Willoughby Exchange in its 20th year

July 3, 2015

This year’s Orange Festival marked 20 years since the sister city relationship began between Willoughby and Bingara. At the time, the region including Bingara were struggling through a heartbreaking drought. Willoughby wanted to provide assistance to a town facing hardship and Bingara was the town they chose.

Twenty years on and the relationship continues to grow strong with the Willougby Exchange as popular as ever as students from both Bingara and Willoughby travel to each other’s towns to experience their way of life.

Willoughby Exchange Students 2015
Back row – Ben Johns, Tom Southwell, Hao Wei Sun, Rusttin Tubig, Jacob Hodge, Mitchell Bell, Callum Baillie (Supervisor), Lachlan Butler.  Front row: Bradley Weber, Lucy Myers (Supervisor), Anna Wu, Farhanah Fauni, Christine Wong, Naomi Tsui.

This year six Students from Gwydir Shire and six students from Willoughby City Council met at the Living Classroom as part of the annual youth exchange program.

Throughout the weekend the Willoughby students were given the opportunity to experience what it is like to live in a rural area and see how different it is compared to city life.

Gwydir students showed off their Shire and what it has to offer. In return, they enjoyed learning about the lives of the students from Willoughby and their diverse backgrounds.

“On Thursday, we took an eight hour bus trip,” said Willouby student, Rusttin Tuby when he addressed the crowd at this year’s Orange Festival. “This is the furthest I have been out of Sydney. On the first night, we had dinner at the pub. We had ridden the horses, and fed the kangaroos, and we enjoyed picking oranges.

“I came to Bingara to experience different lifestyles, and find out about the country in NSW. So far, everyone has been very nice to me.”

This year’s program was full and activities included visits to Myall Creek, Cranky Rock, Gravesend, Mayor Coulton’s farm, a trail ride along the Gwydir River, orange picking, feeding kangaroos, attending the Orange Festival, the Military Ball and a very informative tour of the living classroom conducted by Environmental Services Director, Glen Pereira and included tree planting on the site.

The exchange concluded with the annual bonfire and BBQ at Cr. Pankhurst’s property, Bora.

“The young people from both Council areas thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the program and would encourage all young people to apply for next year’s event,” said Social Services Officer, Alyse Steiger.

“Thank you to all those who helped to make this a very successful exchange.”