A large crowd gathered at the Boggabri HACC building for breakfast and to meet and to celebrate Australia Day with the Narrabri Shire ambassador John Harper.

Craig Devine chaired the proceedings and invited Annette Humble to give a ‘Welcome to Country.’ Caroline Stone sang a beautiful rendition of Advance Australia Fair prior to the flag raising.

Mark Coulton, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications, and Member for Parkes spoke fondly of his connection with Boggabri and told the audience that his grandmother lived in the Willala area and how regional Australia and places like Boggabri are coping well with COVID-19 and prior to that the drought. He said that some of our city cousins are looking at us as a place of opportunity and he was impressed with the improvements in Boggabri each time he visits.

Mayor Ron Campbell welcomed everyone and said: “Boggabri has shown resilience during the drought and the pandemic and on the drive to Boggabri this morning I was talking to deputy mayor Cameron Staines about a few minor hiccups that we were dealing with and Cameron said, ‘Don’t worry about Boggabri today, they always put on a good show and they will have it together,’ and he was right.”

The Australia Day ambassador, John Harper, won the crowd with his laidback, frank, humorous banter.

He told the crowd that he was embarrassed to be standing out the front after listening to the young primary school students speaking about what Australia Day means to them.

Mr Harper said it was our job to be mentoring these young people and to take a look at the people beside us and think about the great job they are doing in the community.

He singled out Roger for his cooking of barbecues, David for his walking around town and calling in for the breakfast and Julie for dropping everything yesterday when a fire notice came in.

He said these are the types of people who make up the community.

Mr Harper is convinced that ultimately everyone wants to be happy and enjoy their life. Mateship, family, and community are paramount in achieving this goal and we should enjoy the good times and care about individuals in the bad.

“What I really want is to be a good husband and partner to my wife Michelle, a good father to my children and be a positive influence in the community,” he said.

Tom Watt from Boggabri Sacred Heart School started his speech with, ‘G’day true blue Aussie mates.

Tom went on to say, “Today, is Australia Day, a day when we celebrate our land and our people. I reckon both are pretty awesome. “

“I have been lucky enough to see a lot of this great country.

“My family loves exploring Australia, with its varied and magnificent forests, deserts, mountain ranges, plains, rivers, and oceans.

“I have recently come back from Tasmania and it was great, apart from being a bit cold.

“Twenty per cent of Tassie has been declared a World Heritage Wilderness Site and the trees are old and very tall. Also, its coastline is beautiful, with huge cliffs and beaches.

“I have loved seeing the Great Barrier Reef and rainforests of Queensland and the desert landscape of the Northern Territory, especially Uluru.

“WA is the only state I haven’t been to. We have a ripper of a country and I can’t wait to see more.

“But no matter where I have been, it is always nice to come back home to Boggabri, with its beautiful rich farming country, but most of all the friendly people.

“It’s the people that truly make Australia the best country.

“From the Aboriginals who have been here for 40,000 years to today’s current population, which is made up of people from all over the world.

“We are a diverse and great group of people and for our size we smash it on the world stage in sport and cultural activities.

“On Australia Day we celebrate the land and the people of Australia and for me personally this means coming to Australia Day celebrations here in Boggabri.

“They are usually at the pool, with the speeches followed by the ‘Dash for Cash and Iron Man events’ I have always loved this, as it is a fun way to make some money.

“Of course, it wouldn’t be Australia Day without eating a snag off the barbie. So whatever Australia Day means to you, I hope you realise how lucky we are to live in this great country.”

Hallie Thompson is also from Boggabri Sacred Heart School and she said: “Australia is a big, beautiful country which has an amazing outback. With wide open spaces which allows me to ride my horse, to be able to see the wildlife and enjoy the fresh air.

“I love being able to attend pony camp where we learn about troop lines, sections, half sections and single file.

Most of all I love making friends and enjoy my time riding with them as we learn all about the different horse disciplines.

“What I find special at the end of each day and at the end of camp, is being able to face the west and listening to the Last Post being played. Remembering all the people who sadly lost their lives to give us what we have today.

“This is one thing I find very special about living in Australia and being lucky enough to attend pony camp.

“Polo is another thing I love about being in Australia. We travel to many different places and meet lots of different people both on and off the field.

“At the end of the day, we all sit around the campfire talking about the day’s games and wait for Dad’s fabulous and yummy lamb roast to be cooked in the camp oven. Once it is all done, I enjoy roasting marshmallows while yarning with my team-mates.

“Many people will have different views on what makes Australia the luckiest country in the world. I love that I live in the luckiest place in Australia right here in Boggabri where I can ride my horse, play polo and go to a pony camp, happy Australia Day.”

Eleven-year-old Eve Greatrix attends Boggabri Public School and in her speech, she said: “First I would like to acknowledge and thank the first custodians of our beautiful and wealthy land.

“I was asked to write a speech about what Australia Day means to me. That’s a pretty big question but I’ll try my best to answer.

“I believe I am blessed. We are all blessed to call Australia our home. Not only is our country amazingly stunning with our native wildlife, waterways, oceans, and vegetation so is the diversity of our people in so many different ways.

“Embracing our differences and respecting one another is who we are. An Australian is someone who loves this country, appreciates what our land has to offer.

“An Australian cherishes the beauty of our country, the beauty of our people and the endless opportunities we are blessed to have.

“Australia Day is a day to celebrate all these things and so much more.

“And as the song states, I am, You are, We are all Australian – So let us all celebrate today, Australia Day, January 26, 2021, as one.”

In closing Craig Devine presented Mr Harper, Mr Coulton, and Mr Campbell with a special gift bag filled with unique Boggabri and district items.

The tractor shed members had some tractors on display and prior to taking them back to the shed the VIPs and their wives were treated to a trip around Boggabri.

The tractor shed and the museum were open for inspection and the pool opened at 12 noon for an afternoon of fun.

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