ABC’s Landline featured Roxy Celebrations

May 10, 2011

The celebrations of the 75th Anniversary of The Roxy held on the weekend of the 9th April have been hailed as a triumph. They have well and truly demonstrated what a small rural community that believes in its future is able to achieve.

The festivities were met with an overwhelmingly positive response, not just from the local community but from the large numbers of guests who travelled from across Australia to attend.

The extraordinarily successful event attracted wide interest from the media.  The celebrations captured the imagination of the press, radio and television, not just from the region, but on a national level. 

The ABC responded by sending a crew from its rural current affairs program Landline.  Since 1991 this program has been ABC-TVs Landline to features main vehicle for current affairs coverage of regional/rural issues and events.

The multi-award winning show typically features stories, ranging across agri-politics and economics, business and product innovation, animal and crop science, regional infrastructure, climate and weather trends, regional and rural services, music and lifestyle.

As much as anything, Landline’s enduring popularity is based on its ability to explain and contextualise the issues affecting Australians living and working in the bush, to those living in our big cities.

Journalist Pip Courtney and her Landline crew arrived in Bingara on Thursday prior to the weekend and spent four days filming  interviews and footage of the event.

The communitywere welcomed to a public screening of the Landline episode live on the big screen on Sunday May 8. It was an opportunity not just to experience the highlights,  but also to appreciate what the event entailed.

A large part of the event’s success was due to the enormous contribution of large numbers of Roxy and community volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure that every facet of the weekend ran smoothly.

The commitment and enthusiasm of the volunteers did not go unnoticed, and many positive comments were received about how much their involvement added to the wonder-fully convivial atmosphere over the two days. 

The Bingara Lions Club is to be congratulated for their significant contribution.  As well as assisting on Saturday afternoon and evening, the Lions prepared a magnificent breakfast that was enjoyed by over 150 people in The Roxy Café on Sunday morning.                                

Following the screening onSunday a barbecue lunch was prepared by the Lions and was served in the courtyard. The afternoon provided an opportunity for the community to feel proud of its achievements.

George Vardas, the Cultural Officerof the Kytherian Association of Australia, was inspired to write the following on his return to Sydney following the 75th Anniversary of The Roxy: 

“The township of Bingara is de-scribed in the tourist literature as the Gem of the Gwydir. The restored Roxy Theatre and Peters Café have just added a new sparkle to that jewel.”

“The locals were fantastic. On the first day, local businessman Rick Hutton introduced the various speakers inside the Roxy and gained loud applause for his equally loud suits and bow ties."

“He made the point that country towns are dying and in the Roxy the locals have placed high hopes for a re-naissance in tourism and the perform-ing arts as people travel to Bingara to be part of the Roxy phenomenon."

“The vivacious and energetic Roxy Manager, Sandy McNaughton, spoke with passion about the effort to restore the Roxy and described how she had been overwhelmed by the response of the Greek community."

As Sandy explained, the Roxy is a story about big ideas which had its humble beginnings in Kythera.

“The restoration efforts that went into the re-birth of Peters Café as a café and refreshment room were nothing short of miraculous. Peters Café is a vivid, living reminder of that part of our collective history.

“In the afternoon, the street in front of the Roxy was converted into an open dining room with white table-clothed tables, a special menu, olive branches and tea lights to create that special Mediterranean ambience in a rural outback setting.

“After the offcial speeches, the patrons were able to enter the café and enjoy a milk shake. Not a thick shake or some latter day milky abomination, but a real milk shake with country milk, dollops of ice cream and rich flavo, made by experts such as Con Fardouly, Peter Makarthis and even our own George Poulos. A milkshake to die for.

“And then came the food and the dancing. Roast lamb, goat, spanako-pita, Zorba the Greek, zembekika, plate smashing, olive branches, kef and an Australian acting icon Yian-nis Xylo (aka John Wood) all came together under a starry-lit night in a fantastic celebration of a dream come true.

“A troupe of Greek dancers in traditional costume performed a range of Greek dances. The Roxy complex, a palace of dreams from a bygone age, had come alive.

“Greek dancing also took over the square, followed by the inevitable smashing of plates. This was possibly the most un-Kytherian thing of the night: paying money to buy plates only to send them hurtling into the ground. But it made for good vision as the filmcrew from ABC’s Landline program captured the celebrations and the dancing and the kefi.It was as though Bingara meets Mitata.

“It was truly a memorable and great weekend. Kythera now has a new adopted town. Although not on the island, the township of Bingara will remain in our hearts and minds forever.”