‘The Middle of Nowhere but the Centre of Everywhere’ is an apt description of North Star, with a population 40 and community of 500.
North Star is a tiny town, off the beaten track, 50 kilometres south east of Goondiwindi over the New South Wales border. It is home to the North Star Sporting Club, established in 1976, and ‘built by the locals for the locals’. The current clubhouse was built in 1979. The club has always encompassed a wide range of sports including golf, tennis, bike trail riding, polo, horse cutting, camp drafting, show jumping and pony club, which dates back to 1953. These recreational pursuits have been enjoyed by generations of North Star locals. However, despite its central role in the community, the club’s future was in jeopardy less than 10 years ago, due to financial difficulty. North Star Sporting Club committee member Jeff Nixon remembers, “In 2008, there was a collective community decision to find a way to bring the club back from the brink of disaster. This coincided with the North Star Centenary of Wheat Celebrations, which created opportunities to raise funds to kick start the club’s revival.” Combined with the financial support provided by the North Star Trail Ride, the future of the club started to look brighter. The trail ride had begun in 2006, when a group of six enthusiastic local trail bike riders organised a weekend of adventure. Becoming part of the Dalby Moto Trail Ride Series, the number of riders increased by the hundreds each year. By 2008, it became evident that by continuing to draw interest from the broader community, this event could provide the greatly needed funds to help ensure the club’s economic security.
The North Star Trail Ride provides a unique and challenging course with riders coming from all over Australia. In July 2014, there will be an expected 1400 riders and more than 2500 people visiting North Star for the weekend. The free camping and facilities make it a family favourite. The trail ride covers 300 square kilometres over seven different properties, with difficult terrain including impossible rocky inclines. Experienced riders are challenged, but beginners and kids are also well catered for with dedicated pee wee and novice loops. The success of the trail ride relies on the help of many, and this is provided by the North Star and district community groups. What started as a simple weekend ride now draws hundreds of thousands of dollars into the North Star district and wider community.
This financial success has helped to sponsor club upgrades, including new sand golf greens, new ring fencing and new stables. North Star can now attract prestigious events including the annual North Star Show Jumping Classic. In August 2014, competitors will be vying for a $10,500 prize pool.
Working together, this tiny community has now cemented the future of the North Star Sporting Club. A hit of tennis or cool drink at the clubhouse can now continue to be a part of life for the North Star locals.
Words & Images by Mandie O’Shea | Images with horses by Jocelyn Cevill | Images with motor bikes by Jeff Nixon