A Village Winter Ball

When we first moved into the village I had no idea about the rhythms of it, the seasons, the events that make up a year living in this corner of the world. At the end of summer there’s trivia on a summery, misty evening in the hall. How in Easter there is a market with literally thousands of people visiting (and so much volunteering…maybe we would have never moved here if we knew that!), about the stunning autumn light and leaves that turn every colour you could imagine and the sound of the last post being played on a trumpet outside the hall on a cold April morning. About the frosts of June, the crackers at the pub on the coldest night of the year it seems: the Sunday night of the long weekend. The beauty of Spring, all those blossoms: daffodils to snow pears to tulips and then into the greenest summer, piano concerts in the hall with kids dancing and singing, end of year school assemblies on stinking hot December afternoons and of course Christmas Eve at the pub where Santa comes to visit on a carriage.

And how in January, we start over and do it all again.

Small villages and communities are built on traditions and rhythms like this, they have been happening long before we got here and hopefully long after. They are the legacies that must be respected and carried forward and require effort and lots of help just to get on with getting it done. Because that’s the way it is.

I suppose in this day that it’s often the last thing that people want to do. Everyone is busy with their own lives and families, work and demands. No one necessarily wants to go sit in a hall on a Tuesday night listening to minutes being written and decisions being made about the minutiae of how to best spend the money for this or that, about helping make sandwiches for the Bridge Day, but it has to get done. It’s one of my love/hate parts of living here: I love everything that it brings with it: community, friendships, a feeling of belonging and being part of something bigger than ourselves but of course all that TIME and effort, and meetings.

This weekend we have our annual Winter Ball which is always on the Saturday night of the June Long weekend – often the coldest night it seems of the year. People frock up and pile into the hall for a catch up, a good feed, plenty of drink and dance and it’s great fun. We raise money for our School of Arts, such a cornerstone of our town: a meeting place, and in fact is owned by everyone who lives here. It costs well over $20k a year to keep it maintained and looked after, and while holding functions and weddings throughout the year helps, we need events like this to help raise money. It’s always happened and hopefully always will, it’s just what you do.

I got roped onto the School of Arts committee when we first moved here and it was the BEST way to get the insights and rundown on how everything worked. It was LOTS of work, sure and with a young family, tricky at times, but without that, our place here would never have been grounded. I learned so much and met SO many wonderful people. Of course many meetings looked like a scene out of Vicar of Dibley, but how wonderful that the renovation of the toilet block calls for a morning tea with home made scones and huge pots of tea with hand knitted tea cosies. This is still a thing! A glorious thing.

I helped on a number of these balls from 2012, 2013 & 2014 taking the reigns with my mate Mrs Munro who has lived here her whole life. She gets it. She went to the public school in Burrawang, and now her own girls are there. She is a creative genius and with a group of us we managed to pull together some great nights where we pulled the ball out of debt, raise some money and have lots of fun along the way.

This was the first ball we ever went to in 2011 when we pretty much knew no one and went with my sister and brother and danced the night away. I think it was when we were targeted as potential people who might help out…if only we knew!

Here was 2012, our Winter Wonderland, under the strict guidance of the committee and with every decoration pulled out of paddocks for nothing. Was a great night! We did this on zero budget, in fact I think guests had to stand up for a buffet dinner, but we had fun!

Here was 2013, when we got a little more freedom and made a LOT of money thanks to a couple of big fancy tables from Sydney who were splashing around cash. We had the use of a new friend who moved to town who used to be a florist…if you can tell! So many hours of planning goes into these things…so many favours to ask in between kids running around under our feet.

In 2014, we did a Alice in Wonderland, mad hatter type wonderland night with all kinds of wilderness and moss and ferns growing about in the hall. Man I loved how this looked – it’s hard to tell in these photos though. Such a great and THE best band we have ever had. Man we danced that hall down! And I got to go to Mrs C’s house to borrow some of her diamonds for the night!

Then I went and had Maggie and so was off the committee and put of action for a while. Although we did go to the ball in 2016 even though we did nothing…that was fun to just go and enjoy it! I do recall having to head home half way through to settle Maggie though!

And then last year…no ball! No one wanted to do it. That’s not ok! So of COURSE I said we would get the band back together and get another ball on. And so that’s what we are doing this weekend. Months of planning, favour asking, text messages and juggling between our own works and lives and families and commitments, we have a ball on Saturday night.

It’s been a sell out, and FAST. People want the ball even though no one wants to DO the ball! The next few days are going to be mad trying to get it all done, creatively working and making shit up as we go. We called the ball BACK IN BLACK.

It’s going to be a little dark MOFO. A little weird and hopefully WONDERFUL. In any case there are 140 people who get a chance to get dressed up, eat a wonderful meal, win some great prizes and drink and dance the night away. That old hall has some more life in her yet!

I can’t wait to share it all with you guys next week…until then…I have some serious juggling to do…and all without Rob who is OS. OK, let’s do this.

Are you part of a community that requires volunteering?
I think you are either a do-er or not.
(Un at times) Fortunately for all, I am a do-er!


  1. Your village is lucky to have you and all the volunteers who literally make these traditions happen. I’ve loved your descriptions of the village ball over the years. These events are so important to community and culture, aren’t they? I’d hoped your quiet corner of the world was safe from the demands of fast paced, high pressure life!

  2. I love the village ball. I dream of living in a village. Keep the ball going so we can live vicariously through you. I’d be on the committee for sure. It’s what I do, events! But the corporates don’t appreciate it as much as the village.

  3. I was actually going to go to your ball Beth and then life said no!
    It says it all that those tickets sold out so quickly. Burrawang is so luck to have people like you to volunteer to get these events happening. Have fun. I hope the hangovers are minimal. Can’t wait to hear about all the fun next week.

  4. I’m on the P&C at school. This is our first year as a Kindy-6 school and man have we been busy. Too busy, and I’m too exhausted. But the show must go on. I’m trying hard to recruit new members as we really really need more people to share the load. I’m feeling a burnout coming, not just for me but for all of us doing the bulk of the work. I’m worried next year there will be no one to do the work!

    Today we’ve got Grandparents Day at school and a bake sale. I’m going to be there all day… not what I signed up for hahahah

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