Bob Hawke, who has died at 89, made many visits to St George and Sutherland Shire before, during and and after his eight years as Prime Minister.
Leader photos recorded many enjoyable experiences, including him being mobbed at Westfield Hurstville, kicking off a rugby league game at Jubilee Oval and opening extensions at Marist Brothers Kogarah.
But, there were also more challenging visits, such as when he was greeted at Kogarah by 500 people protesting about the proposed third airport runway, and by pharmacy workers who were unhappy about a cut in dispensing fees they said would cost jobs.
During one visit, Mr Hawke grabbed a tray and lined up with older patrons for a bistro lunch at the Illawarra Catholic Club, Hurstville before later trying his hand on the "pokies".
His popularity was such that Bob Hawke lamps were selling at Miranda Fair for $99 in 1984, and in 2007 a three metre high portrait of Mr Hawke by Arncliffe artist Paul Jackson attracted great attention as an Archibald prize exhibit.
Mr Hawke's last visits to the area were to farewell former parliamentary colleagues from the shire, Les Johnson and Arthur Gietzelt.
Mr Hawke, who was using a walking stick, struggled with the steps in the Sutherland Entertainment Centre after delivering a eulogy at the state funeral for Mr Johnson, the former MP for Hughes.
"'Its not me, it's my bloody feet,'' he quipped as he was assisted from the stage, causing the gathering to erupt in laughter.
Mr Hawke also showed his trademark humour during the eulogy with an anecdote about the visit by US president Lyndon Johnson to Australia before the 1966 election, which was fought over the Vietnam war, which Mr Johnson fiercely opposed.
Mr Hawke said Prime Minister Harold Holt had hosted a luncheon in honour of the president.
"Just prior to the lunch, Les and his great mate Doug McClelland were enjoying a cigarette when they were approached by a member of the secret service, who asked them to put their cigarettes out," he said.
"They made some kind of challenge to this demand, and the agent took exception and asked to know Les's name.
" 'Johnson,' he replied, to which the response was, 'Wise guy, eh?'."
" 'Les replied, 'No federal member for Hughes'.''