Darren Kamp with Julia Gilliard

Ms Gillard held up a gold nugget worth $50,000 and handed to her by local gold dealer Darren Kamp. "That’s amazing,” she said before reluctantly giving it back. “


“WHITE mould or blue mould?

”It may have been one of the most unlikeliest questions the prime minister has faced. But standing in the Goldfields Farmhouse cheese shop in Creswick the woman who regularly eyeballs Tony Abbott in Question Time didn’t miss a beat.  “White,” Julia Gillard said, before biting into a slice. “That’s beautiful.”  Shop owner Nadia Baxter-Keene then turned to Member for Ballarat Catherine King. “White or blue?”  “Blue, I think,” Ms King replied. “So,” said the prime minister. “You’re a blue girl, are you?”

While it was definitely a cheesy political moment, there is no doubt the Gillard charm offensive was in full swing yesterday during a whistlestop tour of Creswick and Clunes.  Ostensibly the prime minister was here to make an announcement about flood relief.  With an entourage of press and security she stopped on the side of the road to Smeaton, just outside of Clunes.  “Is everyone right?” she asked the press, then giggled. “I’ve got just a half-hour opening statement.”  And in brisk and wet wintry conditions the PM unveiled a bucketload of new funding for Victoria.  But up close and personal, it was indeed the old Julia Gillard who met with locals.  

In the main streets of Creswick and Clunes, ducking in and out off coffee shops, and chatting with residents, the prime minister was relaxed and funny and cheeky.  She hugged some toddlers, squeezed the shoulders of a couple of old folks, and swapped jokes with shopkeepers.  Outside the nearby Smokey Town Cafe she chatted with Mabel Moran, 82, whose house was hit three times.  Ladies from the Creswick District News waited patiently to get a shot of the PM, then laughed with embarrassment when a government staffer suggested it be a group photo.  

The prime minister visited the Fraser Street premises of photographer Neil Newitt and had coffee in the sweet shop run by Hepburn councillor Tim Hayes.  Outside two young blokes from Maryborough passed in a football hoping the prime minister would sign it.  But Brent Hudson and Troy Hubble got more than that. Ms Gillard handed the ball back to them personally and posed for a photo. “I voted for Julia,” Brent said later. “ She’s grouse.  

”In Fraser Street, Ms Gillard held up a gold nugget worth $50,000 and handed to her by local gold dealer Darren Kamp.  "That’s amazing,” she said before reluctantly giving it back.“  It’s heavier than you think.”  All up, it was a gold-medal performance from the prime minister.   And if earlier in the day she hadn’t tipped cold water on an opposition call for an early election, you may have thought one was just over the horizon.