Bingara, in central New South Wales, really knows how to throw a party: white tablecloths decorated with olive twigs, great food eaten beneath the stars, a touch of 1930s glamour glittering in the candlelight, and Greek music bouncing through the wide streets of this delightful country town. Not to mention dancing and plate-smashing in the main intersection. Dinner on Saturday night was the highlight of a weekend of events that marked the opening of Bingara’s Greek Café Museum.
Congratulations to curator Peter Prineas, who has brought together a collection of artefacts, old photographs, films, interactive displays and stories representing the history of the Greek shopkeeping phenomenon in Australia. Still a work in progress, the museum is destined to grow as travellers from all over the country add their experiences of café life.
Breakfast in the nearby restored Peter’s Café was equally delightful. For two days the new proprietors were inundated by a hoard of visitors hungry for bacon and eggs, coffee and toasted sandwiches and, my favourite, Gypsy Omelette. It must have been like this when troops swamped cafés in the forties, or in the decades before television, when Greek cafés and picture theatres like Bingara’s Roxy were the centre of social life on Saturday nights.
As celebration of the Greek presence in Bingara grows—from picture theatre to café to museum and, potentially, guest house—there’s every possibility that this little town will become a mecca for Greek-Australians and, perhaps,the site of a Greek festival that is a significant event on the national calendar. I can’t wait for my next visit.