IT feels like it’s yet to really capture locals’ attention, but there’s a friendship growing between Bathurst and a small town in England that is looking more and more likely to develop into something important.
Cynicism would have been excused when it was announced a few years ago that Bathurst and the Cotswolds town of Cirencester wanted to explore closer ties.
In the history of local government, unfortunately, it’s not unknown for councils to develop a spurious interest in a community on the other side of the world so representatives of each can enjoy a trip every couple of years without much (apart from the souvenirs) to show for it.
But the Bathurst-Cirencester arrangement is showing all the signs of being very different.
For a start, the interest in Bathurst from our northern hemisphere neighbour seems genuine – and enthusiastic.
Cirencester has, so far, organised a giant postcard to send to Bathurst, has held a number of functions in honour of the friendship (one attended by then Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer) and has set up a fund to send a young person to Bathurst for an educational experience.
Cirencester’s Simon King was in Bathurst earlier this year for weeks on what he called a part fact-finding mission, exploring the city and establishing ties with sporting and community bodies.
And this week we have welcomed young Cirencester student Alice Chandler, the first beneficiary of the educational experience fund – and she is likely to be only one of many.
But what about Bathurst?
Locals who have included Cirencester on their itinerary while travelling in England have, from all reports, been treated royally – including, in the most recent case, getting a private tour on the estate of Earl Bathurst (which is where the connection between Bathurst and Cirencester comes from).
For the cynics and the sceptics – and this newspaper is prepared to be as cynical and sceptical as anyone else – it’s all looking befuddlingly successful.
Mr King, when he visited Bathurst earlier this year, said he would one day like to see a shop in Cirencester selling Bathurst produce, art and craft, which seemed ambitious at the time.
The way this friendship is panning out, that shop might be open sooner than we all think.