Lynne Mowbray |
Saturday’s soaring temperature finally gave way to a nice breeze, as well over 100 picnickers turned out for the inaugural sunset Riverside Picnic, in McLachlan Park, Maclean.
A wide cross section of the community came together in a relaxed atmosphere, to enjoy the experience and ambiance of the sunset picnic beside the beautiful Clarence River.
There was a real sense of community as the crowds inter-mingled, enjoying a picnic and a drink with friends and visitors alike.
Maclean residents Leon and Toni Ankersmit and their children rode their push bikes down to the event.
Leon told The Independent that his family were having a great time at the community picnic.
“We’ve been enjoying the nice cool breeze coming off the river and meeting a few new friends and our kids have been busy in the activity tent in the shade, making some new friends as well,” Leon said.
“It’s really nice to see a cross section of the community; it’s not just young trendy people, I can see all kinds of people from all walks of life just enjoying this picnic, which is wonderful,” he said.
Event organiser Phil Nicholas from ‘Events Delivered’ said that the idea came about after discussions with the Clarence Valley Council (CVC) regarding the possibility of creating an event together, for the official opening of the new look McLachlan Park precinct.
“That event for the official opening didn’t come to fruition,” Phil said.
“But that conversation planted the seed and so I started to do some thinking and planning about how to do an event here.
“I have experience in navigating the local event licensing regulations etc because of my background in organising the ‘Surfing the Coldstream Festival’ and the Yamba River Markets.
“I really like the idea of free events; events that anyone can just turn up to.
“You can bring your own food and drinks or you can buy from us, so anyone can come – and everyone has come today,” he said.
Phil said that the crowd numbers on the day were exactly what he had hoped for; and he was happy to see them utilising the river and riverside landscapes.
“If it can work here then it can also work in other parts of the Clarence,” said Phil.
“So maybe (in areas like) Lawrence, Ulmarra, Yamba and Grafton, the riverside picnics concept can just move along the river.
“I’ve specifically picked local caterers to ensure the money stays in the area.
“We’ve got Ed Goode – Two Bridges Expresso organising the grill and food anti pesto platters and Sandy Munro from ‘The Little Local’ serving craft beer.
“I applied to council for a temporary exemption to the alcohol-free zone so that we could run a bar. It’s nice to see people modelling adult, responsible drinking behaviour for the kids and other young people here,” he said.
Saturday’s Riverside Picnic was the first of three events.
Phil said that the next two events will be held in McLachlan Park on Saturday February 16 and Saturday March 16.
“In March, the Yaegl elders will be here to do the ‘Welcome to Country’ and telling yarns about the Clarence River,” Phil said.
“I think that this is the sort of event that council envisioned when they designed this re-modelling (of McLachlan Park); it has all the facilities for people to enjoy the space in this way – from those with boats to the locals.
“I think there are good times ahead for these riverside locations and they’re going to get used more and more,” he said.