COLUMN | A nostalgic columnist

OUR RICH COMMUNITY: A few of the images I snapped on Saturday... a big congrats to the organisers for trying to think of new ways to keep this old event fresh... but it needs our own feet on the ground too.
OUR RICH COMMUNITY: A few of the images I snapped on Saturday... a big congrats to the organisers for trying to think of new ways to keep this old event fresh... but it needs our own feet on the ground too.

How many Fisher's Ghost parades have you been to?

For me, I think it's between 40 and 45.

But this year's parade felt a bit more nostalgic because I knew it was going to be my last. Well, at least the last one with me photographing it for the Advertiser.

My contributions to the Advertiser will cease next month, ending my long connection to this grand old masthead that goes way back to 1983 when my very first story was bashed out on a typewriter. Remember them? Clang, clang, clang.

It also means the end of this weekly opinion column.

I'm thankful for the good run I had.

Fact is, I retired as editor in 2015. I later returned in a different role - as a contributor writing From The Sidelines for a year. That one year, amazingly, turned into four years.

This newspaper now has different owners who are faced with a very challenging media landscape amid the IT revolution that is changing our world. My time is up in December. I'll say goodbye to you all properly then.

Back to the festival ...

I just wanted to praise Campbelltown Council for trying a few new ideas with the Fisher's Ghost parade which, let's face it, began in 1956 and is therefore no longer a spring chicken.

The easiest thing in the world to do is sit around complaining and whingeing about perceived shortcomings with a six-decade-old festival. It's a lot harder to put your hand up and suggest or work on changes.

The council experimented recently with evening parades (which I wasn't sold on at first, but really liked).

This year, we were back to afternoon - but a definite improvement was having the official speeches, Welcome to Country ceremony, national anthem, etc, in the middle of the CBD at Lithgow Street mall - where the crowds are actually gathered.

Far better than the usual spectacle of officially opening the parade near the Court House in front of a largely empty streetscape.

It all seemed to go off OK ... but is it just me or were the crowds were down a bit from usual? It was a smoky day, and quite hot, so well done to all those who did show up.

I do love seeing the youngsters all dressed up and having fun, because I remember the thrill of marching in the parade myself as a kid in the 1970s, and sometimes I think it's easy for us grown-ups to get too cynical or critical, and it's important to sometimes try to see things through the magical eyes of a kid.

Indeed, we have so many excellent community events in Macarthur, and in my time on the Advertiser I've been to them all - from Thirlmere Steam Festival and Camden's Paws in the Park to Campbelltown's Challenge Walk. I urge you all to turn up at some of our local events.

More importantly, turn up to the ones you wouldn't normally turn up at.

Stretch your perceptions.

I'm often amazed how many locals will flock to Anzac Day ceremonies in April (as they should) - but wouldn't think of attending the Appin Massacre Memorial Service in the same month. All aspects of our history are important - and the Appin event is very inclusive, dignified and welcoming.

The next round of commemorations, in 2020, will put Campbelltown in the spotlight as it marks two centuries since Governor Lachlan Macquarie stood on the site of today's Mawson Park and declared the foundation of the township.

Hope to see you around as a fellow spectator.