Thursday, 24 September 2009

Utes in the paddock

Off the main highway near Ootha is a well hidden but amazing sight. Called "Utes in the Paddock" is a collection of utes that have been painted/welded/enhanced to portray iconic Australian themes and characters. If you are travelling on the Parkes/Condobolin road, turn south at the silos and go about 2km down the Mulgutherie Road. You will be well rewarded the slight detour. I've included some of the pictures but to see more go here.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Central West Farming Systems celebrates 10 years


Central West Farming Systems is a farmer organisation that was set up to do agronomic research in the central west of NSW. Based at Condobolin it is run by a committee made up of farmers from a wide area and focuses on cutting edge research that is relevant to producers in the area. It has been an up and down ten years with constant searching for funds but currently the group employs 5 people and is going from strength to strength.

To help celebrate their 10 years a women's symposium was organised with many excellent speakers and over 100 women in attendance. This was followed by a dinner in the evening with a significant number of those involved in the setting up of the organisation and keeping it running over the years coming together. As a former committee member I have a beaut time catching up with good friends and colleagues but more than that, I enjoyed celebrating 10 years for a farmer driven organisation that is doing significant research and is making a difference.

Monday, 21 September 2009

A great opportunity


There are many great moments in this job but some are especially wonderful. Recently I was asked if I knew of any scholarships for Indigenous students to go away for their senior years of high school study. 3 girls in Hillston wanted to go to Kinross-Walaroi school (run by the Uniting Church) in Orange.
When I rang the school I was delighted to hear that they are very keen to get students such as these and go to extraordinary lengths to make it happen. In fact the Registrar wanted to meet the girls and their parents as soon as possible.

So with some financial help from the church’s Rural Support Services to pay for accommodation and meals, 8 of us set off for Orange to check out the school and talk about the possibilities. After an afternoon touring the school the girls spent the night in the boarding house while the mothers and I had an evening in a nearby motel. Everyone was very impressed with the facilities and the helpfulness of the school.

A most successful trip and it looks like 2 of the girls will start after the October holidays and the other next year. And of course Hillston is such a small town that everyone knew what was going on almost before I did and there has been tremendous support from other town members with people offering cars to drive to Orange etc. It has been a great experience all round and I am hoping that the level of support will continue to help these young women gain the most from this opportunity.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Balloons Ahoy

This weekend I have counted some eight hot air balloons over Canowindra. There must be a gathering for competition and probably fun.
It is a far cry from the peak of the Martie's Balloon Fiesta days when up to one hundred balloons would gather at Canowindra to compete.

It is good to see the beautifully colored sentinels in our skies! The thought of drifting peacefully on the breeze appeals to most us I am sure.

Kel Hodge

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Rural Chaplains Gather at Parkes

On Monday and Tuesday of this week the Chaplains and others engaged in rural ministry, gathered in Parkes to share our stories and to be informed by the program organised for the two days.
There were representatives from the Salvation Army, The Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church and the Uniting Church.

This time it was the Salvos turn to organise and present the program. Major Robert Strong put together a great program of devotional and educational sessions of which the highlight was Colonel Don Woodland speaking of his experiences and understanding of being an emergency response chaplain.

Thanks once again to all those who travelled a long way to be a part of the gathering.

Kel Hodge

When Service Providers work together


The service network in the Lachlan Shire is proving to be a useful network for the providers to work together on projects. The Condobolin Show was one example. The CMA made some table space available and all the services provided materials to go on the table. These were then put into show bags for locals to take with them so lots of information was distributed. It was a great way to get a variety of information out there.

Apart from that the show was a great day with lots of activities, horses, cattle and sheep and of course the farmyard animals. But just to balance this was the reptile man with the snakes and crocodile.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Thanks from Ungarie Preschool

Ungarie Preschool usually meets in their own building at Ungarie but were unable to do so this term as the hall was undergoing renovations. To hire a bus to take the children to West Wyalong 3 times a week was an extra cost that the mothers in the area could not afford, so we were asked for some help. As you can see from the email received below it was a great success and most appreciated.
Dear Kel

On behalf of the Ungarie Preschool I would like to thank you and your association for the generous donation towards the bus for our children to travel to Preschool in West Wyalong while our Preschool rooms were having some construction work done. This was greatly appreciated and as you can see the ‘bus ride’ was a great part of the adventure to a different Preschool. I have forwarded a receipt for the donation and a copy of the bill we paid with it to Geoff Wellington for your records.

For your interest, Emma McRae’s daughter Ella is the little girl in the middle of this photo, and my daughter Abby is the one on the right. They are great friends and will go to school together next year.

Thank you again for your support and organisation of this donation.

Kind regards

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Maquarie Darling Presbytery

What do you do when your Presbytery is over 1000km from end to end. Well if you are the Macquarie Darling Presbytery, you hold 2 day meetings twice a year. This way people can get together and spend time going through the business and also have some time for training  and other things.
During the last 2 day meeting in Dubbo I was asked to go along and talk about some of the things I am doing. It was great to be able to share with some great people from churches all across the Presbytery.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Anglicans gather


I had the priviledge last weekend of running some workshops for the church leaders from the Anglican Riverina Diocese at their annual training conference. It was a great bunch of people from over a wide area, all with a passion for bringing the Christian messages to the communities they minister in. The theme for the weekend was "Ministering in different cultures" and the guest speakers, David and Robyn Claydon, gave some fascinating insights into their work in Muslim, Hindu and Communist cultures. Workshops focused on the various everyday cultures such as sport, the aged, youth, and the Diocese. I covered the rural culture and it was great to share ideas and experiences with those there.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Great days in Nymagee and Cobar

The cobar rural network organised information days in Nymagee and Cobar this week. There were a number of services represented including centrelink, rural financial counsellor Salvation Army Baptist church Drought Mental Health TAFE Business Enterprise Centre and me representing the Uniting Church. My part of the day was to run a session on managing change.

In Nymagee about 30 people gathered organised by the local progress association and not only were the presentations great but the catering by the cwa was fabulous country hospitality. A smaller group in cobar also heard some good stuff and enjoyed a BBQ lunch at the Bowling Club.

With all the work that Kel and I have been putting into networks it is great to see outcomes such as these two days. It is also an excellent way to meet locals and start building relationships.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Submission to NSW Dept of Primary Industry (now DII) on drought policy

The NSW Government is reviewing their drought policy and has asked for suggestions particularly in the areas of farm family welfare and community resilience. If you would like to look at the submission we have made you can find it at this link or at the panel on the right. Any comments or thoughts would be most welcome.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Rural Church Internationally

For those interested in finding out what is happening with rural churches in other countries you might like to look at the International Rural Churches Association site. There is information on networks around the world, past and future conferences and some interesting papers.
The next International Rural Churches Association conference, "Hunger - the global challenge" is being held in Germany in Sept 2010. For more information click on this link.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Joshua's Kitchen

I am in Jannali in the southern part of Sydney at the moment. Good friends of mine Gareth Thomas-Burchell and his wife Karyn Burchell-Thomas are hosting me in their home.
An important part of Gareth's ministry as a Uniting Church minister is Joshua's Kitchen. Joshua's Kitchen has been operated by the Jannali Congregation for some years to provide a meal and a safe place for whoever wishes to turn up.
Joshua's Kitchen opens weekly and every second week Gareth leads worship for those who want to attend.
I was struck by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere which was highlighted by the recognition of one of the  group who turned four years old.
The Jannali congregation work hard to make this event happen for people who are not a part of their usual community. It is a great example of the Gospel's call to offer what we have to others.
Kel Hodge


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