will run until May 31. It's the perfect excuse to visit our Snowys and support our local businesses. The Snowy area's been hit harder than most due to the pandemic. While the rest of New South Wales is mostly back to normal, businesses in the Snowy missed an entire snow season. Communities lost millions of dollars of income, and it's a long six months until the snow returns. Please check out this region and support these communities.
One thing the past last two years has taught us is that people are able to work from anywhere. However, moving to a new area can be daunting, especially if it's a region you don't know well. This is why the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce's Sea Change Expo is such a good idea. Taking place on 22 and 23 January, businesses and community groups are coming together to showcase the Merimbula region, answer people's sea change questions and shine a light on the lifestyle that makes living and raising your kids on the Sapphire Coast so great. If you're planning a holiday this summer, make sure you check out Eden-Monaro because, right across this electorate, you'll find something amazing to explore and taste and you'll meet amazing people.