As international superpowers square up to crucify each other this Easter, it was heartening to hear about a humble story of local “togetherness”.
In a unique pooling of talent, resources and passion, the townships of Gresford and Dungog have formed a “unity ticket” to co-promote their respective Easter Saturday events.
The unfortunate fact each year is the Gresford Billy Cart Derby and Easter Fair, and Dungog Rodeo go head-to-head, cancelling each other out to an extent.
For Dungog rodeo man Tom Borer it seemed counter-productive so he contacted Gresford Billy Cart Derby organiser Graham Chapman and the unity ticket was born.
Easter Saturday adventurers are now being encouraged to head out to Gresford in the morning for the billy cart racing, before taking the 20-minute driver “over Bingleburra hill” to settle in for the Dungog rodeo that afternoon and evening.
It’s a co-operative approach US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Kremlin counterpart Sergei Lavrov could maybe emulate as they discuss whether to blow up the world – but somehow you doubt it.
“I’ve done the Great Ocean Road, and I’ve done the Bingleburra Hill run from Gresford to Dungog, and , scenery-wise, it’s tight – the country’s never looked so good after this rain,” Tom enthused this week.
Nor has the Billy Cart Derby, according to Graham. It’s gone to a new level this year with the introduction of a range of technological innovations worthy of Bathurst.
Speed cameras and a Variable Message Board will record and communicate times, TVs along the track will keep the crowd informed on placings, and the Member for Lyne, David Gillespie, will race off against a 14-year-old member of the CWA in one of the most eagerly anticipated celebrity showdowns in recent years.
Gillespie is responsible for the road upgrade through Gresford so he’ll have heaps of support – if the rain holds off and the upgrade is finished in time – probably even if it isn’t.
Racing starts in front of the Beatty Hotel, which is always a good place to view Billy Cart racing, or anything really, even at 10am, and particularly as the Easter bunny may be in one of the carts.
Organisers plan a “world first” podium presentation at racing’s end, and have teamed with Peterson House Sparkling Wines to bottle “Billy Cart Derby soda water” which the triumphant winners will be able to spray over adoring fans.
On top of all that there’ll be food, markets, cow poo lotto, gum boot throwing, classic car displays, awesome food and live music – the kind of family entertainment you wish the G7 would focus on rather than planning WWIII.
More the reason then to mosey over to Dungog in the arvo to watch man and beast go head to head, and sometimes bum to ground, at the rodeo. Dungog is one of the best in the country and Tom assures the livestock will be lively.
A full program of events, local food, arts, crafts and hospitality, capped off by live music and free camping at the Showground really is an invitation to pull up some dirt and settle in for the night. Come Easter Sunday, you can rise again for the East Coast Junior Rodeo Championships from 8am to 2pm.
Be it ever so humble, Gresford and Dungog should be commended for their Easter unity ticket, providing an example the rest of the world could follow.