Olive tree grows into a Greek culture

THEY came, they danced in the street, they dashed plates on the ground – Bingara’s grand opening of its Roxy Greek Museum on the weekend was, literally, a smash.

Gwydir Shire Council economic development officer Georgia Standerwick said everything went extremely well and the weather was kind.

The Roxy Greek Museum was officially opened by NSW governor Marie Bashir on Saturday night and the museum was also open all weekend.

Three hundred and twenty people dined in the main street outside the The Roxy Theatre, an art deco delight which first opened in 1936 and was re-opened three years ago after a massive refurbishment.

This time it was the turn of the Roxy Greek Museum, installed in the downstairs wing of the theatre, to have its moment of glory. 

“It was fantastic,” Ms Standerwick said.

“People were amazed this was happening in such a small town.”

Greek ambassador Haris Dafaranos and state arts minister George Souris were also present.

Mr Dafaranos “gave a beautiful speech – just how important it is for these little towns to have the connection with Greece”, Ms Standerwick said.

An olive tree was symbolically planted by relatives of the three Greek men who built the Roxy Theatre – Emanuel Aroney, Peter Feros and George Psaltis.

Ms Standerwick said council would now try to get some cuttings off another olive tree that was planted behind another Greek cafe which had also once existed in the town.

“When Greeks came to Australia, one of the first things they did was plant an olive tree,” she said.

The museum is dedicated to the history of Greek settlement in country Australia. 

A plaque was also unveiled by the late Archie Kalokerinos’s wife and daughter – Dr Kalokerinos was the town’s GP for many years.

“One comment I kept getting was: When are we going to do it next?” Ms Standerwick said.

She said another celebration could happen in two years’ time, when The Roxy Theatre turned 80.

The museum’s regular opening hours are 9am-4.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm on weekends.

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