Sydneysiders are flowing into Quirindi for a full weekend of sister city activities.
The railway station was buzzing with activity on Friday afternoon as locals welcomed almost a delegation of almost 200 people from Blacktown City, including high school students, youth leaders, athletics, councillors, council staff and performers. Among them are representatives from Korea and New Zealand.
Two busloads of students and teachers from Blacktown’s Chifley College, Mitchell High School and Plumpton High School arrived ahead of those travelling by rail.
The train was carrying two carriage-loads of the delegation and broke down in Aberdeen, pushing back the start time of the official welcome.
Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s tourism manager Nikki Robertson has been working with Blacktown City Council’s sister city coordinators Gordon Allen and Greg McCallum for some months to prepare three days of activities including the Sister City Youth Games, International Youth Connect Forum, Hangi in the Country and children’s concert.
Ahead of the delegation’s arrival on Friday afternoon, Ms Robertson told Fairfax Media that it was all coming together.
“It’s going to be so diverse and colourful,” she said.
“We’ve tripled our visitors this year from last year.”
We see the importance of a relationship between sister cities and it’s important for our city students to see how rural students live.Elena Marinis, Mitchell High School
Ms Robertson said there was “more of a youth focus” for the annual sister city events this year, with charity youth organisation Rap 4 Change visiting schools in Quirindi and Walhallow to run workshops ahead of the weekend.
Mitchell High School principal Elena Marinis accompanied 23 students to Quirindi on Friday and said the sister city relationship provided a good learning opportunity for the youth.
“We see the importance of a relationship between sister cities and it’s important for our city students to see how rural students live,” Ms Marinis said.
“It’s about building bridges and friendships.”
Fellow principal Tim Lloyd from Plumpton High School accompanied 23 students to Quirindi and said it was the school’s “first experience” with its sister city.
“It’s a good cultural immersion opportunity for our kids and learning about different people in different contexts allows them to broaden their horizons,” he said.
Ms Robertson said Blacktown had been a great support during the drought and the weekend was a way to not only come together as sister cities but also to thank the community for what it had done.
“It’s awareness, it’s friendship. We can learn from each other,” she said.
“There’s so much scope for what we can do together.”