Interactors at the Parkes Peace Park
Burnt out Service Station in Batlow
Interactors at the "Dish" in Parkes
At the end of the NSW school holidays seventeen young people from Batlow visited Parkes and Dubbo. Most were members of Batlow Interact club. They were accompanied by four Rotarians. Interact clubs bring together young people aged 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self. Interact clubs help young people to connect with leaders in their community and around the world to:
  • take action to make a difference in their school and community
  • discover new cultures and promote international understanding
  • become a leader in their school and community
  • have fun and make new friends from around the world
The trip to Parkes was initiated by the president of Batlow Interact, Jack Gould. Jack had been trying to organise a weekend trip for club members to little avail until Parkes and some help from Parkes Rotarians made a trip possible. He met Ken Engsmyr, a Rotarian from Parkes and a member of District 9705’s bushfire recovery committee, when Ken and another committee member – John Mercer – visited the Batlow following the fires. Jack saw an excursion as a way for the Batlow group to be together for two days focussed just on enjoying a trip and each other’s company for a while.
The Interactors were all impacted by the summer bushfires that so severely damaged their small town in the South West Slopes region of New South Wales. Seventeen houses were lost along with several outlying properties. One firefighter died of a heart attack while assisting a friend defend his property. The town’s service station burnt down and gas bottles stored there exploded in the heat. Apple orchards and infrastructure were lost. For all that, it has been said that Batlow firefighters defended what seemed indefensible.

The group arrived in Parkes lunchtime Friday where they were split into two groups to comply with a NSW Public Heath Order that the number of participants in outdoor public gatherings had to be restricted to less than 20 people. One group were provided lunch at Lions Park by local Rotarians while the other group were shown the Rotary Peace Precinct below Memorial Hill. They swapped over after the first group had been fed.

Then a trip to the Parkes Radio Telescope, talks about astronomy and how the Dish was used to track the first landing on the Moon. Next Interact movie night at Batlow: The Dish!

In the evening the group was hosted by Jay and Natali Quince and their team of helpers at Engedi (Alectown) for a meal, some stargazing, bush poetry, a singalong around a campfire, and sleep.

Finally, Western Plains Zoo on Saturday before driving back to Batlow, arriving 10pm that night.

There was concern about the Coronavirus from the outset. A risk assessment was prepared and options for mitigating the risk identified. Participants’ temperatures were taken and recorded prior to setting out and during the trip; they were recorded in an attendance register and were monitored for any symptoms of concern. Hand sanitiser was made available and its regular use encouraged. This virus has not impacted regional NSW to any great extent, but the consequences if it invades are so serious we must all remain alert and take practical precautions.


Ken Engsmyr

Email: Phone: 0418 246 662