Ex-Sydneysider STUART PEARSON looks at Bathurst and its future from the perspective of a new resident.
IN The Sound Of Music, the newly-appointed governess to the Von Trapp family calms the children by singing about her favourite things. Maria speaks about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
I am no poet or songwriter, but I would also like to mention some of my favourite things about this brilliant, remarkable city that I have discovered in the short time that my wife and I have been privileged to call Bathurst home.
- Sounds of the Carillon bells floating through the town square, while couples and families relax under the trees in Kings Parade.
- Visiting the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) during the Unflinching Gaze exhibition about the male figure. I found myself standing in front of a very moving photo montage about a young man in the last years of his life as he slowly dies from AIDS. It may sound macabre and even voyeuristic, but through the lens of the photographer all I saw was the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. When art can make a bloke like me cry, then I know that BRAG is achieving what other art galleries would love to do: make a connection between art and the people. Long may it continue to do so under its new director.
- Learning how to farm organically at Rahamim Ecology Centre. Never knew how versatile animal excrement is!
- Stumbling across Miss Traill’s House (the only National Trust building in Bathurst) while a wedding party was having photos taken. Beautiful couple, gorgeous location.
- Carols in Machattie Park, where family, friends and individuals gather to sing, play and share love. The wide-eyed, innocent beauty of young children waiting expectantly for the arrival of Santa.
- Gourmet dining at any one of Bathurst’s finest restaurants (seriously, SMH Good Food Guide, why haven’t you awarded at least one restaurant in Bathurst a valued “hat” yet?).
- Rediscovering the delicious taste of tree-ripened peaches, nectarines, cherries, figs and apricots from local growers. Living for decades in Sydney, I had forgotten how wonderful fresh fruit should taste.
- The heritage architecture, which abounds in almost every street and suburb of Bathurst and its villages. What a joy it is to unexpectedly come across another century-old building that has been beautifully restored or tastefully adapted to a more contemporary use. Abercrombie House alone is one of the state’s greatest architectural assets and deserves to be a major tourism drawcard for the region. Bathurst, never lose this connection with your past. It is one of your most precious assets.
- Walking along the banks of the Macquarie River in the crisp early morning air.
- A proper Devonshire tea (with scones, jam, cream and a lovely pot of Darjeeling tea) at one of Bathurst’s delightful tea and coffee houses.
- Watching the Sisters of Mercy, while at a local café, quietly explaining the Australian way of life to refugees from worn-torn countries in Asia and the Middle East. A special thanks to the Sisters of Mercy for the caring and kind way you welcome our future citizens to Australia.
- Being stunned by the owner of a shoe shop who suggested we take a selection of shoes home to try them out, without even asking for any security. Such trust has long since vanished from commerce in Sydney.
Bathurst, you are a wonderfully brilliant city and I’ve fallen in love with you. But promise me this: that on your way to become the major regional centre for the Central West of NSW, you never lose the essence of what is so great about you. Your economic dynamism and your growing appreciation of art and culture, but, most importantly, being such a warm and welcoming community.