Everyone wants to be at the Rhododendron Festival. It has been our day on display for such a long time. This gorgeous local was trying to escape through a picket fence in Park Avenue.
I was looking forward to seeing my friend Larraine Home in the parade this year. A born and bred ‘Blackheathen’, her first two attendances at the festival were in the early fifties. On both occasions she spent the day wandering about with her Dad, in tears because her older sisters were dressed up and riding on the Wattle Café float. Well, she certainly made up for it, because she was crowned Queen in 1962. Just look at that spectacular float. Larraine was very young and had to stand on a box! I’m afraid ‘elf n’ safety ‘ does not allow such things these days.
And here we are 50+ years on! Hey, there’s something familiar about that dress! How time consuming it must be to make all those blooms. You are still Queen in my eyes, Larraine. Congratulations.
The giant rhododendrons in Soldiers’ Memorial Park, always put on wonderful show. Larraine would have blended in perfectly.
My associate Editor Des begged me to let him ride his bike in the parade, and went to so much trouble to decorate it….. I could hardly say no.
Unfortunately he was ineligible to take part, as he was judged to be too small. It was feared he might be mowed down by a fire engine or a vintage car.
Oh well, forget the parade – a lemonade stall might be the go;
I had to warn the poor fellow there would be some competition, because young Luke and Fergus run a very professional stall in the park. Des decided it mght be easier being a customer.
Back to the parade. All the village community groups take part. And it’s a chance for a little protest march if you feel strongly about something. We upper mountains people like to have our say.
The Lithgow Highland Pipe Band band is a great favourite at the festival, with its members marching in the parade and then performing under the great oak tree in the gadens.
At the back of Gardners Inn there are coal shoveling and roof bolting competitions, a unique legacy of the region’s industrial past.
Time for another lemonade on the way home. Already some of the rhododendron blossoms are falling, creating soft carpets for weary souls to sit on.
The final word should go to Larraine’s husband Clive. His decorated barrow carried the message….PLANT MORE RHODODENDRONS!
Of course, some residents like to kick on at the Blackheath Bar and Bistro. They created a special Rhododendron Margarita. Looks good eh?