Rodney, Max, Bruce and Les Watson.
Rodney, Max, Bruce and Les Watson. The Northern Star

Woodenbong celebrates centenary

WOODENBONG was only in its teens when one of its senior residents, Les Watson, was born there.

This weekend, Woodenbong celebrates its centenary and Mr Watson will proudly tell you he has another 16 years to reach the same mile- stone.

Raised in Woodenbong, Les also brought up his own family in the town.

“It's just something about the lifestyle here that makes people not want to leave,” he said.

Making reference to the town's long battle for a potable water supply, he joked that his decision not to leave had 'nothing to do with something in the water'.

Of course, Les attended Woodenbong Central School, which will also celebrate its centenary this weekend.

So, too, did his son Rod, who confessed that seeing the school always made him feel nostalgic.

He vividly remembers walking to school each morning, having lunch from one of three cafes in town, and playing rugby league ('the only football') against other local schools.

Rod, who graduated in 1974, said a lot of people from his grade still lived in the town, and will be able to reminisce during the centenary celebrations.

The school song declares the school's foundations as 'Friendship, Work and Loyalty', and Rod said such values hadn't left the town.

“The town hasn't really changed that much in terms of the community spirit that's here,” he said.

“People here still look out for each other.”

Despite living in Woodenbong all his life, he admits he has never seen the elusive Yowie that's rumoured to live in the surrounding World Heritage-listed rainforest.

“There are more sightings around Christmas time,” he joked.

“I've never gone searching for it, but there was a professional Yowie hunter who stayed here for a while.”

Rod Watson may not spot a Yowie this weekend, but he hopes to share a few hairy yarns with his mates.

WHAT'S IN A NAME ...
  •  Woodenbong was officially declared a village in 1908.
  •  The name 'Woodenbong' is derived from the language of the local Githabul Aboriginal people and means 'ducks on a lagoon'.
  •  The surrounding World Heritage-listed rainforests are also reputed to be the home of the mythical Yowie, although sightings are rare -'except at Christmas', say bemused locals.
PROGRAM

Saturday:

  •  Tours of Woodenbong Central School, displays, memorabilia, Githabul Aboriginal Heritage display, barbecue and Devonshire tea available all day.
  •   Official ceremony noon at the Memorial Gates, followed by a footy match.
  •  Rodeo from 2.30pm at the showground.
  •  Old-time movies will be shown at the Picture Theatre Hall, evening meal, family dance with a showcase and supper.
  •  Heritage displays behind the fire station.

Sunday:

  •  Breakfast in the grounds of Woodenbong Central School.
  •  Centenary Special Yowie Country Market from 8am-2pm at the public hall.
  •  Thanksgiving service at the Picture Theatre Hall, and a preschool fete from 11am.
  •  The Woodenbong Golf Club will also be hosting a centenary round of golf, and the tennis club at Woodenbong Central School will be open for a centenary match.


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