THE late Bob Hawke's most celebrated connection to Albury-Wodonga came on a damp January 1, 1988.
In his fifth year as Prime Minister, Mr Hawke officially opened the Australian Bicentennial Exhibition which was created on vacant land now occupied by homes in White Box Rise estate in Wodonga.
The event was akin to the 2015 Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, also opened by a Prime Minister in Tony Abbott before being taken around the country.
But, Mr Hawke's legendary popularity wasn't shared by the 1200 schoolchildren attending on the day in 1988 when they had to sit waiting in rain before starting up a slow hand-clap with the guest of honour running late.
In reflecting on the nation's previous 200 years, Mr Hawke told the assembled masses including mayors of Albury and Wodonga, John Roach and John Macauley, the country had to learn from the past.
The Americans. The football. The pub. The car full of young blokes.@barriecassidy shares a recent and largely unknown story about Bob Hawke that stunned a group of visiting US dignitaries.— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) May 16, 2019
"They couldn't believe a former prime minister would do that." pic.twitter.com/SsOc07k53R
"Mistakes have been made, wrongs have been done, and injustices have been inflicted, but in learning about the past, we can best learn to correct the errors of the past," he said.
Another significant local move was the opening of the Australian Tax Office in Albury in 1987.
In 1991, Mr Hawke visited Wangaratta to open extensions to the IBM factory and tour Airworld and Bruck Textiles.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer was a Canberra adversary of Mr Hawke, but described him as always being approachable, unlike his successor Paul Keating.
"I'm saddened by his passing," Mr Fischer said.
"He will also go down in history when parliament house moved and it was a great privilege to be in parliament for that move."
Alan Tripp, who built a gambling empire from Yarrawonga, also forged a close personal association with Mr Hawke as a regular betting client.
"He loved his betting, he had his $50 each-way and $100 each-way," Mr Tripp said.
"It was a real hobby for him and he owned a few good horses to.
"He looked at a form guide as regularly as he did crosswords.
"He treated everyone so equally and that is where his charisma came in."
Their friendship further blossomed when Mr Tripp became Coburg Football Club president in 1985 and together with vice-president Peter Bartholomew they wooed Mr Hawke to the club as its No.1 ticket-holder.
"There was no Sunday racing in those days and VFA footy was huge," Mr Tripp said.
"We got Bob involved and he came to quite a few games.
"He came to Vanuatu in 2017 and we watched Richmond win the grand final together."