A belated posting of my official report to the Australia Day Council.
Orroroo and Carrieton lie in the upper mid north of South Australia on the road to Hawker and the Flinders Ranges. They’re pretty much the last stop before we start thinking Outback. Orroroo sits right where the Goyder Line divides
It is wheat and sheep country of highest quality and the agricultural properties one sees on the road up from Adelaide are impeccable in every way. The high-tech harvesting and ploughing have transformed much of the handsome undulating landscape into a patchwork of beautifully-worked swirls and stripes. Haysheds stand full to the roof with neatly packed bales of golden hay. Sheep in their masses graze on vast acreages, their wool always blending with the hue of that particular land. Cattle, also graze on the expansive pastures.
Orroroo itself is a quiet town of huge, broad streets with giant silos on edge of town. It is a town which feels incredibly spacious with absolutely beautiful fresh air.
The main street brags two fine hotels, the Council chambers and Post Office, and a set of very useful shops: stationer, butcher, grocer, and a singularly upmarket gift shop among them.
The Council hosted me and my husband with overnight accommodation at Nana’s B&B, a comfortable and historic stone house which had beds and facilities fit for about nine people.
All the comforts of home were laid on and a welcome gift basket of local produce awaited me on the kitchen table.
Notably, the house was home for 50 years to one Nancy Parnell who was to become author of a definitive book on the history of the area. It was a very special feeling to be able to read the book and immerse myself in Orroroo history right in the place where it was written.
It was a short walk from the B&B o the Orroroo Hotel for a meet and greet dinner with the Council Chairman, Kathie Bowman, the Chief Executive, Steve Rufus, and the community liaison Anne Frick who had been my point of contact for the event. About 24 council members and local identities came to the dinner.
Australia Day dawned crisp and bright with morning chill in the air.
We gathered on the picnic lawns beneath huge, ancient red gums at the Lions Park. Ducks paddled around the reeds in the creek. Morning light on the adjoining billabong cast dramatically beautiful shadows reminiscent of the famous H.J. Johnson painting in the Art Gallery of SA - the first painting the Gallery ever purchased.
It was a simply gorgeous place to hold a celebration.
The scent of breakfast BBQ filled the air and the Orroroo and Districts Lions volunteers had a sizzling production line going on. As it turned out, the Orroroo Carrieton Australia Day breakfast of 2017 was something of a record-breaker. People just kept on arriving until the adjoining fields were a sea of
There were farmers and business people, rodeo stars and retirees; a diverse but strong and cohesive community. All very friendly and welcoming.
Local choir, Sing Australia, kept the crowds entertained, as did the 31 questions on the Australian Trivia Quiz provided on the printed programs
And one became aware that this was an event which had been organised with great skill and thoughtfulness. Aussie flags were strung between trees behind the speakers’ area. Trestle tables and chairs had been brought in. There were even table cloths. Plus, an Australia Day cake which mimicked a lamington from the
CEO Steve Rufus made a lively welcoming speech and cued in the National Anthem, sung by Sing Australia. Council Chair Kathie Bowman’s engrossing speech reflected on the fact that farmers and country people these days could be ranked among the remarkable members of society, since their numbers were ever diminishing.
After the choir had sung From the Outback to the Ocean, I gave the Australia Day Ambassador address which centred on the proud sons of Orroroo, famous Australians born in the area, among them the poet Rex
I spoke also of the history of Australia Day and qualities we all love about our country and fellow country people. And about the volunteers who are so much a backbone to community life.
Thereafter the Orroroo Carrieton Citizen of the Year, Lynette Bollinger was presented,
Finally, after more music from the choir, Christy Luckraft was sworn as an Australian citizen by Chair, Kathie Bowman.
Then, the cake was cut and
I managed to get a few photo Tweets out on Twitter and one Facebook image early in the piece but it was really rather hard to do more because of the sociable general interest the local people were taking in my presence and the string of wonderful people I was meeting, including some legends of rodeo.
Reception to my presence as an Australia Day Ambassador was extremely positive and the Council quickly asked for a copy of my speech to publish in its Goyder Gazette.
It is a fantastic Council and community and I felt honoured and heart-warmed to be involved with them.
Thus with a sense of warmth, we left this broad and open old regional town - but not before checking out its oldest resident. At 500 years, the Giant Gumtree is one of the oldest trees inthe country. And it is truly mighty.