Do you know where the little jewel of Bingara is? The town Bingara, New South Wales, Australia??
I didn’t really until I went to their annual Orange Festival recently. Before this is was just a name on a map – a small country town not far from me. Now it’s a town I want to return to. Everyone I spoke to there LOVED their little town. It was very refreshing to hear people just adore their community.
The Orange Festival is associated with their orange trees – this region is not exactly citrus centro of Australia but in Bingara they have planted long avenues of orange trees to commemorate war veterans. We were sitting next to this lovely local woman who told us a lot about how the kids feel about it. We got onto this topic as she was sitting there curling orange pipe cleaners – a curious thing to be doing on a Saturday morning in the park!! They were part of the costumes for the Orange Police in the street parade.
This lovely woman told us how the young children are the “Orange Police” – they police the oranges and tell people that they are not allowed to pick them. It appears that even as the children get older they keep this responsibility and tell people they are not allowed to pick them. Even as the young children turn into teenagers they respect this and inform anyone who looks as if they are about to pick an orange that its not the done thing in Bingara!!
Navel oranges have been planted so the oranges can be harvested and eaten. I like this idea having returned recently from living in Valencia in Spain where the oranges are only ornamental. They all drop on the ground and become rubbish. In Valencia the oranges look lovely as they stay on the trees longer because no one picks them as they are inedible. Their orange vitality adds to the aesthetic landscape of Valencia – but, I don’t know, I kind of think it’s a waste of fruit.
Anyway, in Bingara there is this one day of the year where the little kids pick the fruit, get to take a bag home and the rest the little kids take to the local old peoples’ home. The older kids pitch in by being human ladders for the little kids. It sounds just so much fun and brings big and little “kids” together in a common bonding action. A whole culture has built up over 50 years I think it is, around the oranges!! It was refreshing to hear someone who was SO passionate about their community and about a ritual and tradition which revolved around delayed gratification – a dying virtue I feel in our double click and texting society.
There were lots of little events going on up and down the street. There was live music most of the time. A band called Hoi Polloi was playing and their repetoire of generes was fabulous. It made you want to dance. You could see toes tapping on mobility scooters and beside Zimmer frames and in pushers and from all the audience. I’m sure there were so many people who wanted to dance – we are such a danceless society. We frequently don’t let ourselves follow our tapping toes and just let them lead us!! I loved the music and was so content watching fairies and all sorts of animals and orange people drift passed.
I was sitting next to the lovely local granny – I knew she was a granny as her granddaughter came up and said “Gran – can you hold this please? I just have to……..” and she disappeared in a furry of orange taffeta and sprayed hair!! We got chatting. Again I was so improessed how much this granny loved living in Bingara with her children and grandchildren. She saw no limitations placed on any of them by living in a small rural town.
Again – refreshing after the media only spreads that the country towns are dying. This one sure ain’t!! It’s alive and well and living on fresh air and rock and roll and community spirit.
The buildings are quaint – older style and beautifully presented, mostly in keeping with their era. The shop fronts had all been decorated in orange. Even the Op Shop (what do you call these overseas? Charity shops I think. We called them Opportunity Shops – the opportunity to recycle “stuff” which would other wise become landfill) had orange in the window – an orange bib, an orange hairdryer, orange pyjamas, orange face cloth, orange tea towel…… It was fun to see the real estate agent with orange decorations and the clothes shops. Community spirit shone through in all colours – opps, no, just in orange!!!
The Bingara Roxy theatre is fabulous. Well restored with a real sense of yesteryear. And at Peter’s cafe next to the Roxy you can get a milkshake in one of those old aluminium milkshake containers (we’ll just ignore for a moment its aluminium and let nostalgia take over our senses for a moment!!).
You can slide into one of the small cubicle, order a milkshake (or yummy food) and believe you’re a schoolgirl once again after school meeting the boy who has caught your eye (OK – I’m showing my age – I didn’t text him or FB him or prank him – I organised last week to see him again or send a note (yes, a piece of paper with handwriting on it) via my school friend’s brother’s cousin’s neighbour – not through cyber space!!). It was kinda cute – I liked it.
I have to tell you about one of the live acts too….. but that can wait until tomorrow.
All in all I had such a nice day. I LIKE Bingara. I am really looking forward to going back to see more such as along the river is a long row of local rocks which are dated from oldest to newest (by millenium) and a huge park on the river and The Living Classroom which I only saw briefly. And I’m definitely going back for the Orange Festival next year. I’ve some shopping to do though first – for something orange to wear!!