STORIES

Each of the villages of the Region have their own unique history, charm, attractions and stories, but it is the people that make up the fabric of these places. The characters and legends are woven into the tapestry and flavour of the communities. From the tales of those gone by in history, to those on the committees or producing the food and attractions today, there is no doubt the area has produced more than its fair share of champions.

Local Characters and Legends

Christine Weston

Founder "Animals on Bikes" Sculpture Trail & Rent A Farmhouse for $1/Week Scheme, Cumnock Farm Mum & Direct Marketing International Sales Expert.

 

When Christine Weston saw the devastating impacts of drought on the schools, community, industry and morale of Cumnock, she couldn’t stand by and watch the region crumble. Like many country women, she put her ample ingenuity and skills together to come up with sustainable, viable action plans to reinvigorate the region. The Rent a Farmhouse for $1/Week Scheme was implemented first to stem the population drift and the mass closing down of local small schools in the area. The population was revived enough to save the local Cumnock School and Christine still has 16,000 people on her database ten years on who are interested in making a tree change from the city to the area. The move inspired many other small rural communities to adopt similar schemes. Christine went on to mobilized her forces towards strengthening the largely rural reliant industry with a tourism boost through the development of the “Animals on Bikes” Sculpture Trail in 2008. With local farmers, Schools and Show Societies on-board, there are now 111 sculptures scattering the landscape on the 120km drive from Molong to the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. What began as a visual fantasy for children and an attraction for all tourists, became a living, ever-growing morale boosting focal point for the community who overwhelmingly adopted project.

A.B "Banjo" Patterson

A former Yeoval local who became an Australian Icon. Best known as a Poet, Writer & Journalist, also a Lawyer, a War Correspondent and Farmer, who fought in the First World War.

 

Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, was born on 17 February 1864 near Orange. He went on to grow up on a property near Yeoval, 'Buckinbah Station', where he gathered many of his early memories of bush life that he would go on to immortalise in verse. Some of 'Banjo's' more notable poems include "Waltzing Matilda", "The Man from Snowy River", "Clancy of the Overflow" and “Mulga Bill’s Bicycle”.  Banjo’s poem "First Impressions" tells of his memories growing up in the western area of NSW. Banjo's achievements have been celebrated in Yeoval over the years with the Banjo Paterson Bush Park, the Poet's Walk, and the iconic Yeoval Mulga Bill Bicycle Festivalheld in July each year. The festival celebrates Banjo Paterson's childhood in Yeoval with a bike ride from Cumnock to Yeoval, street stalls, art shows, demonstrations and live music.

Bill Schmich

‘Ophir Bill’, Local Fossicking Expert & Legend

 

They say fossicking is in the blood and that is definitely true for local expert and legend ‘Ophir Bill’ Schmich. The Schmich family tree extends back to the 1850s when Bill Schmich's great grandparents left Germany and followed the dream of massive gold finds in the antipodes. Bill began searching for gold, in and around Ophir, as a five-year-old in 1946 and he has been in love with the area ever since. He held a claim to mine for many years immersing himself in Ophir and extending his passion to old coins, cutlery and other historic paraphernalia. There is not a part of Ophir that he isn’t familiar with. Part of the very fabric of the area, Bill used his extensive knowledge leading tours and assisting the development of events celebrating the gold rush era in Ophir.

Charlie Svenson

Master Fisherman, Research Scientist

& Winemaker at Nashdale’s De Salis Wines

 

A long and winding road has brought Charlie Svenson to vineyard ownership and wine production at De Salis Wines in Nashdale. His long held passion for food started at sea. As a master fisherman, he ran a lobster and barramundi boat in the Torres Strait, which also doubled as a floating store to the isolated populations in the region. Charlie’s career then turned to research science at UNSW before giving up his ‘day job’ to pursue his winemaking passions with Canobolas Smith. After moving to Orange and a stint at Charles Sturt University, Charlie purchased ‘Lofty Vineyard’ on the slopes of Mount Canobolas in 2009 and he now produce wine from the highest altitude vineyard in the region. Charlie’s philosophy to wine is aligned to a chef’s philosophy to food - choosing the best produce in season and artistically developing the flavour, enhancing but not changing its uniqueness and regionality.

James Sweetapple

Cargo Road Wines Winemaker, President of the F.O.O.D Week Association, FORAGE Founder & Holistic Land Manager

 

James Sweetapple has been a busy man since moving to the region more than 20 years ago. Originally a city boy, James is now a local through and through. Not only is he a winemaker from Cargo Road Wines, he is the President of the F.O.O.D Week Association, and the brains behind the FORAGE event that is held during Orange F.O.O.D Week each year. James’ property not only grows wine grapes, but also figs, cherries, lamb and honey. An advocate for holistic land management, James’ love of the region and sustainable production philosophies delve deeper than his soil.

Merle Parrish

Cudal’s MasterChef Television Sensation, Bestselling Author & Country Women’s Association Representative

 

Merle Parrish has been competing from the age of seven in state cookery competitions, and became a judge herself in 1988 when she completed her CWA Judges' Certificate. She has won just about every prize in every category in the competitive baking world and went on to became a local television sensation on Network Ten’s MasterChef. Her culinary skills and country ways saw her capture the hearts of viewers. On the back of her television success, Merle released a bestseller cookbook ‘Merle's Kitchen’ and followed up with ‘Merle's Country Show Baking: and Other Favourites’. Merle still lives in Cudal and continues cooking for pleasure and in show competitions.

Joan Stevenson

Manildra’s Trash-to-Treasure Historian, Amusu Theatre & Museum

 

A desire to preserve history has been the driver behind Manildra’s Trash-to-Treasure Historian, Joan Stevenson. Some of Joan’s most prized pieces have been sourced from the local rubbish tip. Joan displays her finds as part of the Amusu Theatre and adjoining museum. The museum is in an old shed which is jam-packed with an eclectic range of items. It all started with movie memorabilia, but has expanded into any item that tells a story, ranging from gramophones to autograph books; a stuffed quoll to vintage magazines. While Joan doesn’t make a habit of trolling through the garbage – workers let her know if anything of historical value is unearthed like suitcases full of exquisitely embroidered linen and photo albums bound in leather full of old photos.

Yuranigh

Aboriginal Guide to Explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell – Integral to Inland Exploration

 

Yuranigh, a Wiradjuri, became a guide to Major Thomas Mitchell on his expedition to central Queensland, which started in December 1845. He soon became an integral and indispensable “guide, companion, counsellor and friend” to the Explorer. When he died in about April 1850 in Molong, local Aborigines erected carved trees at each corner of the grave as a mark of respect. Mitchell arranged for the grave to be fenced at government expense and later paid for an inscribed headstone

Margaret Wallington

Wallington Wines Canowindra, Organic Producer & Founding President of Canowindra@home

 

Laying the foundations for sustainable local food production, and sharing her enthusiasm for the region is high on the agenda for Margaret Wallington. Margaret moved to Canowindra in January 1990 with her husband Dr Anthony Wallington. In a lifelong dream of Anthony’s, they purchased a farm and establish a vineyard. When she wasn’t raising her children and farming, Margaret became the founding President of Canowindra@home (1999) and helped establish the famous Canowindra@home 100 Mile Dinners. Margaret’s love of the region and enthusiasm for the continued growth and development of Canowindra have been embraced by the community. She sees the future for the region as becoming a well-known area for organic produce. In the meantime, she will continue producing her own organic wines, olives for oil, cattle and sheep, and tinkering with pistachios.

Jodie Greenhalgh

Founder & Designer Eugowra’s Most Wanted Murals & Mural Weekend

 

Tired of watching the tourist buses pass by her home town without even so much as a wave of acknowledgement, Eugowra business owner and young Mum, Jodie Greenhalgh decided to put her town on the map in 2011. A graphic designer by trade, Jodie did what she knew best and created a spectacular collection of colonial wall art - "The Most Wanted Murals". The murals depict several legendary scenes from the town’s bushranger past and are a larger than life testament to Jodie’s design and organisation skills, determination, and her ability to tap into the community spirit which Eugowra is renowned for. Tourists definitely make that stop now to admire the skills of the artists and the stories of the town. They also come along for the annual event held at the end of April, Eugowra’s Most Wanted Mural Weekend, which features painting by mural artists, markets and a car show. Jodie is also the energy behind other popular events and attractions including the Eugowra Harness and Racing Club’s highly popular ‘Canola Cup

Marty Oliver

Borenore Brewhouse Founder

 

Not that long ago the foodie tours of the region were strictly for wine-lovers. An exciting new culture is emerging with the development of a range of other hand-crafted beverages. For Borenore’s Marty Oliver, following his passion for good quality beer has paid off. An IT specialist, Marty has drawn on his engineering and electrical skills to develop his own brewery – Borenore Brewhouse. Marty is known for his out-of-the-box thinking and innovative approach. Since opening in 2014, Borenore has released beers that range from a pale ale and wheat beer through to Belgian Abbey style ale and a Baltic Chocolate Porter. Marty has also introduced the concept of “day-fresh-beer” to the local markets via a stainless steel swap and go “Growler” offering a straight from the brewery experience to takeaway. Linking up with other like-minded businesses, Marty feels the region is fast building a reputation as a crafted beer destination. A strong presence at food events such as Orange F.O.O.D Week, Wine Week, Slow Food, 100 Mile Dinner and the highly popular new Crafted LIVE is helping to put the area and the industry on the map.