A convoy of tired but happy caravanners, motorhome owners, travellers and day visitors from all over Australia packed up and pulled out from the very successful 2024 Drovers’ Campfire.

There were a lot of first timers like Gary Williams and Mick Allen who had driven for 12 hours from Queensland to get to Boggabri.

They said they could have done it a bit quicker but they pulled up and had a look at a couple things on the way but they did do 12 hours behind the wheel.

When asked: “was the 12-hour drive worth it?” A resounding “hell yes” was the reply.

The weather was kind. Beautiful autumn days allowed attendees to attend the bus tours, market day and entertainment in comfort.

Most people used the cool nights to sit around the campfire yarning and catching up with old and new friends or enjoying the music of Sam Snape and the Crosby Sisters.

The opening evening was a little different this year with Ellen McClung as MC.

Narrabri Shire mayor Darrell Tiemens gave the acknowledgement of country and welcomed everyone to the Narrabri Shire and thanked everyone for coming to the Drovers’ Campfire.

Young people who attend Ooranga Family Mobile Resource Unit Pre-school and Nurruby Early Learning Centre gave a cultural awareness welcome followed by the students from Boggabri Public School and the

Boggabri Sacred Heart School singing the national anthem.

Richard Gillham thanked the volunteers for their tireless work across many months setting up and for their commitment to event.

Special mention went to his mum who has been with the group for the past 18 years and this year she has been overseeing the grandchildren and great-grandchild as well as other little ones belonging to the volunteers.

“I’d say that there have been 20 kids under the age of eight running around here during the week that belong to the volunteers.

“Some have asked their mum or mother-in-law to come and baby sit while they are working, it really is a family business but you don’t have to be a member of our family to be involved.

“We had a couple of kids, six and an eight-year-old holding the tape while we were marking out the sites,” he said.

He went on to say: “After 18 years, have we got it right?

“I don’t know, I think we can do a bit better so hopefully we will be going for a few more years yet”.

Deputy manager of Idemitsu, Stewart Dunlop told the crowd that they were very proud as a company to be supporting the campfire with a grant of $40,000 for a two-year period.

He finished his speech with: “Have a good night and don’t forget to re-book for next year.”

When Craig ‘Macca’ McGowan was introduced to the crowd he said that it was the first time he had attended and could absolutely say that the travellers and volunteers here are one big family.

“Boggabri is a little ripper of a community; it is diverse and have you looked inside your show bags?

“What is the most amazing thing in there? I will tell you what, a pink slug”.

Mary O’Brien gave a very informative presentation about her charity, ‘Are you Bogged Mate?’ Mary is a Rural Men’s Mental Health Advocate.

Many people also took the opportunity to tick off some bucket list adventures over the weekend.

One person was Neil Kemmis.

His daughter Leonie Wilcox accompanied the 98-year-old on his first helicopter ride.

98-year-old Neil Kemmis went for his first helicopter ride.

Many others, both local and visitors had a birds-eye-view of our beautiful community as they soared above the town and surrounds.

One happy little camper was Annie Snape, she celebrated her fourth birthday at Drovers and had a yummy cake with pink icing.

A lovely gesture by a group of campers was on Saturday morning when the ladies walked around the market stalls looking what was available.

They settled on cupcakes from the Sacred Heart School coffee van.

Not only did they settle on the cupcakes they bought the whole lot, $95 worth.

When asked if they were sure that they wanted all of them the reply was: “Yes, we pooled our resources and we have $100 to spend and we wanted to spend it on something that would benefit an organisation in Boggabri and we get these beautiful cakes in return.

Walter, Ashley and Glennie Scott (Gunnedah).

“We are very happy to support the school.”

Many friendships were renewed such as Margaret Crisp (nee Cassidy) caught up with her primary school teacher, Frank McDonald.

Mr McDonald came to teach at Berrioye School in 1958, 1959 and 1960. Mr McDonald said when he received the transfer he was teaching in Sydney and it took from 9-11am to find out where Berrioye School was and he caught the train to Boggabri where he was picked up and driven out to his new school.

The billy boiling competition was a huge success and a lot of fun for both the participants and the spectators.

Some competitors didn’t realise that you are only allowed 20 matches, one block of wood, machete, an empty beer carton that can be used as a fan, but definitely not to be burnt, and a billy can of water.

Cheering and cheating were on the cards, as father was pitted against son, husband against wife, friend against friend and siblings against each other.

The final produced some frantic chopping of kindling and waving of beer cartons and hats as the fire took hold.

Steve Wicks narrowly defeated Sam Snape in the final with a time of five minutes 14 seconds against Sam with five minutes and 16 seconds.

Daniel Wicks entertained the crowd with his skill as a whip cracker.

Daniel is the 18 times Australian champion and three times world champion.

A competition was also held for the under 10, under 16 and open which produced some ear-piercing cracks.

The antique machinery drew a large crowd on Saturday to both the static display and the parade of vehicles.

David Clark leading the antique machinery parade.

The Boggabri RSL Fishing Club took a group of people out fishing on Saturday morning with reports of three good yellow belly fish and lots of carp being caught as well as a lovely
morning tea on the banks of the river.

The final activity for the weekend was a trivia evening on Sunday.

A great way to finish a fantastic weekend with lots of fun, laughter, interesting questions and very funny and interesting answers.

One redeeming factor was if you didn’t know an answer you could purchase a dot. By purchasing a ‘dot’ the team contributed to a pot of funds for the Boggabri Public School Parent and Citizens Association.

You still had to use your brain as a dot meant you had the correct answer for that question but you were only allowed three dots per round, and each round had 10 questions.

Boggabri community members, groups and organisations all benefitted from the campfire as they helped in running barbecues, coffee van, food vans, catering for morning teas, bingo, trivia, manning the gate on Saturday, market stalls, tours to sheep and cattle properties.

Coal mine tours and the many featured artists performing over the weekend.

Charmaine Berding said that there were 232 units on site.

“We had 200 booked in however another 20 came in off the road on Friday and another 12 or so Saturday”.

“Last year the shopper docket draw gave the organisers an idea of how much money was spent in the community.

“Not everyone receives a docket and not everyone puts the docket into the tub but when we added up the dockets handed in a massive $11,000 was spent by visitors over the weekend. The 2024 figure was $12,600.”

A few people have made Drovers’ Campfire their annual family and/or friends’ reunion.

Everyone you speak to sings the praises of the committee and their helpers with a large majority saying they will be back.

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