Dust off your fun clothes, grab your friends and get set to celebrate as the NSW Seniors Festival springs into action. Count on it, we have earned a bit fun, in fact bushels of the stuff, because it has been a dreary time to now.
Now in its 64th year, the festival will run from March 25 to April 3 with the theme It's Time to Reconnect.
So no looking back for seniors, as you are being invited to try something new, visit interesting places, dance, sing and generally have a wow of a time at hundreds of free and discounted events and activities running across the state.
There's also a range of online experiences.
As always, the hottest ticket in town is to the Premier's Gala Concerts at the Aware Super Theatre, International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney, on March 30 and 31.
If you missed out on tickets, and don't despair if you did because you're in the majority, you'll also be able to watch the event via livestream from the comfort of your home on March 30 at 2.45pm.
Register at events.humanitix.com. Search 2022 Premier's Gala Concerts Live Stream.
Audiences and those tuning in will be treated to an absolute feast of entertainment from some of Australia's best musical entertainers, including Phil Burton of Human Nature, Christine Anu, Shannon Noll, Emma Pask, Gary Pinto and The Diamonds.
Running alongside the gala concerts will be the NSW Seniors Festival Expo.
The ICC will be a hive of activity, with more than 50 exhibitors showcasing the latest in travel, lifestyle, health, services and more.
Expo-goers can also look forward to games, giveaways, expert advice - and lashings of fun.
The expo runs from 9am-5pm on March 30 and 9am-3pm March 31. Entry is free. And if you can't make it, you can attend online. Expert exhibitors will deliver virtual workshops on nutrition, yoga and fitness, finance, home organising and more.
A livestream showcasing performances from the expo stage will also be available. Register for the online expo at www.expo.seniorsfestival.nsw.gov.au
Don't miss out: Want to find an activity near you? Go to www.seniorsfestival.nsw.gov.au and look for Find an Activity under the Events tab.
Penny Davies has many awards, including the Order of Australia (AM), but an OBE is not among them, especially one from the British Empire. Penny's OBE stands for 'Over Bloody Eighty' and she is happy to join the many active, strong women who can claim that particular honour.
With three siblings and a mother who was proud that she was the 'homemaker', money was short and the children made to work before and after school. At age 13, Penny's first job was with Mr Masteika, a Yugoslavian migrant and cabinetmaker.
"I translated for him when he needed me to, and did the books for the business. I never saw a penny of the money though," Penny said.
At 15, still going to the girls school, Penny was sent to part time work in the local general store.
She caught a bus at 7am and worked for a couple of hours, ran down the hill to school and then clocked on again from 4pm for the afternoon shift, and then caught the bus home much later.
Two years on and with all her wages still going into the consolidated revenue of the household, Penny decided it was time to 'get out', and applied for a nursing bursary.
"It was one of the few ways nice girls could leave home legitimately in 1972. I graduated and four years later decided to take on a teaching degree.
"I was always happy to explore educational opportunities in various fields including the arts, health and education and to complete higher degrees. Studying gave me a great deal of personal satisfaction."
Life is too valuable and too precious to be dull and boring.- Dr Penelope K Davies AM PhD History l M.Hlth.Sc.
Penny spent 10 years teaching in a secondary college, while raising her young family, a boy and girl. Both had cystic fibrosis so the challenges for this working mum were many and varied.
"Challenging and more often than I'd have preferred, extremely confronting, my life has been interspersed with sadness, opportunity and success. My life has certainly not been dull or boring, nor do I ever anticipate it will be. I don't have time.
"These days, I believe volunteering, paid or unpaid, is one of the most significant gifts one can provide to others. It brings with it the privilege to meet with and share life experiences with people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
"If I'm been able to provide comfort, support and the occasional gem of wisdom to others i will have achieved what I set out to do - to make life for myself and my loved ones worthwhile.
"Growing up, I've not felt that being a girl ever impeded what I wanted to achieve. The word in 2022 is pivot, and that's my life to a T," Penny adds.
The star-studded Premier's Gala Concerts are back in 2022, bringing together some of Australia's finest stage and recording artists to celebrate NSW Seniors Week. Audiences will be treated to performances from Phil Burton of Human Nature, Christine Anu, Shannon Noll, Emma Pask, Gary Pinto and The Diamonds.
The concerts will also be available to watch via a free livestream on Wednesday March 30 at 2.45pm.
Ahead of this year's Premier's Gala Concerts the performers were asked to tell us about the most important seniors in their lives. Here's what they had to say.
Premier's Gala Concerts performer Christine Anu on the most important senior in her life:
"A senior in my life I am grateful for is my mother. She is an Elder in the community and my first female role model. Her incredible strength as a woman, mother and storyteller is continuous."
"I am grateful for many Senior Citizens in my life, particularly my Father who constantly inspires me through his humility and selflessness in the way he lives. Both he and my Mother have given their love and life to show us great examples of how to live in service and love for others through their faith and actions."
"A senior in my life that I am grateful for is my mum.
"She has always been so supportive of everything I've done - whenever I perform she publicises it among all her friend circles and is right there in the crowd cheering along. She also happens to be a wonderful grandmother to my kids. She is an amazing woman."
"The two most important seniors in my life are my wonderful parents. Both now in their 80's, I'll be forever grateful for them both. The most caring, kind, loving supportive parents you could ask for."
"The most important senior in my life is my mum, she has always been the backbone of our family and I can never fully express my appreciation for her."
The 2022 Premier's Gala Concerts run for approximately 90 minutes with a 15 minute interval.
Tickets are scarce for the live concerts which start at 11am and 2.45pm on March 30 and 31 at the Aware Super Theatre, ICC Sydney, so enjoy the performance from the comfort of your own home via a free livestream on Wednesday, March 30 at 2.45pm.
The NSW Seniors Festival Expo is an annual free and fun event held at the ICC Convention Centre. Featuring over 50 exhibitors and workshops, the Expo has all the latest information on travel, lifestyle, health, services and more.
2022 Expo highlights:
Where: Hall 4, Exhibition Centre, International Convention Centre, Sydney, NSW 2000
Can't attend the Seniors Festival Expo in person? No worries! The Expo will once again be available online, and this year it's even bigger than before.
Enjoy the performances from the Expo stage via livestream and learn from a wide range of virtual workshops.
When: Wednesday March 30 from 9am - 5pm, and Thursday March 31 from 9am to 3pm.