Australia Day Ambassador proud to be a country boy

February 12, 2009

Bingara’s Australia Day Ambassador, George Barton, is very proud to be a country boy. Speaking to a crowd of over 400 people at the Bingara Swimming Pool on Australia Day, Mr. Barton said "one thing that makes me very proud of who I am and what I do is I base myself in Tamworth where I grew up."

"I spent four or five years travelling around. I spent time are the institute of sport, training down there. "But when I had a choice at the crossroads of my life, where I was going to go, was I going to go to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane to train and compete there, or was I going to move back to Tamworth where my family and friends were. "To me it was a no-brainer of a decision," Mr. Barton said.

"I moved straight back into the country to rural Australia. It always perplexes me when I travel and when I speak to people, especially inside Australia, and they say ‘Where are you from’ and I say ‘I am from Tamworth’, and I say half way between Sydney and Brisbane, and they look at me a bit puzzled.

"They say ‘Well, why do you live out there?’, but I sit there and look at them puzzled – Why do you live in Sydney? Like, I don’t understand why they do it.  I was there (in Sydney) all last week, and I drove around for a week, going ‘You guys are crazy’ I cannot believe why you do this.

"This is a classic example why I am so proud and so vocal about regional Australia and what it can offer; for people to get out of the cities and move to the regional areas, and this what we are here today, it is what Australia Day is all about.

"I was getting out of the shower today to come up here, and normally when you go to a function you wear suit, tie, at least a pair of jeans, and I got up here, and I said ‘no, it’s at the pool, perfect idea of what Australia Day means to me, an afternoon outdoors like this, shorts and thongs.  "I thought that was appropriate, we are very relaxed people.

That’s why I love Australia and I love everything about it so much. I was lucky enough to have travelled around the world.  I’m just a boy from Tamworth, I’m off the farm down there, my parents have got farms down there, my brother works it, my father as well, they have been there for 70 or 80 years on the same place."

"I had no intentions of leaving Tamworth, I had no intentions of going out of New South Wales, but from the ages of 19 to 22, I had been on every continent of the world twice, except Antarcica, obviously."

"I have seen a lot of things. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. they just said here’s a ticket to Peru or here’s a ticket to Brazil or somthing like that, and I was on a plane I was going."

"The first five or six years I travelled, I never had a camera, I never took a photo. But now things have changed a little bit, I am older and sentimental.

"The biggest thing I did learn, and the younger guys here and the people who haven’t travelled, is that when they say we live in the luckiest country in the world they say it for a reason.

There is no better sight I have ever seen in my life, in a Jumbo jet, you are flying into Sydney on a six o’clock flight, you touch down, the sun’s coming up, you see the harbour of Sydney, and you know you are back and you are about to touch down back in Australia, there is no better feeling when I travel."

"The best part about travelling is landing back in Australia, That’s what I believe anyway.

Thank you very much for letting me come here today, the younger guys here today, the younger guys and girls, these are times of your life, a lot of you will travel, and move on, and go and live in the big cities and things like that, but I cannot imagine another place in metropolitan Australia where they would have such a close community such a great setting here in the park, the pool as well, but such good facilities as well."

"Like this outdoor setting with the lights and scaffolding as well, this is not some backward sort of thing, this is a very professional set up venue, and the whole thing was done here."

"When Rebecca rang me and said will you be Ambassador for Bingara, I said I would love to be Ambassador for Bingara because you talk to people, and when you live in your own town, you don’t hear the feedback from other people.  Bingara is a small town that punches well above its weight in all categories, in sport, in arts and in community in general."

"The whole Gwydir shire is only a small shire, compared to where they have made big super shires.  I think you guys need to be very proud and very happy, and all those sort of things combined, you live in one of the best places in Australia. You have this little pocket here, you have the river, and there are so many things here that make it so great, it is one of the hidden gems of Australia I believe. But I’m a little biased, because I am from just down the road," Mr. Barton said.