Bega-Littleton Citizens' Exchange


Bega-Littleton Citizens' Exchange


  1. The Bega/Littleton Sister City Exchange, Inc. - A Brief History
  2. A Tribute to Houstoun Waring and Curly Annabel
  3. Saga of Bega Rural Youth Travel Foundation
Other Items:

Curly Annabel in Littleton, 1961
The spotlight was on Mr Curly Annabel (centre) seated in the back of a car in a Cavalcade of Welcome during his visit to Littleton in 1961.

Houston Waring in Bega, 1976
Mr Brian Warby (left) gives a few hints on the correct manner in holding a cricket bat to Mr Houston Waring, Bega 1976.

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The Bega/Littleton Sister City Exchange, Inc.
- A Brief History

In 1951, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Information Agency initiated the making of the motion picture, "Small Town Editor", for use in foreign countries to encourage a rural press to supplement the usually government controlled news. This film, made in Littleton, Colorado, U.S.A., featured Houstoun Waring, editor of the Littleton Independent, who had achieved national recognition for his editorials on foreign affairs.

W.B. (Curly) Annabel of the Bega District News in Bega, New South Wales, Australia, saw the film, which dealt with the people, goals and production of the Littleton Independent. Entranced by the similarity of Bega and his newspaper with Littleton and its newspaper, Annabel began a correspondence with Waring in December 1954 and visited the Waring family the next summer.

When President Eisenhower urged sister-city relationships, Annabel and Waring decided in 1960 to form a bond between the two cities. This led to an invitation from Annabel for the Waring's to attend Bega Week in February, 1961. While there, they consummated the association between Bega and Littleton, communities 9,000 miles/15,000 kilometres apart, to become the first Australian and U.S.A. sister cities.

In August 1961, Annabel brought four young people (Bega high-school students) to Littleton for Western Welcome Week. Thereafter, the custom was established for Littleton to send a delegation to Bega on the first and sixth years of the decade and for Bega to send a delegation to Littleton on the third and eighth years. The March 2001 Littleton delegation visit was the 9th official visit to Bega.

The delegates are hosted by member families and get a taste of home life and community activities in addition to tours of the immediate area. A high point of each visit is the International Civic Dinner attended by the delegates, government representatives of both countries, members of various civic organizations and other community members.

Over the years since inception many Littleton and Bega members have returned to visit friends made on previous trips. The relationships between members of the sister-city groups have grown over the years. All of this having started through the efforts of the two visionary community leaders - Houstoun Waring (1901 - 1997) and Curly Annabel (1907 - 1999).

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Littleton Official Delegation Leaders to Bega

Kenneth Coddington, March 2001
Kenneth Coddington, March 2001

Lebrun Hutchison, March 1996
Joan Wooldrige, April 1991
John Hubbs, April 1986
Dale Erickson, March 1981
Dick Lautenbach, March 1976
Lois Barker Maloney, February 1971
Harry Cole, March 1966
Houstoun Waring, February 1961

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A Tribute to Houstoun Waring and Curly Annabel

It was in 1951 when a film was made about a small town. A few years later on the other side of the equator and over 8,000 miles away the film was seen in another small town. The eighteen minute black-and-white film entitled, "Small Town Editor", was produced by the United States State Department. The small Colorado town of Littleton, 10 miles/16 kilometres south of Denver, was the setting. The story told was that of a newspaper editor, Houstoun Waring, his town and his work as editor of the Littleton Independent.

The film, translated into twenty-three languages and shown in over eighty countries around the world, told the story of the rural press and the people it served. When another editor, Curly Annabel, saw the film in his hometown, Bega, New South Wales, Australia he was struck by the similarity between the two communities and his role as the newspaper editor in Bega and that of Houstoun Waring's in Littleton. Curly, always a man of action, wrote a letter to Hous and a two-continent friendship began.

This friendship between the two editors led to a 1955 visit to Littleton by Curly. The correspondence between the two men continued over the next few years and in 1959 when President Dwight Eisenhower set up the sister city program Littleton and Bega seemed like a natural fit. Things moved quickly through the efforts of these two dedicated newspapermen and soon Bega and Littleton became the first U.S.A.-Australia sister cities.

It could all have ended there, but fortunately for us it did not. In February of 1961 Hous and Irene Waring were invited to attend Bega Days and their trip started an exchange of delegation visits between the two communities that has continued and flourished. In August of that same year Curly brought four Bega high-school students to visit Littleton.

The rest is history. Delegation exchange visits have continued with Bega delegations visiting on the third and eighth years and Littleton delegation visits taking place on the first and sixth years. The March 2001 Littleton delegation visit to Bega was the ninth delegation to have traveled "down under". In addition, over the past forty-plus yeas dozens of Littleton and Bega visitors have spent time with their friends in their sister cities.

The members of the Bega/Littleton Sister City Exchange (Littleton) and the Bega-Littleton Citizens' Exchange (Bega) are involved in this international experience because of a film about an editor, his newspaper and community and the efforts of two giants in their communities - Houstoun Waring 1901-1997 and W. B. (Curly) Annabel 1907-1999.

See Houstoun Waring Biography (at Littleton Government web site).

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Bega Official Delegation Leaders to Littleton

Phil McDonald, 2003
Phil McDonald, 2003

Edna Duncanson, August 1998
Edna Duncanson, 1998

Les Maley, 1993
Les Maley, 1993

Paul Windle, 1988
Ken Boyd, 1983
Dom Brady, 1978
Roy Howard, 1972
Roy Kothe, 1967
Curly Annabel, 1961

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Saga of Bega Rural Youth Travel Foundation

An ambitious plan that succeded

A group of no-nonsense Bega men, prominent in civic affairs, met one morning in the early 1950s at a point on the Princes Highway two miles south of Bega township.

The reason for being out of town on this particular day was not merely to view the captivating rural panorama, of which all were great lovers, but to observe and discuss the future of the 400 acres of nearby common land. For years, because of modern town milk supply and the advent of the motor car, the land in question was no longer required for the grazing of the town dweller's cow and/or horse.

On this historic occasion, the assembled men reached unanimous agreement that the Bega common could be put to better use than was the case at that time.

Committee Formed

The outcome was the formation of the "Bega Small Holdings Committee" which immediately set out to compile a practical plan for the future use of the common.

Only that portion of land east of the Princes Highway was taken into consideration for the re-structuring of its terms of use to include:

  • A Junior Farmer (now Rural Youth) holding of 80 acres;
  • A farm of 90 acres for a returned serviceman;
  • And the remainder to be divided into farmlets of 10 acres.
Direct approaches were made to the appropriate authorities to have the plan adopted, and after a period of persistence official approval was granted to the committee's proposal.

Having received control of 80 acres of easily accessible farmland, the Bega District Council of Junior Farmer Clubs lost little time in acquiring young cattle as part of a stocking programme.

Cattle Project Bonanza

The District Council's proposition to sell the cattle when they matured, hopefully on a seller's market, was accepted. Furthermore, it was decided to establish fodder crops and vegetable gardens as separate projects, and generally develop the farm as a Junior Farmers' centre for rural instruction, demonstrations and field days.

Here was a glittering ambitious dream that somehow or other overlooked a threatening infestation of rabbits and blackberries. Despite manful efforts and dedication by a sturdy band of voluntary workers, the task finally proved far too demanding as a part-time project. Therefore, an offer from the Bega High School to take over the land for the school's agricultural course was realistically accepted.

The young cattle in the meantime had become fully grown and brought the splendid sum of £2,000 at the Bega saleyards. Group Council president Fred Game, without delay, wisely deposited the money in the organisation's bank account.

Now the big question was "what satisfactory method could be devised to take full advantage of this magnificent windfall?"

Littleton was the Basis

District Supervisor, Peter Burgis, thought round the suggestion of a travel scholarship for a selected member of a district Junior Farmer club within the areas of the Imlay and Mumbulla Shires and the Municipality of Bega.

At the time, the Bega-Littleton (Colorado, U.S.A.) Exchange was attracting universal attention in the local communities, and it was this international partnership that provided the answer. A Group Council patron, W. B. "Curly" Annabel, the founder of the Exchange, put forward Littleton as a suitable host centre for selected Bega Valley Junior Farmer study travel awardees. Annabel agreed to make the necessary approach to Littleton, especially the 4-H (equivalent of Junior Farmer movement) officials of that city.

The Americans accepted the proposition with great enthusiasm.

A special Bega Travel Foundation committee was appointed and consisted of Annabel, who agreed to act as chairman until the organisation settled down, Arthur Chalmers, Peter Burgis, and Tim Collins, secretary.

The Meaning of 4-H

Like Junior Farmers, 4-H began in U.S. rural areas, but is now making a rapid transition by gearing programmes that are also suitable to boys and girls in the towns and cities.

The name and pledge remains unchanged.

The emblem is the four-leaf clover with an H on each leaf. These Hs stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

And the pledge explains the significance of the emblem:

I pledge

  • My Head to Clearer Thinking
  • My Heart to Greater Loyalty
  • My Hands to Larger Service
  • My Health to Better Living
  • My Club
  • My Community and
  • My Country.
What was aptly named the Bega Junior Farmer Travel Foundation resulted from many discussions under the expert counselling of Southern Area Supervisor of Junior Farmer Clubs, Arthur Chalmers.

Group Council Brainchild

This exciting and ambitious district entry into the complex field of international travel was the brainchild of the Bega Group Council of Junior Farmer Clubs, an adult advisory body to the clubs.

The Foundation, when formed, created its own piece of history, for it was the first award of such magnitude to be initiated and conducted by Junior Farmers on a local level.

Funding of the award came in three ways: The accrued interest from invested money raised through the sale of the defunct cattle project stock; money received from the Leadership Group's efforts; and membership fees (£10 every second year) contributed by district dairy co-operatives, show societies, local business houses, service clubs, banks and individual Junior Farmer supporters. The dividend came in the satisfaction of having assisted in broadening the education of the selected young community leader.

Over the years, due to increasing costs and changing conditions, have necessarily been amended, but the general format remains unaltered.

Original Scale of Points

The following scale of points was used to guide the judges in their judging of the first hopeful nominees:

Personal record of Junior Farmer activity -   35 points
Knowledge of:
Australian Affairs - 15
Overseas Affairs -   5
Agriculture - 15   30
J.F. Organisation - 10
J.F. Constitution -   5   15
Personality - 40
Speech - 30
Self Expression - 15
Deportment and
Interview Reaction
- 35120
TOTAL200 Points

Littleton Visit Obligation

Bega Foundation officials, fully conscious of the invaluable Colorado co-operation, laid down that the successful nominee had to spend at least a month in and around Littleton.

However, the Travel Fellow would be quite free to extend his travel arrangements at his own expense. Extensions came through official sources before the selection was made. The then Canadian High Commissioner to Canberra, Mr. Evan Gill, invited the Junior Farmer to attend a youth leadership camp, conducted by the University of Saskatchewan, at Indian Head, Canada. An invitation to visit National Young Farmer clubs in Britain came from the United High Commission, in Canbera.

Three leading Littleton identities, Harry D. Cole (Exchange Committee chairman), Floyd Shoemaker (Arapahoe 4-H County Agent), and Ralph Stewart (Littleton 4-H adviser), jointly issued a welcome to the 1963 Travel Fellow. Furthermore, the Americans were prepard to make similar arrangements every second year.

All invitations were enthusiastically received in Bega.

Dispute Over Age Limit

An early impediment to the acceptanceof 20-30 years age categories of contestants came from the New South Wales Council of Junior Farmers' Clubs. This came about when the State Organiser, W. Tearle, declared that the age limit had to be 25 years. The Group Council's honorary solicitor, Fred Le Poer Trench, after a close scrutiny of the Junior Farmer Clubs' Constitution, proved that the allowable limit was, indeed, 30 years.

Only formal acceptance of the entire Travel Foundation programme by the Group Council was then required, and granted at a well-attended meeting in September, 1962.

Patron W. H. Balmain said the proposition stimulated him, "for I can see only success for the Foundation."

Area Supervisor Arthur Chalmers believed the scheme could be organised. "It is a most thrilling idea, and there is no reason at all why it should not succeed," he added.

State Organiser Tearle announced that the State Executive commended the Group Council on its initiative in establishing the Foundation.

Original Foundation Subscribers

Although the numerical strength and financial soundness of the Foundation have increased since the vital initial contributions were made, the original, confident subscribers warrant recognition in this record.

This is the first list, published in 1963:

  • Pan American Airways
  • Bega Show Society
  • Bega Returned Services League
  • Rotary Club of Bega
  • Lions Club of Bega
  • South Wolumla Co-operative Society
  • Bega Co-operative Society
  • Kameruka Estates
  • Rural Bank of New South Wales
  • Bank of New South Wales
  • Commercial Banking Company of Sydney
  • W. H. Balmain
  • Noel P. Ford
  • Roy Howard & Co (Bega) Pty. Ltd.
  • Les Collins Estate
  • Bega District News

The First Nominations

Nine nominations for the award were recieved.

They came from:

  • Basil Alcock (Bemboka farmer)
  • Lindsay Alcock (Bemboka farmer)
  • Kay Brown (now Mrs. Colin Rogers, Bega receptionist)
  • Ian Cochrane (Bega farmer)
  • Roy Irvin (Moran's Crossing farmer)
  • Eric Johnston (Bega grazier)
  • Beth McNeil (now Mrs. Gordon Hudson, Bega schoolteacher)
  • David Odell (Bega schoolteacher)
  • Keith Underhill (Bega farmer)

Judges Appointed

The judges were:

  • Mrs. L. Bruce Steer (Bermagui South)
  • Fraser Parkes (A.B.C. Rural Officer, Canberra)
  • Noel Douglas (Rural Adviser, Bombala)
  • Arthur J. Chalmers (Area Supervisor, Southern Districts, Junior Farmer Clubs)
  • W. B. "Curly" Annabel (Editor-publisher Bega District News)
Junior Farmer District Supervisor, Peter Burgis, acted ex officio to the judging panel.

Pre-judging Dinner

Prior to the judging, all contestants, judges, invited guests and other interested persons (80 in all) attended a dinner in the Bega Commercial Hotel.

Group Council President, Colin Rogers, presided, and extended a special welcome to guest of honour, United States Information Officer Milton Chase.

Confidence in Foundation

President Colin said: "I feel sure that the people from Junior Farmer ranks will prove ideal ambassadors for their district.

"They are sure to return with agricultural knowledge and experience which they will pass on to the community and thus will compensate all who worked to establish the Foundation."

Mr. Chase told his dinner audience that the Foundation would make an important contribution to Australian-American friendship and understanding.

"It is vital that young people of our two countries get to know each other," he added.

Bega's Mayor, Ald. A. C. Anderson, congratulated all those individuals who had the initiative to create this splendid method of giving young people the opportunity to travel and study abroad.

"I hope that sufficient funds will be forthcoming to allow the Travel Fellow to continue round the world," Ald. Anderson said. (These hopes of Ald. Anderson have since been realised.)

Roy Irvin First Travel Fellow

Preliminary judging, conducted in the Bega Countrywomen's Association Rooms, on March 19, 1963, resulted in Basil Alcock, Ian Cochrane, Roy Irvin and David Odell being selected as finalists.

Tension and interest were high the following night in the same rooms when the four young men submitted themselves for the last gruelling session.

Each contestant was called on to deliver an address on a subject of his own choosing, a shorter address covering a topic drawn from others in a hat, and be interviewed by the judging panel.

At the conclusion of the probing inquisition, the judges were confronted by the enormous task of declaring a winner from the four capable, presentable young men.

History was made as Ald. Anderson clearly announced that the judges had made their decision, and Roy Irvin had the distinction of being the first Bega Valley Travel Fellow.

Winner was Overjoyed

Roy, unquestionably overjoyed by his success against formidable competition, said: "I had hoped, but really never quite expected to win when I considered the top class fellows who also dearly wished to win this magnificent award.

"But now it is mine. I must pay tribute to the Junior Farmer movement and members for their guidance and inspiration from which so much was learned by me.

"Without this assistance I certainly could not have won this tough competition.

"My Bemboka Club provided me with many opportunities for Junior Farmer work covering organisation and special competition.

"Without these things there would have been no travel fellowship for me.

"I think everybody concerned deserves my thanks, especially those people responsible for setting up the Travel Foundation.

"My one thought is to make every effort to justify the honour that is now mine."

Recognition in High Places

The formation of the Travel Foundation and the selection of the first Travel Fellow attracted unusual recognition in exceptionally high places.

During the two days of a "diplomatic" visit to Canberra, Roy was granted Important Australian Visitor's credentials, signed by Prime Minister Menzies.

Roy was received by the American Ambassador, Mr. William C. Battle; attended a reception in his honour at the residence of the Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Evan Gill; received at the United Kingdom High Commission; guest at the Australian National University for luncheon, organised by the Canberra chapter of the Australian-American Association; received by the director of the Australian News and Information Bureau (now Australian Information Service), Mr. Kevin Murphy.

Roy Irvin
American Ambassador to Canberra, Mr. William C. Battle (centre), welcomed the 1963 Travel Fellow Roy Irvin (right) in the Embassy. On the left is Basil Alcock, a candidate for the award, who travelled to America with Roy.

Roy departed Sydney, on June 30, 1963, for America, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe and back home by way of eastern countries. (Roy met the difference of the American return fare and round-the-world ticket from his own means.)

Impeccable Result

His "ambassadorial" performances abroad were impeccable, the result of which has been the unhesitating acceptance of succeeding Travel Fellows by our friends in Littleton, Canada, United Kingdom and other countries Roy visited.

The report this earnest, reliable young farmer compiled and presented on his return was a splendid, informative document.

He summed up: "From an educational point of view my trip was most successful.

"I have returned with many new ideas which I hope to employ on our family property at Moran's Crossing.

"It is my sincerest hope that what is done on our farm will prove successful and suitable for all farmers throughout the district."

While overseas for three months, Roy travelled and studied in America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Certainly the scene had been set for a solid Travel Foundation future.

Increased Interest

Over the years, interest in the Foundation and a growing appreciation of what it means to the youth of the district and ultimate benefit to Bega Valley life have steadily captured the public's imagination.

Furthermore, the experiance gained since 1963 has produced a smoother pattern of judging and a more sophisticated presentation of the competition before very substantial Bega Town Hall audiences.

Acting on the advice of the Foundation's chairman, Jack Goff, an intriguing over-the-table discussion feature among the candidates has been introduced.

As moderator of the session, Jack has succeeded remarkably well in encouraging the competing individuals to express themselves on a whole series of topics.

The final night of public judging has become a major public event in the Bega Valley and continues to attract ever-increasing crowds of Rural Youth members, the farming community and general public as thoroughly interested spectators.

Changes in Movement

Since the genesis of the Travel Foundation some changes have been wrought in the movement.

The name Junior Farmer has been displaced by Rural Youth, the District Council and Group Council systems, in turn, have gone and the Leadership Group is now the Senior Club.

It is through the Senior Club that the Travel Foundation remains a function of the Rural Youth organisation. This was brought about by the club accepting constitutional responsibility for the Foundation. The club elects its member representatives and invites a balancing number of former members and senior advisers to handle the necessary administration.

That all is still well and healthy with the Foundation is revealed by sixteen years of its uninterrupted activity and encouraging progress.

What must never be overlooked, however, is that the award, as it stands, could not have been started without the international goodwill and understanding of three Littleton men, Harry Cole, Floyd Shoemaker and Ralph Stewart.

Flourishing Friendship

The friendly, spontaneous acceptance of our nine Travel Fellows further exemplifies the great partnership that has flourished to significant prominence within our two communities.

Limited to Initial Phase

Readers are asked to understand that the purpose of this work was to record the details of events that were responsible for the creation of the Foundation and the selection of the first Travel Fellow.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to cover the selection of the other worthy awardees who, like Roy Irvin, have brought great credit to themselves and their country while travelling abroad.

If sufficient details of the remaining Foundation history are available it may be possible to produce an additional publication.

Bega, November 23, 1979

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Rural Youth Travel Fellows - Roll of Honour

Sherryn Phelan, 2003

Michael Rood, 2000
Michael Rood, 2000

Carolyn Cooper, 1995
Leon Garner, 1993
David Lucas, 1991
Leanne Wiley, 1989
Tony Lucas, 1987
Sharon Spence, 1985
Robert Burgess, 1983
Norm Pearce, 1981
Maxine Moffitt, 1979
Fergus McWhirter, 1977
David Wallis, 1975
Janice Moffitt, 1973
Alex Cochrane, 1971
John Zweirs, 1969
Margaret Sly, 1967
Lindsay Alcock, 1965
Roy Irvin, 1963

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9 Jan 2006