24 April, 2023
Labour of love as Royal Show’s ‘living mural’ showcases district’s produce
They’re a traditional exhibition that are a highlight for any visitor to the Sydney Royal, and the local contribution to the district’s ‘living mural’ entry at the show, was again top-notch.
While the Western District Exhibit may not
have come home with first place, the contribution
from local farming families to the display,
goes well beyond the worth of a ribbon.
For more than 100 years, the Sydney Royal
Easter Show has been highlighting regional produce
from various districts in the form of living
Starting with different shows invited to attend
to set-up a display, the exhibits then merged into
five main areas of NSW and Queensland comprising
of Southern NSW, Western NSW,
Northern NSW, Central NSW, and South-West
“You might have had Gilgandra, Coffs
Harbour, and Bourke invited to put-together a bit
of a showcase of the produce of the area, but now
we have these five main districts,” local Alan
Smith said in explaining the unique history of
Mr Smith has been involved with the district
displays at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for
almost 30 years, and takes great pride in our
region’s entry. The living mural is created with
produce direct from the region it represents, and
each individual item is judged before being
placed in the exhibition, he explained.
“Anything from merino wool, crossbred
wool, certain types of grain, oil seeds, preserved
fruits and veggies, jams, jellies, honey, honeycomb,
chutneys, wine, ham, bacon, cheeses,
oranges, lemons, apples, cabbages, cauliflower,
rockmelons, watermelons, salad vegetables, miscellaneous
fruits like figs, avocados, berries,
everything you can think of,” he said.
“There’s about 100 different classes of produce,
and they are judged on their own individual
quality,” he added. He said that it is here that
the real time-consuming creativity, occurs.
“Then, all that produce is used to assemble a
large, living mural. So, it’s about about 10 days’
worth of work, leading up to the show,” he said.
He added that Gilgandra has had its fair-share
of contributions to the exhibit over the years, the
2023 entry, included.
This year, the Kilby and Pagan families provided
prize-winning grain to be exhibited, as
well as different grasses from Mr Smith’s farm. The local Chandler family have also been
known for their chaff in previous years, as well
as plenty of other produce and grain from other
families down the line.
This year’s exhibit
theme was all about bees, Mr Smith explained.
“Bees and bee-keeping, ‘Nurture our bees for
the sake of our planet’, the wall reads,” he said.
Mr Smith added that, after the exhibition has
been put-together, the display is judged on the
morning of the first show day.
While the Western NSW district did not take
home first prize for either the display or produce
this year, they were awarded third-place for display,
and fourth-place for the produce competition.
“With all the floods and rain upon rain, the
western district’s produce was just not as great as
it usually is,” Margaret Windeyer — a local
teacher who has been involved with the design of
the Western District display for many years —
“You can tell looking at this year’s displays,
the impact floods have had on produce,” she
We had a lot of our pumpkins floating down
the rivers, but places like South-West
Queensland and Southern NSW were okay, the
ones with much more produce on show,” she
Once the display is together and judged,
the people who worked on them put on their best
shirts and stand out the front to speak to the public.
Some sell produce if it’s available, others just
chat to the passers-by.
“There’s obviously a lot of Sydney-based
people who are inspired by what we do in these
displays,” Mr Smith said.
“They ask us questions, things like ‘are the
big stock pumpkins real’, ‘where do you grow
all these things’, most people just assume milk
comes from a supermarket, but you have to
realise milk and cheese come from a farm somewhere,”
The displays are a labour of love for the district
from which the produce is derived, he
The district displays were all vastly different
this year, each representing the outlook
from the previous year’s harvest.
Display themes ranged from farmers working
round the clock, to the dogs that we couldn’t live
“A huge amount of work is involved in it, and
the average member of public don’t realise the
long history of the district exhibits.
“People from all corners of the tate are involved, and we only get together once a year, so there’s a bit of camaraderie and a bit of good competition, a few practical jokes over the years. It’s a pretty good team of people we work with,” Mr Smith smiled.