While much around it burned to ashes, the Bobin School of Arts Hall miraculously survived the devastating bushfires of November 2019.
The Bobin community, out in force at the special town event, heard their hall “speak” about what they had all experienced together. Written by Suzanne and voiced by Lisa, this is what the Bobin School of Arts Hall had to say.
"We have something exciting happening on my stage tonight. Something special that I’m going to share with you. I’m so excited that a little, elderly, School of the Arts Hall like me is hosting this event. Especially after all we’ve been through....
Endangered Productions is coming bush to perform its version of Bach’s Coffee Cantata and favourites from Peer Gynt. It will be a musical feast of unexpected pleasures - and I get to strut my stuff in my new lustrous silver Priscilla boots. What was that donor thinking? But it did make me smile – a nice change from yet another box of baked beans.
Many of you may be wondering how did an isolated weatherboard arts hall get this honour? Well perhaps I need to share with you some of my story.
I was created in Bobin, a small town in the mid north of NSW over 99 years ago. I have seen a lot of people come and go. I know everyone of our 100 residents. However, the fires nearly annihilated me. They lapped at my doorsteps, hungry for my ancient woods. Three courageous fire fighters fought to save me. Bit by bit they beat down the flames, with their hoses and their bodies, until the fire storm passed, and dripping tears of dirty water I remained whole.
The fires really hurt my community, but thankfully no one died. We lost 18 homes out of the nearly 50 we had in the town, and almost everyone had some damage. The fires also made me more important to my people. Before the fires only 30 people would come to my monthly events, but the fires changed everything. Now there are 60 plus people at our monthly meetings. People also came to visit me to find information, bring supplies and most of all find togetherness. As I cocooned them from the outside world, I heard them sharing their stories of loss and grief, but also saw the beginning of their healing.
People spoke about sheltering in the rivers with their frightened dogs and having to watch the historic home they painstakingly restored, being guttered by flames. They grieved the enormous loss of wildlife, like the wallabies that would never quietly eat in their yards, or the beautiful diamond pythons that would never again caress their trees. I saw the generosity of outsiders, in their giving and providing to our community. I saw my people organize massive working bees and watched their efforts to rebuild, despite COVID and the recent floods holding things back. However, I also heard the physical exhaustion in their voices as they tried to do this. But, most of all, I saw my people’s resilience and their pride in community and togetherness shine through.
I have people looking after me too. The passionate hall Committee members, Peter, Kim, Mark, and the others. They are trying to make sure I can keep helping the town, by giving everyone a place to socialise or find help. They do this by getting grants and raising money by letting me have functions. Peter is such a master of the degustation menu.
I heard Endangered Productions chose me, as they heard about what we went through and wanted to bring some joy and laughter back to my people’s hearts. I am excited about this and hope you are too.
Perhaps the words of playwright George Bernard Shaw speak best of how I feel about helping my community. "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live."
Thank you Endangered Productions, for helping me do this."