Ooranga Family Mobile Resource Unit invited locals to join in its 40th birthday celebrations this week.
The service launched its first van at a teddy bears' picnic in Vickery Park in Boggabri in 1979, so in memory of the momentous day, the anniversary fun started with a massive teddy bears' picnic on Thursday at Wolseley Park.
The event drew almost 200 children from Mary Ranken Child Care Centre, Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, Gunnedah Preschool, Gunnedah Family Day Care Centre, and GS Kidd Memorial School to name a few.
There were plenty of free activities including obstacle courses, DIY iced biscuits, face painting and craft.
On Friday, current and past Ooranga staff, committee members and special guests, including Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Minister for Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell, gathered in the CWA rooms for a high tea.
Ooranga's first president, Boggabri woman Noreen Boehm, who shared her memories of the service's beginnings.
She said she remembered being shown a photo of one of the first mobile resource units in the state - The Magic Yellow Bus in Central Western Sydney - and thinking "Wouldn't that be great?".
She said her eldest child was eight-months-old when she attended the region's first official meeting to start Ooranga.
"Who would have thought 40 years later this would be the outcome? What can I say other than, 'Wow, this is amazing'," Ms Boehm said.
"When we started Ooranga, we had grand plans; not only plans but hopes, wishes and dreams for our children, our grandchildren and the children and families in our local rural communities."
This program [is] one of the most loved and valued children services in the Gunnedah district.Noreen Boehm, first Ooranga president
She thanked supporters and her fellow lobbyists - "the visionaries of 40 years ago" - for their dedication in breaking new ground, and said Ooranga had "gone from strength to strength providing many more services and program than first planned".
"Thank you for having the vision and energy to start this wonderful service. I'm sure that you are all very proud of the legacy that we have left; I certainly am," she said.
"You have played a part in making this program one of the most loved and valued children services in the Gunnedah district.
"This is a service that offers a diversified system of education to meet the needs of locals while providing a critical learning and social space for children.
"They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I say, it takes an Ooranga Mobile Family Resource Unit to make the difference in their education, life and social skills."
Ms Boehm received the keys to the service's first van at the teddy bears' picnic and on Friday at the high tea, Mr Anderson and Minister Mitchell announced more than $21,000 funding for a new van.
The high tea was also an opportunity for locals to thumb through Ooranga's new cookbook.
The publication is a revision of the original published in 1983 - and while it includes more contemporary people and recipes, there are some old favourites, too.
Contributions from Playschool legend Noni Hazlehurst, Dame Edna Everage, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and even the Prince and Princess of Wales of the time, Charles and Diana, are sprinkled throughout.
After years of lobbying and applying for funding, the organisation finally broke through with a grant of $55,000 from the NSW Department of Youth and Community Services, making way for the purchase of a one-tonne van packed with toys and preschool equipment, a preschool teacher and a social worker.
People elected at the original meeting on November 29, 1979 were: Judy Paton, (Curlewis) Irene Ruttledge, (Carroll), Lindsay Mackay, (Mullaley), Wendy Barnett, (Premer) Janice Carrigan,(Boggabri), Betty Traynor, (Boggabri), Prue Walker, (Mullaley), Chris Hibbert, (Carroll), Beth Oldfield, (Tambar Springs), Noreen Boehm (Boggabri) and advisor Chris Smith.
They chose the name Ooranga - an Aboriginal word for "a gathering of children".
Based at Gunnedah, the unit initially travelled to Boggabri, Curlewis Carroll and Premer to provide play group and preschool activities.
Over the last four decades, Ooranga has expanded its preschool and playgroup sessions and opened a toy library in its premises at the CWA Rooms, becoming the largest stand-alone mobile preschool service in NSW.