MAKING TRACKS: Bangalow Public School students preparing for the big race this weekend.
MAKING TRACKS: Bangalow Public School students preparing for the big race this weekend.

Bangalow Billycart Derby still on a roll after 21 years

FOR up to 200 competitors set to take part in the 22nd Bangalow Billycart Derby this Sunday, it's all downhill from here.

Of course, that just means we are days away from one of this region's most anticipated events that sees up to 6000 spectators line the streets as racers from across Australia roll down the town's centre.

Today we might recognise Bangalow as a bustling heritage-style town. However the first Bangalow Billycart Derby took place in 1994 and was considered both a celebration of the town's future and a possible way to revive it - depending on which side of the track you stood.

Some saw the event as a way to cheer for the removal of heavy traffic thanks to the then new Pacific Highway bypass, while others hoped the event would attract visitors following concern the diversion of traffic would kill business in Bangalow, according to derby co-ordinator Carolyn Adams.

"The inaugural derby took place because we were finally able to close off the main street," she said.

"People were quite concerned that the bypass would be the death of the town, when in fact it was the actual making of the town."

Bangalow Public School has even taken the town's affinity for the billycart a step further by incorporating design, construction and publicity of their contraption into the curriculum.

"As a stage team we have been looking for creative ways to deliver the new science and technology curriculum this year," said assistant principal and teacher Bill Dempster.

"By presenting the exciting task of building, designing and promoting a billycart to our students, we hope to have challenged them with an authentic task that ties in with the Bangalow community heritage."

The Primary Schools Challenge proves to be a popular race each year with $1000 up for grabs while other highlights include the celebrity race, the novelty race and the street parade.

TO HELP you plan your day, here's a bit of what's happening:

7am to 9am: Scrutineering and registration. Scrutineering to take place in the FoodWorks carpark, while registration will be located inside the Bangalow Hotel.

2.55pm: Celebrity Race. Each year a line-up of local celebrities takes to the track. This year's line-up includes Tex Perkins (musician), Janelle Purcell (chef and author), Pat Davern (Grinspooon guitarist) and Pete Timbs (Big Brother).

11.45am: Primary Schools Challenge. This is one of the most popular and competitive races of the day. It sees schools from across the Northern Rivers take part for the chance to win a $1000 prize. For the first time, the challenge will be divided into two categories - traditional and home-grown carts.

12.30pm: Street Parade. A major part of the derby day entertainment. Local organisations and community groups join the festivities and parade through the main street.

2.45pm: Novelty Race. This is always a lot of fun and involves carts designed to make you marvel at their ingenuity - or just make you laugh.

Also see: Mad Hatter's Derby Tea Party from 9am to 3pm: Between races there is plenty to do courtesy of the Bangalow Primary School's Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Located at the school grounds includes rides, food stalls, and more. 

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