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submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 20.02.2014

Join us for the Grand Opening of the Bingara Roxy Greek Museum

by Her Excellency. Marie Bashir AC, Governor of New South Wales

Bingara is planning a great weekend


• Official opening ceremony
• Movies and other screenings at the Roxy
• Talks on Greek cafes and cinemas
• Gala dinner and dancing
• Greek dance band

Saturday & Sunday, 5th -6th April, 2014

Gala Dinner ticket $75.00
Roxy Theatre films and talks - Day ticket
Saturday $20 Day ticket Sunday $15
Weekend ticket (admission to everything including dinner and theatre attractions on both days) $100.00

Plenty of accommodation available near Bingara at Barraba, Warialda, lnverell and Moree

Further information: contact Bingara Visitor
Information Centre on 02 6724 0066

or visit

www.roxybingara.com.au/museum-opening

View / Download a .pdf colour brochure of this Invitation:

Roxy March Promo (2).pdf

Map showing the road to Bingara

Movie


Cecil B. DeMille's epic movie •Cleopatra• was released in 1934 and
shown at the Bingara Roxy in July 1936.
It will be shown again at the Bingara Roxy on Saturday 5 April 2014.
This 80 year old classic stars Claudette Colbert and features lavish sets and fabulous costumes and scenes that are best appreciated on the big screen.
The Cleopatra barge scene and the death of the Greek-Egyptian Queen are considered to be two of the most memorable sequences in DeMille's career.
'Cleopatra' was a box office success, garnered five Academy Award nominations and won the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Talks

• Dr Tony Risson author of 'Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill' on "The Greek Cafe in Queensland"

• Angelo Hatsatouris on "A Greek picture theatre family in Country NSW"

• Peter Prineas writer and Roxy Museum Curator on "The Allies Cafe - social hub in a NSW town"

For further information contact Bingara Visitor Information

02 6724 0066
www.roxybingara.com.au/museum

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 11.02.2014

Bob Carr's

Re-opening the Roxy and Peter’s Cafe: A Cinema in a Country Town
APRIL 12, 2011


Photograph: Former Premier of New South Wales with (then State member) Richard Torbay MP and John Wearne (Roxy Museum Committee) in Bingara's main street, Saturday night

When it comes to regional development – especially if it’s the smallest of country towns – sometimes the simplest approach works best. Bingara pop. 1,300 (on its best day – as a local quipped) is set in the foothills of New England, the gateway to the North West and the Queensland border, 600km North of Sydney. What’s it got going for it?

Its competitive advantage may be its Roxy Cinema, built in 1936 by three Greek partners, migrants from the island of Kythera. It is a striking Art Deco work, extravagant in fact, and belongs in any history of Australian cinema architecture or the Australian Art Deco style. To complete the extravagance these three Greek partners added a roomy café and a guest house, plus a first floor residence.

In 2004, as Premier I gave them $500,000 to restore the Roxy. After being sealed up for 40 years, it was opened up to be used by the town.

The advice I received was this would become a focus for community activity and bring some life into a one-street centre. It would also pay tribute to the history of Greeks in rural Australia. Beginning in the early 20th century they had introduced cafes, one for every town and hamlet. And 90 percent of the bush cinemas were established by Greeks.

Well, the Kytherians were there in strength on Saturday night for the celebration of the official opening of the restored cafe and the museum. The hosts were John Wearne, a retired farmer and veteran leader of local government in rural NSW, and his wife Wendy. John had pushed along the Roxy restoration and has built support for it and pursued the links with the state-wide Kytherian community.

There was Greek feasting and dancing and the ritual smashing of plates, the screening of a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, a talk by actor John Wood about the history of the Roxy. This is worthy of movie treatment itself. Consider that those daring Greek businessmen who invested in a cinema and a café with such extravagance were then driven out of business by a local competitor with his own screenings at a veteran’s club (incredible – two cinemas in this tiny country town) who cornered the better movies and advertised that his picture show was “100 percent Australian owned.” The Greeks were driven into receivership.

By the way, Bingara dispels the notion of infrastructure deprivation in the bush. Remember – a population of 1000. The hospital has recently had $12 and a new water treatment plant was built with $5 million. There is a new Commonwealth-funded age care hostel. The road to Narrabri has been recently sealed. I spoke to the school principal. The central school – kindergarten to year 12 – had new buildings as a result of the BER. The infrastructure is in fact terrific.

On Saturday I met locals, visiting Greeks from Sydney, former speaker Richard Torbay just triumphantly re-elected as independent member for Armidale. There was one farmer who had helped blockade me in Walgett airport in 1998 in a demonstration against my government’s policies protecting native vegetation. All history now. And I’m happy that the rain and high commodity prcies are looking after him.

I couldn’t visit that 1930s cinema without thinking of the youngsters who had been there watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers when it opened in 1936, only to be swept up a few years later by World War II, recruited for Tobruk or Singapore. Happy days at the flickering screen in Bingara would have seemed far distant life, a different planet.

bobcarrblog

Response by Noel Donohue:

April 12, 2011 11:27 am

This brings great memories of my growing up in the bush and spending some of my working life in country towns. These cinemas were usually family run affairs. They were the social centres as you say. I will never forget the commotion late comers caused at the theatre in Manilla, NSW, when people interrupted the movie with greetings in a loud voice , much to the annoyance of uninvolved patrons who wished to see the movie. On one occasion the projectionist went to sleep and so didn’t change the reel and the patrons sat in noisy, complaining darkness until they gave up and went home. In Goulburn as a kid I had the choice of two picture theatres, Hoyts and the Odeon. Matinees on Saturday afternoons would be interrupted by the sound of Jaffas being rolled down the sloping floor from front to back. I recall one evening performance of a Steel Rudd movie and an excited patron , there with his wife and kids from a small village outside Goulburn, constantly anticipated what the next scene would be in a loud excited voice to the amusement of the whole theatre.I recall the open air theatres in hot areas as far apart as Moree, NSW and Broome, Western Australia. The stories my father told me of visits to the theatre in Crookwell, NSW. On one occasion one of the locals had been an extra in the filming of Forty Thousand Horseman on the sand hills at Wanda Beach/Kurnell. He reserved the front row for his entire extended family and amused the audience by announcing his approach across the screen on horseback in a trumpeting voice—” Here I come Mum…There I go Mum “.In the village of Cooyal the local dance hall sometimes hosted travelling picture shows. I recall seeing Jekkyl and Hyde and having to ride my bike home alone in the middle of the night and being terrified by the call of a mopoke. Finally I recall going to a Sydney theatre to see The Picture Show Man with a dear friend of mine in 1977, whose father ran the picture theatre in Kilkivan in Queensland. At the end of the performance there was spontaneous applause from the audience. something I hadn’t witnessed before or since.

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 10.02.2014

NSW Governor to open the Roxy Greek Café Museum

The Bingara Advocate, Weds Feb 5th, 2014, Vol. 82. No. 3, page 1

The Bingara Roxy Greek Café Museum Committee is delighted to announce Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Marie Bashir AC CVO as the official guest to open the long awaited museum in Bingara on the weekend of 5 and 6 April 2014.

The Museum, which documents the history of Greek settlement in Australia with particular reference to their involvement in cafes throughout New South Wales and Queensland, will be open in style with a Gala open air dinner in the main street of Bingara. Bringing the glamour of the 1930’s back to Bingara, it will be an unforgettable evening of Greek feasting and festivity under the stars.

“Having Professor Marie Bashir open the museum is a real coup for the committee who have been planning the museum for the last three years” committee member Mr John Wearne said.

“Her attendance is definitely going to raise the profile of the project and hopefully bring the recognition that the museum deserves. Greek Australians have made a huge contribution to Australian society and have had a major influence on the development of many Australian industries such as the food and wine service, construction, real estate and tourism industries. It is important to document and celebrate the ways the Greeks have enriched our community and culture, as well as taking the time to remember when life was slower and people had time to enjoy a milkshake on a Saturday afternoon” said Mr Wearne.

Professor Bashir was the first woman to be appointed Governor of New South Wales and took up her office on 1 March 2001.

Born in Narrandera and educated at Narrandera Public School and Sydney Girls High School, Marie Bashir gained her bachelor degrees in medicine and surgery in 1956 from the University of Sydney.

Dr Bashir taught at the Universities of Sydney and New South Wales, increasingly working with children’s services, psychiatry and mental health services, and indigenous health programs.

At the time of her appointment as Governor of New South Wales, Dr Bashir was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney (a post she took up in 1993); Area Director of Mental Health Services Central Sydney (from 1994); and Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern (from 1996) and to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Kempsey.

Professor Bashir’s widespread involvements and interests have included juvenile justice, research on adolescent depression, health issues in developing countries, education for health professionals and telemedicine, and new technologies for health service delivery.

Along with many professional medical association roles, Dr Bashir was, at the time of her appointment as Governor, a member of societies as diverse as Amnesty International, the National Trust, the New South Wales Camellia Research Society and the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Centre, as well as being a patron of the Sydney Symphony and Opera Australia.

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988 for her services to child and adolescent health, and was invested by Her Majesty, the Queen with the insignia of a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 2006.

Professor Bashir will be accompanied by her husband, Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE. Sir Nicholas has also had an impressive career as the Lord Mayor of Sydney from 1973 to 1975, and a former national representative rugby union captain, making 30 career Test appearances. He is an inductee into both the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and the IRB Hall of Fame.

Download a .pdf version of this article here:

Bingara Advocte Weds Feb 5 2014 NSW Gov to open Roxy Museum.pdf

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by The Roxy Complex on 04.02.2014

Bingara’s Living Classroom

During the Roxy Museum Opening celebrations, 5th & 6th April, 2014, the Kytherian dance group will almost certainly stay in an accomodation facility at the Living Classroom Complex in Bingara NSW. This article explains what the living classroom is.

by Suzanne Kyte

Article Project credits
Community group VISION 2020 collaborates with John Mongard Landscape Architects onsite through a process running that has been running over six years.

John Mongard Landscape Architects worked with the northern NSW community of Bingara, to develop strategies for future-proofing their town that can be maintained by residents at little cost.

The township of Bingara lies in the heart of a district in the New South Wales Northern Tablelands, renowned for its natural beauty, livestock and crop production. But like many other rural towns, Bingara faces significant challenges on both global and local levels. In 2008, Gwydir Shire Council engaged John Mongard Landscape Architects (JMLA) to develop a strategy to guide the town’s future development. As part of this process, Bingara residents generated ideas that ranged from main-street improvements to a long-term sustainable agriculture project, and which were further developed through collaborative design processes led by JMLA.

The resulting Bingara Town Strategy outlines an integrated twenty-year framework for building a positive and sustainable future through a series of small and large-scale projects that will dramatically change the town’s approach to food, housing, work and energy planning. By building in opportunities for the community to review and refine options over time, it is hoped that the strategy will remain relevant and accommodate change in line with the vision for the town itself.

Community group VISION 2020 collaborates with John Mongard Landscape Architects onsite through a process running that has been running over six years.

Although many of the initial ideas for Bingara’s future were instigated by local community group Vision 2020, the participation of, and support from, the wider community has clarified local values and needs, contributed new ideas and helped to implement the strategy. As with many of JMLA’s public domain projects, the process began by inviting the community to “setup shop” in a vacant main-street shopfront, where community members could meet to discuss the town’s future. During the course of a week, locals called in to talk about their ideas and those of others, raise issues and brainstorm possible solutions. Visitors to the town contributed valuable insights about Bingara from a tourism perspective.

The town’s riverfront was collaboratively designed and built by the council, John Mongard Landscape Architects, the community and local farmers.

In addition to this, John Mongard and Jacqueline Ratcliffe from JMLA held public meetings and forums, met with local businesses and other interest groups, and held workshops with council staff and other stakeholders. Spending time in Bingara and using a range of consultation techniques helped the pair to learn first-hand about the town, its people and their values, experiences, needs, priorities and capacities. Existing studies about a town can provide valuable information but for Mongard, talking to the community is important because helps to identify ideas and current issues. In this case it was central to developing a meaningful town strategy.

One of the first projects in the town strategy to proceed involved improving the riverfront by building a park. “Each time we did something we had a little mini-engagement project,” explains Mongard. “We’d have a workshop and do a site walk, map out people’s ideas and then we’d go away and draw up a plan.” For the town strategy to be effective, Mongard believes it is critical for it to be realistic in terms of timeframes, capacity and available resources. Like most Bingara projects, the river park was designed and implemented as a collaboration; JMLA devised the plans with community input, local farmers erected the fence, the local council contributed funds and its staff built park elements.

During the first two years, further planning was also undertaken for more complex projects, including improvements to the main street and affordable housing. Another “setup shop” scenario, meetings with council staff and a community forum were staged to discuss the evolving plans and determine how to make them happen despite limited resources. For Mongard, “workshops provide an opportunity to find out what people value … and they act as catalysts for new ideas.” Local skills and knowledge are combined with state and federal funding opportunities to realize projects that could not be achieved any other way.

Work has recently begun on one of the most ambitious projects in the Bingara Town Strategy, the Living Classroom, which is envisaged as a learning centre and showcase for sustainable agriculture.

It will involve transforming 150 hectares of former grazing land adjacent to the town into an integrated and productive farm combining agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture and forestry. Initially the project was conceived without resources attached to it, so although JMLA provided plans, nothing was built. Breaking down the project into smaller activities and obtaining funding has allowed work to begin on the town’s river and creeks to mitigate flooding and recycle stormwater run-off through a revegetated swale system; and roads and paths are taking shape on the site around two new buildings that are already being used for accommodation and training by school and community groups.

Mongard travels to Bingara regularly to work on the project alongside contractors, council workers and volunteers. Being hands-on makes the process more experiential and allows him to modify designs in response to the land.

Collaborative design processes such as this might blur the lines between practitioners and community, but projects like Bingara’s Living Classroom demonstrate an efficient use of local skills, capacity and ideas as well as outcomes that reflect local aspirations. While Mongard acknowledges that it is an exhausting and time-intensive process, he says it is also rewarding. “For me it’s an experiment in seeing whether a country town can reinvent itself in a way [that will make it] more resilient, and I’m putting time into that because I think it’s important.”

Source Landscape Architecture Australia – August 2013 (Issue 139)

http://architectureau.com/articles/bingara-and-the-living-classroom/

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Australian Broadcasting Corporation on 18.12.2013

Treasure Trove: Busy Bee Greek cafe

By Louise Maher (666 Field and Online Reporter)

17 December, 2013 12:25PM AEDT

A collection of items from the Busy Bee cafe in Gunnedah is on display at the National Museum of Australia.

Photograph: Peter Zantiotis (left) and Lambros Zantiotis (far right) behind the counter of the Busy Bee Cafe

ABC Radio interview with Joanne Bach

In its heyday the Busy Bee cafe in Gunnedah was open between 7am and 11.30pm each day. Customers were offered a printed menu that included fish dinners, mixed grills and steak and chips. But though the cafe was run by the Zantiotis family from Greece, there was nothing Greek about the food.

"There's no baklava, there's no souvlaki - and that's what we would expect now," points out Joanne Bach, curator of Australian Society and History at the National Museum of Australia. "But what they did introduce were the milkshakes, the ice cream sundaes, the banana splits, all those great kind of American desserts ... and that was their real innovation."

From Greece to Gunnedah

Lambros Zantiotis arrived from Greece in 1928, leaving behind his wife and four children until he could afford to pay for their fares. In 1933, after working in a cafe in Gosford, he bought the Busy Bee cafe in Gunnedah, which had been owned by another Zantiotis family.

Son Peter arrived in 1936, followed by wife Anastasia and daughter Anna in 1938. Daughters Kalliopi and Evangelina weren't able to join them until after the war. When Lambros Zantiotis died suddenly in 1953, Peter and his wife Loula ran the cafe until Peter's death in 1996. Loula closed the cafe a decade later.

Best quality

Items from the cafe in the NMA's collection include vibrant orange, blue, pink, silver and gold anodised aluminium milkshake containers, a straw container and syrup containers, crockery embossed with the Busy Bee logo and a silver teapot, coffee pot, milk jug and sugar bowl.
"These people bought the best quality," explains Joanne, "because they wanted the best for their cafe and they wanted to present a really kind of classy image."

Also on display are a menu, a mirror and some of the original lights that featured at the end of each of the cafe's booths.

"Lambros Zantiotis actually commissioned a Greek shop fitter who did the interiors for so many of the Greek cafes and they were fitted out in the Art Deco style," Joanne says.

Vanishing past

The cafe collection tells an important story about immigration to Australia and also reminds us of a once common aspect of life in country towns.
"I think it has great nostalgic appeal," says Joanne. "It does really conjure up a past that's vanishing."

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 15.12.2013

Join us at the Official Opening ot the Bingara Roxy (Greek) Museum!

Bingara is planning a great weekend.

Come and smash some plates!

When

Saturday and Sunday 5th & 6th April 2014

Where

Bingara, NSW


• Official opening ceremony
• Movies and other screenings at the Roxy
• Talks on Greek cafes and cinemas
• Greek festiva,l Gala dinner,dancing
• Greek dance band

Further details will be announced on the Bingara Roxy Website www.roxybingara.com.au/museum and in the February and March issue of the Kytherian Association Newsletter,as well as on www.kythera-famlly.net

For Accommodation in Bingara book early. There is plenty of accommodation in nearby towns: Barraba, Warialda, lnverell and Moree.

Get *Kefi and smash some plates!

(*Kefi is a Greek word that encapsulates a spirit of joy, passion, enthusiasm and high spirits, when the soul and body are overwhelmed with an exuberance that must find an outlet).

View / Download a colour brochure of this invitation here:

Roxy Museum Opening April 2014 Small.pdf


The Museum is being designed by internationally renowned Museum designers, Convergence Associates, based in Camberwell, Melbourne.

Known as the Gem on the Gwydir River, Bingara is a vibrant, friendly town nestled among rolling mountains and national parks. There is much to see and do in the Bingara area including fossicking, bird watching,fishing, horse riding and nature walks.

Make it a tour!

Known as the Gem on the Gwydir River, Bingara is a vibrant, friendly town nestled among rolling mountains and national parks. There is much to see and do in the Bingara area including fossicking, bird watching,fishing, horse riding and nature walks.

Visit other attractions near Bingara


Fossick for gold at Three Creeks Goldmine
Discover the wonders of the Warialda Sculpture Park
Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Track
Moree's hot artesian baths
Magnificent Mount Kaputar and Sawn Rocks
Armidale's New England Regional Art Museum
Tamworth's Australian Country Music Hall of Fame
'lnverell's National Transport Museum'

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 02.12.2013

During the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage to Bingara

the group happened upon four Sydney University students who had been 'hazed" on the weekend of the 28th and 29th September.

As you can see from the photograph their looks and style of dress were radically altered, before being deposited in Bingara without money or credit cards.

Their escapades are related later in this entry.

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 02.12.2013

The Belrose Rotarian group met for early morning breakfast in the Roxy Cafe

Sunday 29th September, 2013.

In this photograph, in the foreground are the four Sydney University students who had been 'hazed" on the weekend of the 28th and 29th September.

Their escapades are related later in this entry.

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 04.12.2013

The Belrose Rotarian group met for early morning breakfast in the Roxy Cafe

....before departing for Sydney on Sunday 29th Sept, 2013.

Some of them are pictured here, along with their Kytherian sojourners.

Standing (left to right)

Alf Guy
Thomas Marynissen
Chris Brownlee (bus driver)
George C Poulos
Maria Gerakiteys
Helen Psaltis (mother to Kos)
Robyn Wood
Ron Furness

Sitting (left to right)

Chris Wood
Val Gibbs
Mike Gibbs
Kos Psaltis
Joanne Psaltis
Hastings Pawsey
Ebba Irengard (International Rotary Exchange student, Sweden)
Despina Comino, (known as Dez, (nee) Londy))

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 04.12.2013

Sawn Rocks lies a very pleasant 1 hour drive from Bingara

This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other.

A well maintained pathway allows you to walk down into the valley below Sawn Rocks.

Here, Kytherians are fascinated by the geological features in the valley. George J Comino with his wife Despina Comino, (known as Dez, (nee) Londy)) and Maria Gerakiteys.

Visited during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Sawn Rocks lies a very pleasant 1 hour drive from Bingara

This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other.

This pillar has sheered off the cliff face, and is lying in the valley below.

Visited during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Sawn Rocks lies a very pleasant 1 hour drive from Bingara

This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other.

These pillars have sheered off the cliff face, and are lying in the valley below.

Visited during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Sawn Rocks lies a very pleasant 1 hour drive from Bingara

This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. Visited during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area

...which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. Visited during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area

...which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. Visited during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Belrose Rotarian's fascinated by the stawberries growing at the River House, Bingara

The gardens at the River House are ecologically laid out, with a focus on growing plants which are both low maintenance and edible. The design concept is innovative and visionary.

The Rotarians visited the River House during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

The views from the H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, Bingara

...across the town, and the valley are spectacular.

The Rotary 'pilgrims' ventured up to the lookout during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 30.11.2013

Rotarians and Kytherians on the H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, Bingara

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along the way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 29.11.2013

Gold mining machinery at the Bingara park and barbecue area

Equipment used by the All Nations Goldmine, which operated from 1860-1948, producing 15.5kg of gold.

The rehabilitation of the equipment was funded by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources in co-operation with the Bingara Council and the Bingara Lions Club. The work was coordinated by the Soil Conservation Service of NSW, 1895-1986.

Visited by Belrose Rotarians during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Roxy Museum Bingara on 29.11.2013

Gold mining machinery at the Bingara park and barbecue area

Equipment used by the All Nations Goldmine, which operated from 1860-1948, producing 15.5kg of gold.

The rehabilitation of the equipment was funded by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources in co-operation with the Bingara Council and the Bingara Lions Club. The work was coordinated by the Soil Conservation Service of NSW, 1895-1986.

Visited by Belrose Rotarians during the

Belrose Rotarians, pilgrimage to Bingara

Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013


The 75th anniversary of the Roxy was celebrated on the weekend of April 9th and 10th 2011, with the official launch of the (then) recently renovated Peters & Co Cafe and the Roxy museum, film screenings in the Roxy Theatre, and historic tours of the Roxy. On the Saturday night, a panagiri type festival was held; a black-tie gala ball with a twist. The main street was closed off. Inspired by Greek band Ha Va Le, people took to the streets dancing, singing and smashing plates. It was an unforgettable weekend.

On Tuesday 23 August 2011, Peter Prineas, author of the definitive history of the Roxy, Katsehamos and the Great Idea, conducted a talk at the Rotary Club of Belrose, on Sydney’s North Shore. The Rotary Club of Belrose is very active. It meets on Tuesday’s at the Belrose Bowling Club, 146 Forest Way, Belrose.

As a result of Peter Prineas’ presentation the Belrose Rotary Club decided that they would make a trip to Bingara, to see the Roxy complex. The trip was planned to take place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September 2013. Kos Psaltis, immediate Past President of Belrose Rotary, was the key organiser. He has a ‘connection’ to Bingara. Kos is married to Joanne (nee, Flaskas), whose mother Mary Flaskas (nee, Feros) was the youngest daughter of Peter Feros, one of the partners in the Roxy Cinema and Cafe ‘complex’. The other siblings of Mary, in birth order, included Katina, Jack and George.

A second connection for the Belrose Rotarians was that a past President - Henry Martin, a Methodist (Uniting Church) priest - had retired to live in the town.

The 58th National Convention of the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was held between the 6th and the 13th October 2012. At the convention, Peter McCarthy, a member of the Roxy Museum Committee, delivered a talk about the Roxy ‘complex’.
As a result of that talk Sydney AHEPAN’s organised a 47 person bus trip to Bingara. On the 23rd February, 2013, they travelled by coach, on a Greek-Australian pilgrimage and heritage tour to visit the Roxy Complex, Bingara. Their motivation to participate in such a pilgrimage was understandable. All had a Greek-Australian heritage, many had grown up in cafes, and AHEPA had been inaugurated in the north western New South Wales towns of Warialda and Scone. They were returning to their Greek-Australian, cafe, and AHEPAN roots.

An interesting feature of the Belrose Rotary pilgrimage, by contrast, was the fact that the majority of the “pilgrims” were not Greek by heritage.
The pilgrims consisted of 17 people travelling in a 20 seater bus, and 7 others travelling in 3 separate cars. The bus driver Chris Brownlee from Garigal Tours had been invited by Kos Psaltis to become a friend of Belrose Rotary. Chris’s wife Miriam also joined the ‘touring party’. This created a third connection to the town; Miriam’s family lives in Bingara. Her late brother had a property on the Narrabri road. Miriam’s sister in law and her children now live in town, and are involved with the Rural Fire Service. The pilgrimage was enhanced by the fact that driver, Chris Brownlee had a good working knowledge of the town and district.

The Psaltis/Feros connection

Kos and Joanne Psaltis feel a “powerful historical family connection” to Bingara. “We feel pride that Joanne’s family – her late grandfather – has added value to this town”. Both Joanne and I have watched the ABC's Landline program A Night at the Roxy, about the 75th Roxy Anniversary celebrations, many times.

The restoration of the Roxy Cinema has had a profound impact on both of them. “When we walked into the Roxy Cinema for the first time, Joanne and I had the same sensation, as we did many years ago, when we first walked into the Taj Mahal in India. You walk through these gates and there it is in front of you. A real ‘wow’ factor. When we were at the official opening here, and we walked into the cinema, it had the same ‘wow’ factor. The quality of the interior and the way it has been preserved is amazing.”

Both of Kos’s parents have always been involved in the cafe industry. His father Theodore Psaltis had a milk bar and coffee shop in Bondi Junction called the Savoy for many years, and all his father’s siblings were also involved with cafes. His mother Helen Psaltis (nee Trefilly) remembers that she began working in her father’s cafe, the Busy Bee, in Kingaroy, Queensland from primary school. She kept working in the cafe until she was married at 19 years of age.

What is her feeling about coming to see a preserved piece of Greek-Australian history like the Roxy? “I regard it as an honour”, she asserts. “In a sense it’s a memorial, and it makes the local people appreciate the contribution of the Greek-Australians”.

Kos added that “It’s all part of the great Australian story. It’s a particular ethnic group that has contributed significantly to modern Australian society. I look at it in that context ...You feel proud of the input that our Kytherian ancestors contributed so much to Australia.”

Kos was asked, what do you think the reaction is of the Australian’s who were not of a Greek background in your touring party to the Roxy and Bingara? “They have been very impressed. I think they have got a lot out of it”. This is corroborated by the testimony of some of the other members of the touring party.

Another former President of Belrose Rotary, Ron Furness, was in the ‘touring party’. He commented that they had had a great trip ‘up’, and that Bingara, and the Roxy ‘complex’ was a fascinating place.

“I’ve been reflecting about my good fortune to know Joanne Psaltis. Of hearing about how her family discovered their connection with the Roxy back in 2002. And before that, sadly...melancholy in a way...that it was a dark family secret....and I was reflecting on that comment by Joanne as I sit here in 2013, a beautiful, balmy afternoon, with a bit of breeze... enjoying a lovely cold beer, and thinking ...that, about 80 years or so ago these fellows had this dream....God only knows what their dream was, because I understand that they went broke pretty soon after. Hence the family shame. This has all been well documented in Peter Prineas' Katsehamos and the Great Idea.

But now, in 2013, their dream is still working, and people like me, who was born in London, and has had the pleasure of being in Greece many times. And had the good fortune of once setting foot on Kythera, for a brief trip, and spending many months on Greek Cyprus....and enjoyed the hospitality of Greek people, which is then extended to any group within the Greek pantheon; and I am astonished that 80 years later, the dream is still alive.”

Ron Furness was also made aware of the powerful influence that the Greek cafe has had on the town. “We met people on the way up here....we had the good fortune of stopping in Greek cafes all the way up...at least from Muswellbrook onwards...and we met people who were on the way here, or on the way home. When the topic of conversation turned to ...Bingara ...Oh, ROXY THEATRE!.... and they were all positive.

Interestingly Ron Furness had brought his young grandson Thomas along on the journey. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during all the activities, mixing with the oldies, “climbing a few hills, and doing a number of walks”. The pilgrimage was obviously something young people could also benefit from.

Alf Guy’s Bingara Report

Alf Guy, originally from South Africa, is the current President of the Belrose Rotary Club. He was delighted with the ‘welcome and hospitality’ the group received in Bingara.

The Roxy Museum, within the Roxy complex - the main reason for our trip to the North West – is in its final stages of restoration by the Gwydir Shire Council. The preservation of the art décor trappings is a majestic undertaking - and seeing the theatre brought back to its original glory must have been an emotional experience for Joanne Psaltis, whose late grandfather was one of the three Greek settlers, who created this glorious building. The Roxy, in the 21st century will almost certainly be the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Bingara.

Our group was also privileged to see a screening of the movie Red Dog in The Roxy Cinema!!

Bingara lies on the gently sloping southern bank of Gwydir River, which is a tributary of the the Murray-Darling River System. On the first morning of our stroll through Bingara, the air was cool, clear and still - the view northward, towards the river was picture perfect. This was the setting for much of our stay in the little town of 1300 people. The days were beautifully warm.

The restoration of The Roxy and its associated café is just one of many projects undertaken by this progressive community. The construction of an ecologically complex Living Classroom and the associated on-site accommodation are also in the final stages of completion.

The planting of orange trees on the nature strip in town and the communal harvesting of the fruit - without fear of vandalism, is another remarkable community spirited venture.

From Bingara, a journey in a south-westerly direction towards Narrabri takes you into the Mt Kaputar National Park. Mt Kaputar National Park with its ancient volcanic and glacial relics was an additional highlight of the trip. The geological history of the area really attracted us, and the Gwydir Valley is so beautiful and pristine. Our first stop was a magnificent gorge and waterfall, the Rocky Creek Glacial Area which lies 37 kms west of Bingara, is clearly signposted, and is reached a short distance from the main road turnoff. This geological wonder should not be missed! A vast amount of weathering and erosion has occurred over the years, so the original glacial landscape features have been changed by the subsequent flow of water. The Glacial Area is an excellent place to picnic and cool off in summer.

The journey from Bingara to Sawn Rocks was a very pleasant 1 hour drive in the bus. This spectacular and majestic geological feature is located 64kms out of Bingara and 36kms from Narrabri. National Parks Sawn Rocks Leaflet. The forty (40) metre high towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes is the sheered off remains of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano which dominated the area 21 million years ago. It is an unusual phenomenon which is the result of the slow and even cooling of molten rock which enabled individual crystals within the rock to align perfectly with each other. While this type of five-sided (pentagonal) ‘organ piping’ is not rare to lava flows, it is exceptionally rare to find them so perfectly formed and preserved and is recognised as being one of the best examples of columnar jointing in Australia. Coincidentally it looks very 'Grecian'.

Chris Brownlee had charge of some 18 ebullient folk in his mini coach for the trip. The animated conversations and free flow of spirited anecdotes made the trip lively and enjoyable. Chris kept up a well informed commentary as we travelled south westward through the rich and economically diverse Hunter Valley. Miriam, Chris`s wife, did a splendid job of serving refreshments at the eating, viewing and recreation stops.

During our stay in Bingara, we also ventured to the picnic area in the town, were we saw well preserved gold mining machinery. We also ventured up to H F Batterham Memorial Lookout, with its spectacular views across the town and the valley. (Ralph Hunt, M.H.R. for Gwydir, opened the H.F. Battherham Lookout overlooking Bingara in 1975. The lookout was the result of ten years work from 1964-1975 by Bingara Apex Club. It involved the clearing of land, the construction of an archway entrance and the provision of picnic shelters at the summit. The lookout was named as a tribute to the late Harold Francis Battherham, a local historian who worked tirelessly to promote tourism in the district).

We also visited the attractive and ecologically built River House, one of the superior accommodation facilities in the North West region. We were told that Peranjou Cottages, a refurbished woolshed which offers two self contained units situated side by side, was another interesting place to stay.

Together with the seven travellers in three cars and the mini coach group, which undertook the excursion to Bingara, our group injected many tourism dollars into the Bingara community.

Our appreciation for the planning of the trip by Past President Kos Psaltis, and his wife Joanne (nee, Flaskas), Psaltis and their connections, cannot be overstated. The planning, sometimes complex due to last minute changes, was meticulous. A great thank you to the Psaltis`s from all Rotary’s Bingara pilgrims.

The Roxy Cafe breakfast

Early on the morning of Sunday 29th September 2013, just before leaving to return to Sydney, the pilgrims met at the Roxy Cafe for breakfast. The service provided by Vio and his staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The group reminisced about their youthful experiences in Greek cafes, either as owners, staff or patrons.

The touring party were joined by four young adults, two female, two male, who some of the touring group had met on the evening before. They were twenty-something students living at one of the residential colleges at Sydney University.

They had been subjected to a "hazing" or "fagging" ceremony - still tolerated by University colleges today. The "hazing" was 'disguised' as a charity fund raising "event".

The students had been dressed up in outrageous clothing, the males had parts of their hair shaved, their money and credit cards had been 'confiscated' and they had been driven up to Bingara and left in the street. With these impediments placed before them, they were 'challenged' to get back to Sydney in the best way they knew how.

The young women, in particular, were quite distraught in the evening, and some of the Rotarian group invited the four students to meet for breakfast. They were also fairly confident that George C Poulos was returning back to Sydney in the morning, and that he would be able to provide them with 'a lift' home.

They arrived at the breakfast without money, but in true Rotarian 'civic duty' style, a "whip around" was arranged, and they were soon given enough money, not only to pay for their own breakfast, but also to pay for expenditure for a few days, if required.

Their presence at the breakfast made the event even more memorable, and, coupled with feelings of outrage, disbelief, and sympathy about how they had been treated, also generated a great deal of amusement and humour.

It was certainly a story that would be related at future dinner parties for many decades to come. Yet another entertaining "Roxy" story.

As it turned out George C Poulos did give them a lift back, and within 9 hours had safely deposited them outside the doors of their Sydney University residential college.

George speculated that the 'hazers' must have been bitterly disappointed when they saw their victims return so quickly, and in such good spirits.

Chris Brownlee’s impressions

Coach driver Chris Brownlee was very impressed with the Roxy ‘complex’. “It’s colossal history”. As we have discovered, there are many other attractions in and around Bingara.

Chris was also impressed by the ‘Living Classroom’ project, located in the town, off the Narrabri road. “This learning centre is going to be a talking point for years to come...for sure. For a small town Bingara has done exceptionally well. Something for other small towns to learn from as well.”

We need to teach young people farming again, and get people back on the farm. Particularly the young ones. The next generation is much more interested. My sister-in-law is into permaculture, and they are doing some of these innovative things on their six acres in the Macleay Valley. She’s learnt through horticultural classes in Brisbane. The next generation is moving towards being more self-sufficient, looking after nature, and getting back to nature. It’s all going to happen in that generation, who are in their 20’s now.”

A Greek-Australian and a rural Australian pilgrimage well within reach

Some people have commented that Bingara, 8 hours drive from Sydney and 7 hours drive from Brisbane, is a pilgrimage that is “too far away”.

This 'opinion' undermines the essential nature of pilgrimage – undertaking a transformative journey to a sacred centre, which should in some measure be ‘challenging’.

It was informative however, that most of the Rotary pilgrims did not find the journey onerous. Kos Psaltis argued that if asked if the pilgrimage was ‘too far’, “I would look at it differently. I would ask, “far away from what?” The implication of Kos's comment is that it is certainly not as onerous a pilgrimage as visiting the Acropolis or Kythera, for example. His mother Helen added, that “you see so many interesting towns and people on the way”.

Alf Guy revealed that on the journey ‘up’ Chris and Miriam Brownlee “entertained us all along way. At no time did we feel bored. The trip went very quickly...passengers and the group displayed a great deal of camaraderie....their friendship, jocular nature and flexibility made the trip very, very enjoyable’.

These comments reflected those that the 47 AHEPAN’s had made earlier in the year. Comments by Christine Lynch, National President of the Order of AHEPA, Australasia were typical.

"We felt we were part of history- a “living history”. Everybody thought it was wonderful. We all felt very privileged. We were thrilled to be part of it. We were treated like royalty. The evening itself was ‘magic”. The whole Roxy complex is “magic”. We all look forward to coming back. Particularly after the Roxy Museum is completed". The journey to the Roxy is too interesting to be onerous.

As we discovered with young Thomas’s involvement, it engages children as well as adults.

As well as the attractions mentioned above, Bingara offers easy access to other interesting tourist destinations , such as:

Myall Creek Massacre Site

Ceramic Break Sculpture Park

Three Creeks Tourist Mine

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre

Copeton Dam

Manilla, world class paragliding

Above and beyond visiting the Roxy ‘complex’ there is much to do and see. Even spending a week in Bingara and district will not allow time to visit all the tourist attractions in the area.

Every Kytherian Australian and every Greek Australian is encouraged to visit Bingara and the Roxy – at least once in their lifetime.

Bingara Roxy Museum Grand Opening Celebrations

See the Gwydir Shire Council website for information about the opening
The opening of the museum will take place on Saturday 5 April 2014 and will be celebrated with Greek food and music, screenings in the historic Roxy Theatre, tours of the museum and culminating in a gala dinner on the Saturday evening. Further information on the opening celebrations will be provided as arrangements are finalised.

Accommodation in Bingara is limited, so all those planning to attend are advised to book their accommodation as soon as possible. During the 2011 75th Anniversary celebrations, visitors were accommodated in a number of surrounding towns, when Bingara accommodation was filled.

For more information please contact the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066.

Would you like to contribute to the Roxy Museum?

The Roxy Greek Museum is interested in hearing from you if you have objects or photographs that you might like to offer to the collection. For more information please contact the museum curator Peter Prineas on 0429 322 857.

Let us know if you would like to make a financial donation, or offer cafe paraphernalia to the Museum, download the Acquisition Form