Black Springs looks back as it gets ready for heritage festival

HISTORY: Michael Hanrahan, who died in 1910 aged 86 and is buried at Black Springs, pictured with his daughter Julia. Black Springs' history will be celebrated at the Black Springs Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 26 from 10am to 4pm.
HISTORY: Michael Hanrahan, who died in 1910 aged 86 and is buried at Black Springs, pictured with his daughter Julia. Black Springs' history will be celebrated at the Black Springs Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 26 from 10am to 4pm.

THE Black Springs Community Association will hold a Black Springs Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 26 from 10am to 4pm.

The day will include tours of local churches and cemeteries.

There will also be a display of historical photographs.

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Below is a story which appeared in the Black Springs Gymkhana program of events in 1960.

It details how the Black Springs Progress Association was formed.

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TODAY the committee of the Black Springs Progress Association extends to you a hearty welcome to the 4th Annual Gymkhana.

Behind the scene of gaiety which you see around you lies a story of hard work, heartbreak and, temporising a little, stomach.

The gymkhana actually had its beginning as far back as 1956, two years before the first gymkhana was run.

The idea to run a gymkhana arose from general conversation among a few citizens bemoaning the lack of social and sporting events in the district.

One of those citizens was Harry Chapman, who together with Ray Pepper decided to call a public meeting with the object in view of forming a Black Springs for the Oberon Committee.

The outcome was tragic - two people turned up and the meeting was abandoned.

Disprited but not deterred, the following year, Harry and Ray decided to try for support from various people in Oberon to run a gymkhana at Black Springs for the Oberon District Hospital.

Again the scheme was doomed a failure.

By this time, however, there were four schools in the Black Springs area, badly lacking funds to provide sporting equipment and various necessary teaching aids.

With a few other citizens becoming interested in the idea it was decided to call another public meeting to try to run a gymkhana and donate the proceeds of it to the P and C Associations of these small schools.

Pessimists were plenty and criticism, no doubt some very constructive, was readily available.

However, undeterred, and with a limited amount of promised support, the meeting was called.

Messers Harry Chapman, Harry O'Keefe, Max Hanrahan, M Gibbons, Ray Pepper and Malcolm Arnold in all were present. Many, however, who were willing to help take positions on the committee sent their apologies and the following committee was formed:

President John Dougherty, secretary Harry Chapman, treasurer Bill Bailey, vice president Max Hanrahan, publicity officer Harry O'Keefe and assistant and nomination secretary Malcolm Arnold.

With hard work and perseverance, the committee, with its ever-increasing supporters, tackled the task of preparing the area granted for the first Black Springs gymkhana in 1958.

With support from Oberon Shire Council, Bruce Turner, Will Kater, Lance Armstrong, by the way of machinery and equipment, and the many stout-hearted citizens who responded to bee days, the task was accomplished.

On the day of the gymkhana, 30 volunteers manned stalls and control points to see the day an outstanding success.

The effort by these people and members of the various small school P and C associations cannot be too highly praised.

Although there were many who were pessimistic, regarding the chances of gaining sufficient competitors, 30 horse competed in events.

Those who witnessed the gymkhana, the number of horses competing, the prizes awarded, which would indeed do credit to many far bigger centres than this, will surely agree that the efforts of the stalwarts of the first and subsequent gymkhana, Harry Chapman, Malcolm Arnold, Leo Cosgrove, Norm Quin, Max Hanrahan, Max Gerber, Harry O'Keefe, John Dougherty, the womenfolk who played their part, Mrs Quin, June Arnold, Rita Hanrahan, Poppy Cosgrove and the others who joined the wagon and rolled along, are deserving of a special mention.

Each small school received 43 pounds from the proceeds. The gross takings totalled 460 pounds - indeed, a worthy effort.

The following year, with many more people behind the experience gained, the second gymkhana proved bigger and better despite many setbacks. After being postponed through inclement weather, the gymkhana was finally held on Mr Ron McKean's property "Mt Bathurst".

Over 1000 persons attended to see the gross takings skyrocket to 661 pounds.

The gymkhana had come to stay.

Last year, with the gymkhana again held on the Recreation Ground, despite bad weather conditions, the event grossed 665 pounds. This year let's hope it is better.

When we look around us today, and see the happy atmosphere, the many events and attractions that make the day a success and an enjoyable social event, let us spare a thought to consider what a great benefit this day is to the community and let us continue to support it every year.

This year of course the Progress Association assumed control of the gymkhana, but the faces are still the same and the small schools still receive financial assistance from the proceeds.

Only three schools are left today - Black Springs, Daisy Bank and Felled Timber - and if you have the opportunity to visit any of these and see the amenities that have been provided from the gymkhana proceeds, there is no doubt you will say here is a job well done.

To everyone here today, spectators, competitors, tour advertisers and donors and to Mr Ron McKeon, who generously provided this area of his property for the day, to the Oberon and district ambulance, the district police, the school's P and C committee, and the many people who loaned equipment to enable the gymkhana to be conducted, we sincerely thank you.

Let's see you at the dance tonight and, of course, again here at Mt Bathurst for the 5th annual gymkhana next year.

| To be continued next week