Batlow is home to what has got to be one of the nicest traditions in Australia: Pioneers Night.
Held last Tuesday – and for 73 years before that – the RSL Club celebrates the town’s elders with speeches, music, and food.
‘Pioneers’ are those over 65 who were either born in Batlow, or who have lived there for more than 40 years, and they travel from all over the country for the occasion.
Batlow resident Jane Myers said she isn’t surprised people want to stay connected to the apple town.
“It’s still a very close-knit community, everybody knows everybody, and they look after their own,” she said.
“That’s what I’ve noticed here, they take care of each other. Even the little ones are still involved, which I think is great! You don’t see that very often anymore. Plus it’s beautiful, it’s a hidden gem. I bumped into Batlow and then never left – and I’m here to stay.”
Sally Butler, whose family has strong roots in the Batlow area, gave the toast to the Pioneers, while Pioneer Colin Foster drew laughs with his relatable memories of growing up in a very different Batlow – when there used to a horse strung up in the schoolyard waiting to be rode home at the end of the day.
Entertainment was provided by St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, who were delightful in their renditions of three well-rehearsed songs, and country singer Bob Graham.
Dick Sedgwick also read several poems for the full RSL Hall, along with the list of departed.
For Susan Keenan, it was another memorable Pioneers Night, one of many.
“I’m a great-grandmother now, and I remember taking my children to the Pioneers Night,” she said.
“They were the age where their school put on a little display and they sang…so that’s a long time ago! It’s really nice, people come back that grew up here and they all know each other.
“I grew up in Sydney, and I came down here after I got married. I found it very difficult at first, because coming to a small country town where everybody knew everybody and they’d all grown up together – it took a while to get used to it.
“But now I wouldn’t go back to the city! Batlow’s a lovely place.”