Fifty years on, Bingara’s oranges are sweeter than ever

August 6, 2010

Bingara students from Pre school through to Year 12 marked the 50th Anniversary of orange picking on Friday.

Although this year’s crop was lighter than normal, the children, by sharing their bounty, made sure there were enough oranges for each child.

Before the children were dispatched to pick the fruit along Finch Street and on the edge of Gwydir Oval, they took part in the annual ceremony in front of the Bingara RSL Club.

During the ceremony, Principal, Mark Vale praised the foresight of the then Bingara Shire Council, in particular, the Shire Clerk, Don Whiteman, and the RSL Club in planting the trees to commemorate soldiers from the Bingara area who died while on active service, as Orange Picking has become a major event in the school and town each year.

Year 12 students, Kristen Heal and Jade Dixon, who together wrote a poem about Orange Picking when they were in Year 6, addressed the gathering.  Their poem and speech follows:

“Oranges are very juicy
But they really have a purpose
For they are there
To commemorate
Our family and their mates
Who went to war
To fight for us
For ever more
Lest WE forget.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Jade and I wrote that poem in Year 6 and six years on we still remember it, a reflection of how important Orange Picking Day is not only to us but the entire student body and Bingara Community.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Bingara’s annual orange picking ceremony. The orange trees lining Finch Street and circling the Gwydir oval have become a symbol of community pride that has attracted international interest.

The trees were planted as a living memorial to Bingara’s fallen both men and women in WW1 and 11. The trees and the annual harvesting of the fruit by Bingara Central School children happens on only one day of the year, a much anticipated day that we all look forward to.

“As Year 12 students, this is our final year of harvesting the oranges. Many a fond memory remains however in our minds forever. From climbing to the highest branch to pick the biggest orange, to the race to see who could pick the most, to sitting back at school, orange juice running down our faces.

“Memories of Rick Hutton, singing ‘Oranges Everywhere’, old Alec Cross reading his poems as every child sat and listened with amazement. Finally, those silly boys who would drag a football bag filled with oranges up the road back to school where their mates would look in disappointment at not having as many.

“As we grew older we began to realise how important the oranges were. It was no longer just a day to pick the oranges, it was a moment to remember our great grandparents, community members and Australians who gave their life for the country we now live in today. For that we are thankful.

“The first day we ever ran up Finch Street, our little legs were tired by the time we finally found the perfect tree.

“Every year, the stronger we grew, that one more orange we  could put in our bags. Now 13 years on we look up the street lined with orange trees and our hearts pump, just as they did when we were five years old as we get ready to run down to the nearest tree.  Today we will help those little ones to reach that big juicy orange in that highest branch because we want memories of this day to be as fond as ours.

“We are here today to join together as a community to commemorate our fallen ancestors, those who died for us, so we could be here today,  to stand tall and proud, to, to smile,  and look down the road at just how lucky we are. So boys and girls as the time nears to pick up our bags and harvest those oranges take a moment to remember why we are here.

“As you pull an orange off the tree, remember those men and women who died for us, and most of all have fun and enjoy the lifetime of memories these oranges will provide,” Kristen and Jade concluded.