Bundanoon SesquicentenaryA Celebration of Bundanoon's 150 Years
Bundanoon’s 150th birthday celebrations
A Community . . . since 1865
2015 began in Bundanoon with special signs set up at both ends of the village welcoming all to Bundanoon’s 150th anniversary! A notice-board went up on the side of the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall to keep the community and visitors informed of all the opportunities month by month to enjoy ‘Bundanoon 150’, as the sesquicentenary year came to be known.
In February, events kicked off at the Bundanoon Garden Club when Trish Arbib shared the History of Nurseries in the village, and the Bundanoon History Group placed in the waiting room at the station framed archive photographs, showing the significance of the station throughout Bundanoon’s 150 years.
The celebrations began officially with a Cocktail Party in the Hall in early March, with a guest list recognising the ‘old’ families of Bundanoon, and the many organisations, businesses, committees and volunteers, who made a significant contribution. At this very special event, Christine Janssen, the Convenor of the ‘Bundanoon 150’ Sub-Committee of BCA, presented the Sesquicentenary Medal to The Hon. Pru Goward, State Member for Goulburn, and to the then Mayor of Wingercarribee Shire Council, Duncan Gair.
The event was also the launch of the Pink Boronia as the official emblem of ‘Bundanoon 150’, which in many forms graced all the events held throughout the year. This beautiful emblem will be permanently visible in the village on the restored BUNDANOON sign at the railway station, thanks to work by the Bundanoon Men’s Shed.
BCA set a goal of some long-term legacies from the Sesquicentenary to go beyond the immediate focus of enjoying the events during the year. One of those goals is the rejuvenation of Leaver Park, which began on Clean Up Australia Day for 2015 when 10 cubic metres of rubbish was piled up from the area for collection. We were also invited to stage an exhibit in the Southern Highlands Visitor’s Centre, which attracted a number of visitors to the Highlands to Bundanoon’s events during the year.
During March the Bundanoon Community Garden held the Grow Cook Eat Festival, highlighting food through the ages, while the Bundanoon History Group offered mini bus tours that shared the fascinating history of both the people and the buildings of the village.
The Art of Needle Work: Past and Present, planned and prepared by the Needles & Natter Sub-Committee of BCA, highlighted the talent and skills of women who knit, sew and weave not only for enjoyment, but also to provide beautiful and useful articles for the home. Visitors and groups from near and far enjoyed the display held over two days.
Brigadoon (always in April) acknowledged the Sesquicentenary during their announcements on the day, and the Bundanoon Public School entry in the Brigadoon street parade was a wonderful effort with a special birthday cake float getting a lot of attention. In May Serendipity: the Choir provided a choral reflection with a series of three performances of As Time Goes By.
On the long weekend in June 300 folk dancers descended on Bundanoon from as far away as Tasmania and Queensland for the 7th Bundanoon DanceFest. Then in mid-June the Bundanoon Garden Club held an informative and well attended Winter Seminar with excellent presentations from garden experts, Sabrina Hahn, John Siemon and Stuart Read, examining the history of the Australian home garden and other areas of interest to local gardeners.
Voices from the Past shared early residents’ recollections in a number of oral histories recorded by the Bundanoon History Group. This event most appropriately took place in the Old Methodist Church and during 2015 BCA worked with BHG to take the opportunity to use this heritage building in many different ways.
In June the Hall was temporarily turned into the ‘Palm Court’, where Arts Bundanoon put on The Art of Afternoon Tea. Arts Bundanoon brought together a special reflection on how many an afternoon was spent in the earlier days of living in the Shire. Guests sipped tea from fine china and enjoyed dainty nibbles – some of the china was lent for the occasion by residents of Warrigal Care as their contribution to ‘Bundanoon 150’. Further exploring our history, at the end of August the Bundanoon History Group shared Treasures from the Past, having on display significant collections of old wares, tools, small machinery and many other varied and intriguing objects – some intriguingly hard to identify.
A highlight of performance in the Hall – and a first – were a Master Class and a Recital by world-renowned Australian pianist Roger Woodward on Friday and Saturday 10th and 11th July. The Master Class gave four students of piano a chance to play, listen and learn from this wonderful pianist, and the sold out Recital provided the audience with a masterful performance by a consummate artist.
Early in September, in addition to the village’s 150 years to reflect on, the Bundanoon Brigade of the Rural Fire Service celebrated 75 years of being an important service to the community, and St Brigid’s Catholic Church celebrated their 120-year anniversary with a consecrated plaque set up at the Church, acknowledging both their years and Bundanoon’s.
One of the real highlights of the year was the arrival at the end of September of the Kangaroo March, during its centenary re-enactment of the famous WW I recruiting march. To commemorate the event the village had a visit from the Premier of NSW, The Hon. Mike Baird. The BCA was pleased to be able to present a Sesquicentenary Medal to him. The NSW State Library brought an extraordinary exhibition of WW1 Diaries to display in the Old Methodist Church, which added a real and moving sense of how things were one hundred years ago. The Marchers were welcomed to the village and escorted to the Bundanoon Public School grounds where they camped, as had happened in 1915. The Bundanoon Lions Club and Bundanoon RSL provided dinner – described by the marchers as one of the best on their journey. Melting Pot Theatre put on a show reviving old stories and songs that will long be remembered by all who were able to join in. Another memorable and special part of this event was the reading of their own researched stories about the Kangaroo March by pupils from our primary school.
As part of the preparation for the Kangaroo March The Green Team planned to plant Flanders Poppies, a close link to the time, in the public gardens around the village, but southern hemisphere seasons made that impossible, so they planted Red Poppies instead to mark this memorable re-enactment.
The Festival of Carriage Driving, held over the October holiday weekend, attracted competitors from all over Australia and the elegantly restored carriages were a great attraction. Soon after the Bundanoon Garden Ramble featured some gardens over 100 years old as part of their contribution to the Sesquicentenary year. JCG Food & Wine organised a sumptuous 150th dinner with 150 in attendance as the celebrations began to move to a close.
Bundanoon Public School presented an entertaining overview of 150 years of Bundanoon history in their end-of-year concert ‘The Terrific Time Travel Train’, with each class group presenting beautifully performed and colourful acts based on different time periods.
The year’s celebrations ended with a Street Party, which focused on the younger members of our community. They all enjoyed games from the past, delicious food, a lucky dip – and the arrival of Santa. Some ‘younger’ adults enjoyed the Santa Dash – a sight to behold.
Other projects which were started as part of the Sesquicentenary in 2015 and which will continue to completion in the years ahead (as well as the rejuvenation of Leaver Park, mentioned earlier) include the upgrading of the Bundanoon Community Pool, developing an appropriate Brigadoon-related sculpture, a permanent record in the village of the ‘Don’t Bore Bundanoon/Bundy on Tap’ campaign, and the planting of many allocasuarina litoralis trees (she-oaks), to increase the population of this native tree, a favoured source of food for the glossy-black cockatoo, an endangered species in the Bundanoon area.
Of course, the Sesquicentenary’s success was due to all who came along, joined in and supported everything that was put together, who brought friends and family too, to the outstanding efforts of the groups within our community, the volunteers, the local businesses and support from Council. All put in a lot of time, shared creative ideas and thoughts about how to recognise such a special year, and gave financial support for all we hoped to achieve.
Another significant contribution to the success of 2015 was the Bundanoon Soldiers’ Memorial Hall. It transformed itself from musical and choral performances, readings from newspapers of the time of the Kangaroo March, lovely dinners, and a huge array of events, the ‘heat’ of the launch, the joy in children’s old games being discovered and played again, and in so many ways simply made things work. A treasure from the past indeed.
[based on an article by Christine Miller and Christine Janssen in JCG 84, March 2016]