Along the Fossickers Way to Bingara

A request had been made for the Northern Sydney Men of League Foundation Welfare team to visit Billy Dixon at Royal North Shore Hospital. Billy had been involved in a road train accident in Darwin. We were confronted by a severely burnt Billy Dixon. Even with his severe injuries Billy still had a positive outlook and a sense of humour.

At the time of the visit  we also met Billy’s family, his sister Bev, Mum Marilyn and Dad Graham and also a long time family friend who resides in Sydney Richard Reading. From time to time we checked on Billy with further visits including visits to the burns unit at Ryde. Billy was seen to be making good progress and we promised that when he was well enough we would take him out for the day. We visited the NRL Museum and afterwoods took him to the Erskineville Bowling Club for a bit of Chinese.

An invitation was issued to the committee by Graham Dixon, ( Billys Father and Club President) to visit Billy for his homecoming to Bingara – a former gold mining town on the Fossickers Way just short of Warialda, the home town of famed pig hunters Noel Cleal and family. Unfortunately Ken Vessey and Fred Jackson were unable to attend due to long standing commitments so Bill Hamilton, a Manly, Norths and Australian player volunteered to attend along with our wives Fay and Dianne.

We undertook the trip starting at Hawks Nest at 7a.m. for the six hour drive up the New England Highway and along the Fossickers Way to Bingara, population 1300. On arrival at Bingara Oval we were greeted at the gate and permitted free entry to the game.

We adjourned to the bar area where we were introduced to numerous local identities including Billy’s sister Bev, working behind the bar and his Mum Marilyn busy working the canteen (coffee $1.00). We were told that the planned Old Boys Game was cancelled mainly due to pulled hamstrings, crook backs and dodgy knees.

The Bingara Rugby League Club had not been travelling too well and the back to Bingara Day had been organised to rekindle the passion. The Bingara Bullets and Quirindi took the field with a guard of honour of about 50 former players from Bingara and thunderous applause from the crowd.

The game was a highly contested affair with plenty of ball movement, hard running and big hits with Bingara winning the game 44 to 32 before festivities began. The team and ex players sang their club song before moving on to the Sporties Club. The function was attended by 150 plus people, a mixed crowd of all ages and there were plenty of smiling faces. Bingara is on the way back.

On Sunday we had a look around town and admired many old buildings and the fruitful orange tree lined streets. The oranges are picked by the school children on Friday 1st July the last day of school term, this is then followed by an orange and Greek Festival on the weekend which includes a Greek Feast along the main street of town. We also attended the Sunday Raffles and Bingo at the RSL where we met the club Secretary, formerly from Palm Beach and still a strong Manly supporter. His office is adorned with signs and posters of the Sea Eagles and is commonly known as the Eagles Nest. We purchased raffle tickets and bingo cards obviously reserved for city slickers (marked A. Skinner).

If you are passing through Bingara, Graham Dixon (Billys Dad) can be found at the Bingara RSL most days and is always up for a chat and a beer. Thanks for the memories Bingara.

Norm Pounder. 

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