Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas In the Cathedral Cave

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Wellington Christmas event in the local caves.
The cathedral cave is majestic with superb acoustics. There were about two hundred people singing carols and enjoying the wonderful atmosphere.
I am sorry I was not able to take photos because of the lighting to show you what it was like. I must say it will be a memory that I will treasure always.
As this is my last post until February as I will be on annual leave I take this opportunity to wish you our visitors to the blog a very happy and blessed Christmas time!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Merriwagga Christmas concert


Merriwagga is a tiny village about 40km south of Hillston. It has a population of about 40, a pub, a hall, a church and a silo. However, this is a village that does community events really well. One of them is the annual Christmas concert. There were funny songs, lots of carols and a Christmas message. The highlight for this concert was the Griffith "Sing Australia" choir who came with over 30 members. They performed some wonderful songs for the very appreciative crowd and also lead the carol singing. It was a fantastic commitment by this volunteer choir to come and support the village event.

The other thing that Merriwagga is know for is its catering that the evening was no exception. The nearly 100 people that were there didn't have a hope of making a dent in the fantastic food laid out in the supper room. The night was a wonderful example of great community event.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Long Road to Wanarring

It was at the end of along couple of weeks that I made the trip to Wanarring to attend their annual school Christmas celebration.
The road to Wanarring from Bourke is considered to be one of the worse stretches of road in the state. There are 200k of bone jarring ruts, corrugations and bull dust to boot. On this occasion I was lucky enough to strike the road just after it had been graded. The track was much smoother and I was able to enjoy the unique and striking landscape. On the way back I was privileged to see a pair of wedge tailed eagles enjoying a feast of kangaroo.
Whatever the condition of the road I would recommend the trip to anyone with a capable vehicle. The people of Wanarring are friendly and happy to see visitors to their town.
The school children provided great entertainment and after Santa Claus had dispensed his gifts we all enjoyed a great Christmas feast.
Thanks to Moc and Cherie Parker for their kind hospitality at the Outback Inn.
Kel Hodge

Friday, 18 December 2009

Goolgowi Ladies Lunch


One of the nice customs in some of the small towns at Christmas time is to have a luncheon, usually at the local club, and invite nearly all the district and others to come together and enjoy the company and good food. This was no different at Goolgowi this year when nearly 50 people gathered at the Goolgowi club. With Christmas carols, items and skits it was a most enjoyable and entertaining time. Well done to those who organised it.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Ford's Bridge Celebrates Christmas

On Saturday I was invited to Ford's Bridge for their Christmas party. As the town is only a pub, a hall, a cricket ground and one house the pub is centre for all the community events. The Christmas party at Ford's Bridge has a great reputation and this year was no exception. With Stephen and Rosalie Goldsmith, Rural Chaplains with the Presbyterian Inland Mission, we had some Christmas carols, a talk for the kids and a short bible reading and prayer.

Santa arrived when we'd finished and of course all the kids were very excited. And where else would Santa arrive on a motor bike with thongs on his feet!

After all the excitement we had a BBQ with a couple of sheep that some of the local pastoralists had cut up and donated, and heaps of great salads that families had brought.

There was also a band and as I left at about 10.30pm they were just winding up for the dancing.

I was delighted that the people from Pymble Uniting Church were also able to come and meet some of the folk at Ford's Bridge. All in all a great night.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Pymble Church Visits Enngonia

Pymble Uniting Church members made the long trip to Enngonia to join in the school Christmas celebrations. The Pymble people are exploring the possibilities of a community relationship with Enngonia.

The children celebrated their many achievements over the school year and presented a great drama presenation of a Dream Time story.

Thanks must go to Rosey and her staff at Enngonia School for a great time and wonderful hospitality. Strange as it may seem Santa Claus called in and presented the children with some wonderful gifts.

Kel Hodge

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

More Utes in the Paddock

Julie: For those who enjoyed the picures of the utes in the paddock I was able to stop as I was going past and got some more photos of the extra utes that have been put up. No matter how many times I go I am still amazed by it. I have also taken some photos of the plaques that go with some of the utes. If you would like to see more of the photos click  here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Kids have a great service

The Anglican and Uniting Churches in Hillston combine for their Christmas Children's service where the kids are able to present a play and receive a small gift for all their hard work at Sunday School for the year.

This year the service was especially enhanced by having the Salvation Army brass band supplying the music and the group from Forbes doing a drama and children's time.

It was fantastic to join with the others, fill the Anglican church and enjoy the fellowship - and of course the great spread in the hall afterwards.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Salvos bring their special brand of Christmas hope to Hillston

Each year the Salvation Army organise groups to travel to into rural NSW at Christmas time to bring music, fellowship and a message of hope to small communities. The tours are organised by the Salvation Army Rural Chaplains and as I write this 4 different tours are happening.

It was quite a hectic weekend with a BBQ tea at my place on Saturday night (1st picture), a combined church service on Sun morning (see tomorrow's post), a community Carol's by Candlelight on Sunday night (2nd and 3rd pictures) and then carols at the nursing home on Monday morning.

The people on the tour were mostly retired Salvation Army folk who came from Sydney, the central coast and a variety of other places. They were joined for the weekend by the Officer from Forbes and some of the kids from their youth group.
This is a fantastic ministry and has been really enjoyed by the residents of Hillston.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Sydney Alliance

In the last week I have been privileged to attend Sydney Alliance training. The Sydney Alliance is a community coalition formed to bring about change for the good in the city of Sydney.
The member organisations are various community action groups, trade unions and churches. The organisations are diverse and would not normally cooperate with each other on any one project. The Sydney Alliance through relational conversations has brought the groups together to find common ground and a place to make an impact for the good of civil society in Sydney.

I have found the training stimulating and enlightening. I have met Muslim people, Jewish people, trade unionists and various other representatives of actions groups that I would normally not have the opportunity to meet.
 It has been a wonderful experience! It seems that we all have the most important things in common. That is , the desire for a better way of life for all people in the places where we live.
On Wednesday night over two hundred people gathered to express their willingness and excitement at being a part of the Sydney Alliance.
It would be wonderful to translate such a powerful agent for change into regional NSW.
Kel Hodge

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A great night to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS)


Everyone who lives in the far west understands the importance of the Royal Flying Doctor and how much we rely on them. The CWA in Hillston held a dinner last Thursday to raise money for the RFDS. Nearly 40 women gathered to chat, have a lovely meal at the pub and listen to Dr Katherine Hutt talk about her work with the RFDS in quite a few areas of the far west. Katherine comes to Hillston every 5 or 6 weeks to provide women’s clinic services as the town only has one male Dr. It is a very welcome service and her two days each visit are always booked out.

After dinner Katherine talked about some of her experiences in places like Enngonia, Louth, Hillston etc. As Katherine was a very entertaining speaker there was much laughter and sharing. Many of he women told how the RFDS had saved their lives or the lives of members of their family. The evening was completed by lots of rain and thunderstorms. It was fantastic to watch as many of the women in the room received phone calls from their husbands updating them on the amount of rain that had fallen on their properties. It has been one of the best rains for many months. Of course it also meant that a number of women were worried how they were going to get home on the dirt roads, but it still didn’t lesson the excitement of the rain. It also meant that the next day I had to travel an extra 200km to go the long way round to get to Ivanhoe (stories coming up in the next few days), but it was a delightful reason to have to do so.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Ladies lunch gets bigger and bigger


Twice a year the Ivanhoe Ladies Lunch is held with women coming from a large area. This year a couple of car loads came from the Hatfield area, some from Hillston , and some from Wilcannia, as well as those who live on properties within 100km of Ivanhoe. The aim of the lunch is to bring the women together and provide an opportunity to catch up and share their stories. There are some stalls for Christmas gifts and lots of laughter and fun. Some of the women that I was sitting with live in quite isolated circumstances and they very much look forward to these opportunities. Many of them work on the properties beside other family members but don't get too many times of socialising with other women.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Correction to the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy post


My apologies to everyone but I made an error in the blog post on the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy training. At this stage the Uniting Church is still working on the Memorandum of Understanding with Community Services NSW, it has not been signed yet.

A Social night in Ivanhoe


Despite the rain and closed roads more than 50 adults and 20 kids gathered at the Ivanhoe
club to hear John Harper speak. John has quite a reputation across NSW for speaking to groups in rural communities about depression. His presentation is always entertaining and informative and Friday night was no exception. His visit was sponsored by Workcover and organised by the Broken Hill Rural Service Providers Network.

After the talk we all had a BBQ dinner provided by Industry and Investment NSW and a good chance to talk about some of the issues. It was an excellent opportunity to catch up with some of the locals and of course there was a lot of talk about the good rainfalls.


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