Today is the last day of Prince Willam's tour of Down Under.

Last week he was in New Zealand. Now he is in another British colony - Australia.

If there are republicans in Australia, then they were hardly noticeable. William was treated like a rock star.

During a speech at Government House in Melbourne, Victoria, in which he mentioned his passion for Australia, William thanked the Australia's female population for continuing their long-held tradition of kissing members of the Royal Family. William was referring to the incident in 1979 when his father, Prince Charles, was famously kissed by model Jane Priest as he frolicked in the Australian surf, although William mistakenly said the incident happened on Sydney's Bondi Beach, when in fact it happened in Perth on the opposite coast of that vast nation.

Everywhere that Wills has been in Australia and New Zealand he has been mobbed by women - one of them even fainting.

William visited the southern Australian state of Victoria, which last year was devastated by infernos which killed 173 people. This being Australia, he also enjoyed a barbecue at the fire-ravaged town of Flowerdale. Last week he also enjoyed a barbecue with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Alongside Christianity and rugby, cricket is one of Australia's national religions (Australia are the World Champions), and William had a little game with two stars of the Australian national side, Brett Lee and Matthew Hayden.

A majority of Australians - 58% - have said they want Prince William as their next monarch.

'I'm glad the tradition is continuing': Prince William recalls father's famous beach kiss as he collects a peck on the cheek on last day of his Australia tour

By Rebecca English
21st January 2010
Daily Mail

If Australia has taken Prince William to its heart, then the feeling is very much reciprocated.

On the last day of his hugely popular visit to the antipodes, William spoke from the heart about his passion for the country - and even thanked the nation's female population for continuing their long-held tradition of kissing members of the Royal Family.

The prince - who has been kissed by hundreds of women, young and old, during his many impromptu walkabouts over the last three days - was jokingly referring to the moment during the visit of his father, Prince Charles, in 1979.

He was famously kissed by model Jane Priest as he frolicked in the Australian surf (although he mistakenly said the incident happened on Bondi Beach, when in fact it happened in Perth).

Ladies in waiting: Admirers holding banners greet the prince as he arrives at Government House today

Royal seal: The prince leans in for a kiss on the cheek with one of his fans in Melbourne today

'Tradition': Prince Charles is kissed by an 'Australian beauty' in Perth in 1979

'As far back as I can remember, I have heard from my family about the wonders of Australia, and the hospitality and friendship of the Australian people,' he said.

'My father had such a great time here at school - and is still misty-eyed about an immortal moment on Bondi, when an Australian beauty planted a smacker on his cheek. 'Itís good to see this tradition is still continuing! '

He also referred to his mother Diana, Princess of Wales's love for the country, and threw in a light-hearted reference to his brother, Harry.

He continued: 'I also remember my mother coming back from her time here in 1996, telling me what a profound impression this country had made on her, and how much she loved Australia. Three days here and now I know why.

'And, of course, thereís that other guy with the ginger hair - who just never ever stops banging on about you, and how I havenít lived because I havenít been to Australia blah, blah, blah.

'Because of this, and because of the respect the world has for your unique way of life, for your vibrancy, your straightforward ways, your classic sense of humour, I have been longing to return.

'The last time I was here I was nine-months-old and seeing the world from a very low level - certainly not one from which to appreciate this awesome place. '

William was speaking at historic Government House in Melbourne after being invited to give an address to mark the country's annual national celebration, Australia Day.

The Prince was given a royal fanfare as he entered and such was the crush amid the 1,000-strong crowd of guests invited to hear him speak, that one woman guest fainted in front of him.

Earlier William had made the most of his last 24 hours in the country, mixing tea and sympathy with those affected by last year's devastating bushfires with one of the country's national religions - cricket - as well as popping into the Australian Open tennis.

Pomp and strange circumstances: Prince William waits to address an audience at Victoria's Government House in Melbourne

A combination of record temperatures, high winds and forests dried by years of drought created a series of infernos that swept through vast areas of the state of Victoria last February, killing 173, destroying more than 2,000 homes and displacing more than 7,50 people.

Out in the countryside William listened to the harrowing stories of those who survived the country's worst ever natural disaster and saw for himself the devastation caused by the ravaging flames.

One such place was Flowerdale, a tiny community of around 2,000 people which lost 13 inhabitants and saw two thirds of homes destroyed.

Yet residents have managed to display a Blitz spirit, rallying round to save their school, pub and shop and managing to built their first permanent new home just five weeks after the fire.

William told them: 'I couldn't believe it when I drove through - the vast scale of it all, it really brings it home. It's great what you guys have done.'

Concerned: Prince William meets a family badly affected by the bushfires, Colin and Michelle French and daughters Darcy and Vanessa in Flowerdale, 80 miles north of Melbourne

Among those who met the prince was Troy Burns, 38, who owns an 80 acre farm just over a mile from the village centre.

He recalled yesterday how 'the hills roared' as the fire raced towards his property at a rate of more than 100mph.

'The day had been so hot - 48 degrees in the shade - that the power had gone so I tried to go for a sleep to cool down,' he said.

'I was woken by a call from my mother to say that there were fires raging in the area. When I looked out, the sky was lit up by the flames.

'I threw my dogs in the car and tried to head for safety but realised I was surrounded by a raging ring of fire.

Throw some meat on the barbie: The heir mucks in during an open air lunch in forest-fire ravaged Flowerdale

'I battled for four hours trying to beat back the flames when I turned round and saw my house had caught fire. I will never forget the sound of the fire racing towards me, sucking in all the oxygen from the air.It was so loud it sounded like a jet engine taking off.

'Eventually I managed to drive to a small spot on a nearby hill. I sat there until dawn, shivering and bleeding, just praying that the wind wouldn't change direction.'

During his visit William also met several Australian cricketing legends including Matthew Hayden and Brett Lee, who had travelled down to Flowerdale to give some of the local children a lesson, and was even persuaded to take part in a game.

It was like the Ashes all over again as one of the world's most famous Englishmen stretched his arms in a mock warm-up before he picked up a tennis ball and bowled to Matthew Hayden, Australia's legendary opening batsman, who was standing at the crease.

'This is it, this is the moment,' said the prince as, with a flick of his wrist, he sent the ball flying down to the Australian batting legend.

The prince played cricket with Brett Lee and Matthew Hayden in Flowerdale and even faced a few balls

There was a groan from William as the ball hit his bat without striking the ground. 'Oh no, that was a weak full toss,' he moaned.

Dejected, the prince decided to chance his arm at a bit of batting instead and this time managed to do his country proud as he faced seven balls and hit each one - even confidently offering up an easy catch to one youngster.

As he walked off he said: 'Well, I didn't get bowled but I didn't exactly cover myself with glory.'

Heading home to England last night on a commercial flight, St James's palace aides declared themselves quietly delighted at the way the five-day trip - which included the prince's first official foreign trip to New Zealand on behalf of the Queen - had gone.

While it is unlikely to spike republican guns in the long term, William's mission to win over the hearts and minds of the people of both nations has proved an unqualified success and enabled him to take another important step forward in his apprenticeship as a future king.

Royal fan: Roger Federer waves at Wills as he watches the Australian Open Tennis Tournament (left), prompting the Prince to wave back

Laugh a minute: Federer's response tickles Prince William and other members of the Royal Box in Melbourne

Mobbed: Admiring fans kiss Prince William as he leaves the Australian Tennis Open today

Princes and champions: Prince William meets his new friend Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Rod Laver Arena after his second round victory today over Victora Hanescu

Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:01 PM..