The year was 1936, Joseph Lyons was Prime Minister, Australia competed in the Berlin Summer Olympics with 32 competitors, 28 men and just four women, and the last known Tasmanian tiger died at Hobart Zoo.
In rural NSW, Greek immigration was on the rise; initially the majority found work in factories or on farms as unskilled or semi-skilled labour – even educated migrants had to settle for a manual job.
Many Greeks tried their hand at running cafes, one thing every Greek knows how to do is cook, and this proved to be very successful for many Greek families.
Greek-run milk bars began to pop up all over the country with names such as the Paragon, Olympia and Parthenon, serving US and British cuisine.
These cafes became an important part of the social fabric of rural towns, acting as meeting points, especially in close-knit country communities. A number of Greeks found their way to Bingara and made it their home, including three men from the Island of Kythera: Emanuel Aroney, Peter Feros and George Psaltis, who in the autumn of 1936 year opened the doors of the Roxy Theatre for the first time The Roxy Theatre, Roxy Cafe, adjoining retail space situated in Maitland Street, and a guesthouse in Cunningham Street were all part of the development.
Peters and Co had operated a successful cafe business in Bingara for nearly ten years before they embarked on the Roxy development.
The theatre was operated by a succession of exhibitors until 1958 when it closed and stood dormant for 40 years.
In 1999 the Bingara Shire Council purchased the Roxy Theatre and restored it with the assistance of grant funds from the State and Commonwealth governments.
This year, in 2016, the Roxy will turn 80, and in honour of this milestone the annual Bingara Orange Festival will go “Greek” in celebration.
The theme of the festival in 2016 will celebrate the contribution of Greek immigrants to rural Australia, and in particular, the lasting legacy they left in Bingara through the Roxy Theatre and Peters Cafe.
All things Greek will be on offer including Greek music and exhibitions, a toga fun run, Greek feast, gardening demonstrations, tours of the Mediterranean garden at Bingara’s ‘Living Classroom’, followed by the Orange Festival military ball and Roxy birthday celebrations on the Saturday evening. There will be Greek films shown at the Roxy on the Sunday.
FRIDAY 1ST JULY
Annual Bingara Orange Picking Ceremony In front of the Bingara RSL Club in Finch St
SATURDAY 2ND JULY
- Civic Centre 7.45am: Fitness Centre toga fun run registrations Main Stage
- 8.30am: Fitness Centre toga fun run commences
- 10.00am: Welcome by Mayor John Coulton
- 10.05am: Fitness Centre fun run award presentation
- 10.15am – 2.00pm: An exciting range of entertainment will be on display at the main stage; there is something for everyone including Greek music, the Bingara Central School choir, Ruby the Clown, grape stomping competition, and much, much more.
- 2.00pm Orange Festival Grand Parade.
The parade theme this year will be the ‘Silver Screen’
FAYS PARK – Kids Corner! Children’s activities presented by the Bingara Preschool Jumping castle, balloon twisting, kids rides, Ruby the Circus performances Cunningham Street
- 12pm – 2pm: Northern Slopes Landcare Greek long lunch.
This year’s long lunch is sponsored by the Northern Slopes Landcare Association and embraces the ethos of “locavore” or 100 mile eating, which is the social movement that advocates eating locally grown food reducing food miles and supporting local producers. The lunch will also celebrate the flavours and freshness of Greek cooking. Tickets are limited so be sure to book early.
- The Roxy Theatre Tours of the Theatre and Greek Café Museum Exhibition ‘The Last Greek Café’
SUNDAY 3rd JULY
Greek films and exhibitions in the Roxy theatre More details will be available closer to the date.
For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on 02 6724 0066.