The Winter Solstice has been celebrated worldwide for thousands of years and across many cultures, but for Bungendore residents it’s a time to come together around the fire, share stories, have a few drinks and celebrate a wonderful community.
The town’s annual Biggest Bonfire will light up at 6.30 pm on 25 June and everyone is invited to farewell winter and celebrate the path towards longer, warmer days.
Townsfolk are already gathering wood and building the two-storey-high tower, which the Rural Fire Service will light on the grounds of the Bungendore Bowling Club.
Club volunteer and Queanbeyan-Palerang Councillor Edwina Webster says the bonfire has become an annual tradition in the town and brings the community together.
“It started with farmers lighting bonfires on their properties many, many years ago and then progressed to one huge bonfire to celebrate the end of winter and the start of a prosperous spring and summer on the land,” she said.
“It’s turned into a fantastic community party where families bring blankets and chairs and sit around the fire.
“We listen to music, chat, dance and have a few drinks – it’s a good old fashioned country celebration and an excuse for everyone to get together and have a good time.”
Edwina said the bonfire is being constructed with donations of clean wood under the watchful eye of RFS volunteers who will ignite the fire at 6.30 pm sharp. Donations can be delivered from 11 am to 4 pm Wednesdays and Fridays and 4 pm to 6 pm Saturdays and Sundays.
“It’s a real spectacle when it goes up,” she said. “The flames are huge and everyone cheers and claps.”
Once the fire dies down, everyone can pull up a chair, enjoy some hot food from local community vendors and, of course, the bowling club bar will be open till around midnight.
The Bungendore Bowling Club is a not-for-profit organisation run by six volunteers. The greens are also maintained by volunteer greenkeepers.
Edwina says the community “gets right behind” the club and this is a way to give back.
The bonfire night is a fundraising event for RFS units in the region and also a training opportunity for members.
Previous events have attracted around 800 people and Edwina is expecting another fantastic turn-out, particularly after the COVID lockdowns.
“It will be a chance for people to re-connect, meet new residents and for local families to spend time together,” she said.
“It’s a really good family night and that’s what our community club is all about.”
Party-goers should rug up and arrive by 5.30 pm to secure a good spot. They can bring their own food, but BYO alcohol is not permitted.