Small towns around the nation are looking for an “angle” upon which a sales pitch can be based to bring tourists and perhaps new residents to their streets.
Every two years a conference is held to discuss the critical issue of how to keep the small towns of NSW thriving and for four days this week, Broken Hill is the host town. Called the State Economic Development Conference, Bingara has sent three representatives from Vision 2020; President, Frances Young, committee members Erik Ozols and Rick Hutton, who will be delivering an address to the conference. Leeah Daley is also attending, representing Gwydir Shire Council.
Broken Hill has been called a “museum without walls”. It is also an art gallery without walls, with murals on buildings and a sculpture garden on the outskirts of town. Famous as a mining town, Broken Hill has a great deal to offer visitors and locals alike. With its galleries, which have sprung up since the “Brushmen of the Bush”, led by Pro Hart, established a presence in the town, its fascinating architecture, as well as its long history in creating wealth and employment through mining, Broken Hill has much to offer visitors.
One session of the conference will focus on the achievements of six small towns which have helped themselves. Bingara is to feature in this session, the story of its progress and its projects being presented by Mr Hutton. The small village of Uki on the north coast and Lockhart in the Riverina are also included in the session.
Before leaving for the conference, Mr Hutton told the Advocate that he would be talking about the formation of Vision 2020 and its achievements thus far. The Roxy development, the Riverscape Project, Cunningham Trail, regenerative energy and the Bingara Farm Gardens (now called the Living Classroom) will all be mentioned in Mr Hutton’s speech.
The address however, will revolve around sustainability not being good enough. The focus of Vision 2020 and its goal for the future is “regeneration,” meaning growth, by using the best of the old ideas while incorporating the best of the new, along with the optimism and confidence of our young people.
He said Bingara’s story is unique in that it will detail a process which has looked across the whole community, rather than just focusing on a single project. The other towns’ presentations, which Mr Hutton has heard, detail single projects which have been accomplished.
Broken Hill will be putting forward its restored Bells Milk Bar and Museum in its presentation. The milk bar, with original decor dating back to the 1950s , offers patrons the opportunity to explore Broken Hill’s social history, as well as offering an insight into Australia’s unique milk bar and cafe culture. Bells contribution to the town has been recognised with multiple tourism awards.
Many small towns as well as large ones, will be represented at the Conference in Broken Hill. Sadly, for many, a past rich with life and success does not guarantee a bright future. Rick is hoping to return to Bingara “envigorated and uplifted”.