Elvis, Abba, wine, races, rail and pies: around the Central West in 200 days

Since moving to Orange from Sydney, Central Western Daily journalist DAVID FITZSIMONS has seen more of the Central West than many long-time residents.

Here’s his account of his time sampling the fun and festivities our region has to offer ...

It could have been the sight of people stuffing cherry pies into their mouths.

Or watching speed shearing on the back of a truck. Or a street full of Elvises. Or even a train load of women in Abba costumes.

Whatever it was as a newly planted tree changer from Sydney to the Central West I was keen to explore all the quirky events drawing crowds to our region.

My Around the Central West in 200 days tour, taking licence from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, has shown me an amazingly diverse region with tongue-in-cheek ideas for having a good time.

It started in the agricultural pavilion at the Orange showground in October with the Orange Wine Festival’s tasting event.

As the fine wine flowed my wife and I quickly decided this was a good idea.

November saw us in the streets of Millthorpe on Garden Ramble weekend.

Soon after we were in Young for the cherry festival posting pictures on Facebook as people with incredibly fast appetites scoffed whole cherry pies battled for glory.

Nothing like a reigning champion being knocked off by an unknown to keep the action flowing.

All this was too good to keep to ourselves so we were joined by  group of friends from Sydney on a hot January Saturday for the Parkes Elvis festival.

There’s nothing like the sight of some overweight men on parade in skin tight suits getting All Shook Up heading for the Heartbreak Hotel to get you feeling It’s Now or Never to have a fun time.

Next month was the first of two visits to Bathurst for their burgeoning 12 hour and 6 hour [at Easter] car races.

I’m not a 1000 fan but the variety, international interest, relaxed attitudes and the smaller crowds at these two events make them great three-day weekends.

The Lachlan Valley Railway ran vintage rail motor tours to picnic races in February and a trip to Condobolin was a must-do.

The sight of people waiting to board at Molong and Manildra stations with drinks in hand and eskies full set the party tone.

We couldn’t back a winner at the dusty track but the party was still going strong as the sun set behind the quaint train rumbling back to Orange.

Orange Food Week was in April and the Night Markets in Robertson Park kicked off a busy and popular event.

Then we were off to Eugowra in April for the murals weekend.

The novelty of speed shearing on a truck and the artists’ skills won the city slickers over.

But, as they say, save the best till last.

Forbes station was alive on a Saturday morning in May as we joined Abba fans aboard the express to Parkes.

The express became the dawdler but our late arrival didn’t stop hundreds from greeting the train trackside as it pulled to a stop in Trundle.

With the main street closed for stalls, singing and dancing and with Abba hits in full swing the Trundle Abba festival is proof that if you have a good idea and a keen committee you can pull off anything, no matter how small your town is.