A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

Sunday 2 May 2004

Why are there always photos of kids climbing on pumpkins? It's because that's what kids like to do. Big pumpkins are kid magnets. True.
The Collector Pumpkin Festival

This year I made it to the second Collector Pumpkin Festival. I'd missed last year's but heard it was a big success. This year I slipped away from our house guests, promising to return for a late lunch with some food in hand, and headed down the Federal Highway towards Goulburn to the small town of Collector just 25 minutes from Bungendore.

I wrote about one of our visits to Collector's Lynwood Caf in a Diary entry here and we've been back with friends a few times. Collector is bypassed by the dual carriageway highway that skirts Lake George on its western edge. The bypass is a touch ironic because Collector grew as a town as a result of the mining traffic passing between Sydney and Kiandra in the mid 1800's. They used to stop and change bullocks and horses there.

"By 1847 Collector boasted an inn, store, three hotels, several blacksmiths and a tailor. The village was illuminated by evil smelling oil lamps in 1850; a wind powered (flour) mill operated in 1859."

There's a short history of the town on the Collector Public School website.

 On Sunday however the crowds poured out of Canberra and headed to the centre of Collector. The main road that leads past the hall, churches and police station was closed to vehicles and filled with people rugged against a cold wind. When the sun was out it was  bearable and while a few people passed me heading home saying it was too cold, there were mostly smiles.

I'm reading Carol Field's book Celebrating Italy and loving it, wanting to go back to my images taken on my visit to Umbria so long ago, of places like Gubbio with its crossbow festival and add the local knowledge that Carol Field reveals. I'm sure the book has a similar effect on anyone who envies the ritual and festivals that every small town seems to have. And the food that is a big part of it. I even thought of making up a fictitious calendar of events for Bungendore, (maybe I should do it so forget that). Thinking about what we have as local traditions I got as far as the Anzac Day pub crawl march, the star-picket driving competition at the Show , the dunny race on Bungendore day and that was about it.

I was interested to hear then that it was just that motivation after working in Italy and enjoying the festivals that lead Collector resident James McKay and his wife Kate (Kate is the daughter of Robbie Howard who with her husband Alan own Lynwood Caf), to start the Pumpkin Festival. The whole town appears to have embraced the idea, and it is different enough to appeal to some out of town food and craft people to travel to take part. I've made the usual pop-up window of some  photographs of the day here, and you'll see that it still has a small town feel even with accomplished food participants such as Kingston's Silo Bakery taking part.

I wanted to share just one more image and tell you about it here, something that made me feel good about the day. Below is the small  St. Bartholomew's Catholic church interior, a simple, beautifully proportioned room that glowed in the late autumn sunlight. It was lined with notice boards covered in historical newspaper clippings, with  photocopies of documents and a complete list of names from the area of those buried in the Collector cemetery.

I didn't find out who organized and set this up, but I could have spent hours just reading the local history displayed there, and in a building erected in 1851, it gave a strong sense of the town's past to go along with the fun and the food.

Let's start some more traditions like this one.

There is more about the food and producers at the Collector Pumpkin Festival on the Regional Food website.

The Collector school was suitably decorated...

...as was this entry in the Best Decorated Fence competition that had a row of pumpkins with faces and hats, and slamming wildly above them in the wind, all the orange balloons in the ACT. 

The Lynwood Cafe used a row of smaller pumpkins to stop the roof iron flapping in the breeze.

Celebrating Italy by Carol Field Published by Harper Collins/Harper Perennial. There's  excerpt of recipes from it here on their website. But it doesn't have any of why I love it, the history, religion  and mythology. This review on Amazon.com has some feel for it.

I'm not sure how traditional helicopter rides will become, but for $50 you got to see how dry Lake George is, from the air.

Pumpkin races will be. A time trial over a winding bumpy course.

A sample of the historical information about a famous early Collector resident. Did you know Sir Terence introduced Murray cod into the local rivers?

  Fred Harden 2003-2004 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu

Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden