Current Bellingen Show president Ted Greenwood sees the show as an event that “links the old and the new.” The challenge is producing a show that “honours the older members of our community” while appealing to the changing demographic of Bellingen. Hence, the aim of the current organising committee was “to create a sustainable, inclusive community event which reflects the past, celebrates the present and looks to the future.” “Engaging, entertaining, and educating the community about the rural history of the shire, celebrating the diversity of the areas flora, fauna and cultural heritage and creating a vision of a sustainable future for the region, can achieve this,” says Ted. Over the last few years the show has introduced a number of new events and increased the amount of free entertainment available. “We now have celebrity cooking demonstrations, a mongrel dog show, a young farmers challenge (watch this space for changes in 2017), a partner carrying competition and Saturday night entertainment,” says Ted. The re-introduction of the shop-front display competition and the Grand Parade ensures greater inclusiveness. “We are also providing a wider variety of entertainment, reflecting the multi-cultural nature of the area,” says Ted. “The wonderful show committee have worked tirelessly to produce a show with something for everyone.”
Ted is passionate about community. “Wherever you are it is the community that matters,” says Ted. However, his drive to get the job done is possibly his greatest motivator and best explains his level of community involvement. “If you see something that needs doing and you have the skills to do it, it behooves you to do it.” Subsequently, Ted has been involved in countless community groups here in Bellingen including the Bellingen Chamber of Commerce, The Bellingen Jazz Society, the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life and is currently volunteering with the RFS in Hydes Creek.
Ted’s life has been full of exciting adventures and re-incarnations. “I just can’t help seeing opportunities,” explains Ted. Ted’s working life started as a Qantas engineer. “I switched to being a Qantas Flight Attendant, it was so much more glamorous.” Ted loved the travel and remained with Qantas for 15 years, until the opportunity arose to renovate a beautiful old building in Katoomba. He set about creating ‘Kurrara’, a stunning ten-bedroom guesthouse. “After staying in so many hotels all over the world, I knew what worked,” says Ted. Life in the Blue Mountains was full of opportunity. While running the guesthouse, Ted opened a café in Leura and an antique centre in Blackheath, with no previous experience, just a passion for embracing new challenges. “I love good food and antiques,” explains Ted. “Plus my girlfriend at the time could cook.” “Selling antiques was about spinning a story. If the customer is asking about a table, it was my job to tell the story that would attach that table to their lives. The customer always left happy.”
It was during his years in the Blue Mountains that Ted developed his love of community involvement. He was involved with the Blue Mountains Tourism Board, the Blue Mountains Rhododendron Society and was president of the Blackheath Chamber of Commerce. He was integral in the creation of ‘The Blue Mountains Cookbook’ with contributions from the many chefs in the region and the ‘Blue Mountains Fine Food Festival’, 18 food events over 14 days. “We had organized a chef and table on the top of the second ‘Sister’ for one lucky couple. A helicopter was going to capture the event on film from above. Unfortunately rain got in our way.” Just don’t tell Ted “it can’t be done.”
Ted volunteered at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. This was when he first noticed the 6 metre high Kewpie Dolls that were part of the Opening Ceremony. Ted’s spontaneous, challenge driven, “never say die” nature led to his purchasing his very own Kewpie Doll at the post Olympics’ auction. He does admit that the logistics of transporting a 6 metre high, 4 metre wide doll on its own trolley has had its challenges. However, seeing ‘Lulu’ lead the Rhododendron Festival parade through the streets of Blackheath made it all worthwhile.
It was this same passion for new challenges that brought Ted to Bellingen. He was driving south in 2001 when he visited Bellingen and was taken by the beauty of the Hammond and Wheatley Building. There was a ‘For Lease’ sign on the old ‘Carriageway’ Restaurant. Within a week Ted had the lease secured and was heading back to the Mountains to commence the arduous task of severing ties to his many business and charity involvements. Six months later the Carriageway Restaurant had been renovated and Ted, with his partner Rowena, her two children and ‘Lulu’ were ‘Bellingen locals’.
Fifteen years later there have been many re-inventions on the career front and several home moves. Ted does acknowledge that he could probably “slow down, but probably won’t.” He is currently renovating a farmhouse on 100 acres, surrounded by several thousand acres of state forest. He is very excited about the Bellingen Show next weekend, albeit a bit disappointed that the committee have politely suggested that he take a break from his MC duties at the Bellingen Solar Grand Parade this year. “Although I can usually talk underwater, I have to admit that I can barely tell the difference between a Jersey cow and an Angus bull (yes, I even missed the most obvious difference).”
As we continue to chat Ted confides in me about several ideas he has for energising the business and arts communities of the Bellingen Shire. My guess is that Ted isn’t stopping any time soon. Well done!