Guyra will welcome 2011 with the 24th annual Lamb & Potato Festival. Make sure you set aside a day this January for good food and fun at Guyra. Guyra, a town of around 2,000 people, is located in the heart of the New England, midway between Sydney and Brisbane, on the New England Highway. At 1,320 metres (4,330 feet) above sea level, Guyra is the highest town on the tablelands.
Alittle history of the Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival
In 1986, Royce Newbury and Frank Presnell, members of the Guyra Rotary Club, decided that the major products of Guyra, then being prime lamb and potatoes, should be promoted with a week long festival to be held in January.
The first Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival was held in January 1987 in Rotary Park on the New England Highway, to catch the eye of passing holiday traffic and to coincide with travellers to and from the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Over the years, this has proved a very successful tactic, and it now is a ‘must stop’ at Guyra for people travelling to and from the Tamworth Festival.
Rotary Park lent itself for such an event to take place, as it has an amenities block and a tree-lined area stretching on for more than a kilometre, with plenty of parking space.
Since 1987, the Lamb and Potato Festival has continued to promote Guyra. The festival is run each year for between 10 to 15 days in January and always takes in the Australia Day flag raising and other activities.
The Lamb and Potato statue was erected and unveiled on Australia Day, January 26, 1988. It took the takings of two festivals to pay for the statue and the lighting for the statue at night.
The festival was started by people who had a ‘can do’ attitude and has evolved from a few volunteers working out of an old caravan and a ‘lean-to’ with legs of lamb being cooked in kitchens all over town!
There were nightly deliveries of the lamb, and in the early morning volunteers drove around picking up the cooked product.
The kiosk was built and completed for the 1993 festival. This replaced a makeshift kiosk of the Rotary and Lions caravans and a ‘lean-to’. Now there is a large kiosk / kitchen that was built with the blood, sweat and tears of those early volunteers, and there are market stalls spread the length of Rotary Park, with regular ones rebooking before they leave Guyra each year.
A Community Effort
The Lamb and Potato Festival brings together the whole Guyra community, with members from many organisations helping out each year in the kiosk, doing night caretaker, keeping the grounds clean and tidy, the toilets and so on – working and having fun together.
This help from all the community organisations is vital, as this festival is now far too large to be put on by just a handful of volunteers.
A large percentage of the money raised at the festival is disbursed to community organisations each year. Some funds are kept aside to make small improvements to the kitchen facility, so it can cope with the growing demands.
The festival aims to showcase local produce, so wherever possible, all produce used at the festival is purchased locally. It is only where an item is unavailable in Guyra that purchases are made outside town.
The festival has put Guyra on the map over the length and breadth of the eastern states of Australia, with visitors from as far away as northern Queensland and Victoria.
Every year has seen a growth in the number of musicians calling into the festival to provide entertainment – many locals, and folk from as far away as Bonalbo, Coffs Harbour, Torrington and Tingha. The music is predominately country and is very laid back and relaxed compared to Tamworth.
The outdoor movie screen in the park has proved very popular and will be a happening event again this year.
Car Club Displays
Various car clubs come for the weekends, setting up displays of their pride and joys for all to admire. Negotiations are taking place to try and bring a large contingent of older military vehicles for the first weekend, and we would like to see a lot more cars on show.
If you have a vehicle parked in the shed that would be something of interest, bring it down; we don’t care what category … particularly on the first weekend. Park it under the trees to the south of the stalls, and let’s see your ‘Treasured Ride’.
WWII Military Vehicle Display
This year will see a new event for the first weekend – a display of old military vehicles, including tanks etc. This is sure to be a crowd pleaser and we anticipate that this will become a bigger attraction over the next couple of years, with boys with big toys coming from as far as the Victorian border.
Council has increased the amount of land available to the committee this year, and we will be extending the stall area to provide more variety and new vendors to Guyra. This area will now extend over towards the NAB car park and may even begin to fill the car park, given we are still fielding enquiries. The committee hopes that this will also lead people over to experience the businesses in our lovely main street.
This year, many of the local food outlets have put on special lamb, potato and tomato themed menus, and we encourage people to visit the various locations and experience more fine dinning and local produce.
These have proved popular since making a long awaited return to the tracks of Guyra, thanks to the efforts of the Machinery Group. Bring the whole family down for a great nostalgic ride along the rail tracks behind the festival site.
Armidale Mountain Bike Club will be hosting a number of new events for the festival, from skills and information days, to a criterion event on the gun club circuit, to a cross country guided ride on the old Cobb and Co track. This will be a great ride on Australia Day; bring your family and your bikes and experience up to 50 km of cross country riding.
Antique Machinery Rally
Working in with the festival, Guyra’s Antique Machinery Group hold a rally and Swap Meet each year, usually over the final weekend. This year the Rally will be held on Saturday and Sunday 22 and 23 January.
The Antique Machinery Group has one of the best collections in the northern area of New South Wales.
We take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and if you have a passion to showcase your district, then we need your help and ideas …
If you would like to help, please contact President Steve Mepham on L & P Mobile ph 0423 733 700, or check out our website at www.guyra-lamb-potato.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
So come on down From January 14 to 27. You’ll have a chance to discover that the Lamb and Potato Festival is ‘Top of the Range’ for food and fun.T
he New England is renowned for many national parks, and Guyra is ideal to use as a base. The New England National Park, Guy Fawkes River National Park, Cathedral Rock and the Styx River National Park are to the east and have camping areas and walking tracks. At Ebor, in the Guy Fawkes River National Park, the falls are truly spectacular.
Streams around Guyra are well known for trout fishing, and as long as you ask and do not litter or light fires, you are welcome. Sandy Creek, Ollera Creek, Moredun Creek, Rockvale Creek and Boorolong Creek are all good spots. Fossickers can find sapphires, jelly bean crystals and grass stone at Stannifer.
Also try Stoney Creek off Bundarra Rd and in an area south west of Copes Creek. Jones swamp gully 3km from Wandsworth is another likely spot. Sapphires and topaz can be found in the Sara River near Kookabookra.
There is always something happening in and around Guyra. In January we have our famous Lamb and Potato Festival, and February’s highlight is the annual Agricultural Show.
Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival
Guyra is well known for its Lamb and Potato Festival, held over 10 days in mid to late January. A lot of travellers choose to stop in Guyra on their holidays or on their way to the Country Music Festival.
The festive season can be quite tiring. Locals often bring their visitors to the festival for a chance to relax, pick up a bargain, sample the famous meat pies, while being entertained by local talent. There is fun for all the family and a chance to dine al fresco under the shady trees along the highway.
The Guyra and District Historical Society Machinery Group holds an antique machinery rally each year in conjunction with the festival. This is held on the Australia Day long weekend and is always very well represented by enthusiasts transporting, from near and far, their favourite machines for display at the rally.
Annual Agricultural Show
Another up and coming event for Guyra is the annual Agricultural Show held in mid February, which also attracts people from far and wide. It is easy to see why, with rides for the kids, an extensive range of exhibitions to view and there is always something happening in the ring.
The pavilion exhibits are always of exceptional quality, and a number of entries over the years have gone on to win at zone level and at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Places to stay, play and nibble away.
Visitors can enjoy a diverse blend of recreational activities, from relaxed farm stays, bed and breakfasts, trout fishing, bird watching, fossicking and bush walking. Bring your family, friends or guests and come and see what’s on offer in and around Guyra.
You will be amazed at the vast array of accommodation options on offer in and around the area. The Bed & Breakfasts and Farm Stays are of the highest standard, with most boasting tranquil views and bushland, with plenty to do. The majority of the Farm stays can accommodate a number of guests, with self contained cabins and cottages.
Relax beside a tranquil lake, or a log fire. Get involved in summer or winter fishing, including fly and lure fishing experiences, trout fishing, bush walking and fossicking. Feed or catch Yellow Belly, Cod and Silver Perch, or enjoy platypus and bird watching.
There are a cafés and restaurants, clubs and pubs that offer the most relaxed dining atmosphere; so whatever you want, from a quick bite to an evening out, there will be a place in Guyra to suit your every culinary desire.
For more information, visit www.guyra.nsw.gov.au or contact the Council directly on (02) 6770 7100.
We look forward to seeing you in our town.