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Colbo Nights

By ACMI , 2009 10:08 minutes

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This story takes place in Colbinabbin at football practice on a Thursday night and then at a gathering at the pub shortly thereafter. Bernie and Marion are the publicans, who introduce the local characters by their nicknames. Interviews with locals reveal a pride and love for their community. The atmosphere is one of a close-knit community that loves football, netball and live music and supports each other through good times and bad.

Collection Stories from Campaspe

What creates the links between individuals?

About Colbinabbin
Population: 120

Colbinabbin, said to mean ‘the meeting of the red and black soils’, is located approximately 60 kilometres from Echuca on the Bendigo–Murchison road. For many years, Colbinabbin has been known for its production of wheat, barley, oats, canola and tomatoes. In recent years, the area has attracted national and international interest from wine grape growers and winemakers.

The Colbinabbin Range, overlooking the township, is renowned for its ancient Cambrian soils that produce well-regarded and award-winning Shiraz grapes, providing opportunities for new investment and value-adding activities, particularly in tourism and hospitality. The town’s recreation reserve caters for many sports, including football, netball, bowls, cricket, and is also home to the local swimming pool.

Explore the relationship between large cities and small country towns.

Explore concepts related to the sustainability of country towns, considering in particular:

  • Shifts in population
  • The effect of the global economy
  • The ageing population
  • Generational lineage in country towns

The Colbinabbin community

One of the locals proudly describes Colbinabbin as “the greatest community in central Victoria”.

  • What do you understand by the word ‘community’?
  • What makes a community ‘great’?

The locals frequently use words like ‘involvement’ and ‘support’ in their descriptions of the town’s community.

  • Give examples of the residents’ ‘involvement’ with the community.
  • Give examples of how the residents ‘support’ each other.
  • Reflect on your own communities (school, clubs, extended family and so on) and identify the ways in which members of each of these communities involve themselves and support each other.

This involvement and support is often referred to as ‘community spirit’.

  • Can you identify this community spirit in your own community/communities? How is it expressed?
  • How is community spirit established and sustained?
  • What happens if a community loses this spirit?
  • Does community spirit like we see in Colbinabbin exist in big cities? Explain why or why not.


Bernie and Marion make the comment that no-one has a normal name in Colbinabbin – everyone is known by a nickname.

  • Watch Colbo Nights and list all the nicknames that are used.
  • Are there features that are common to all these nicknames? What are they?
  • Do you and your friends have nicknames? How did you get them?
  • Who gave you your nickname? Do you have more than one? Do you like it?
  • Who can use your nickname and who can’t? Explain why.

Nicknames are very prevalent in Australia.

  • Why do we call someone with red hair ‘Blue’?
  • Why do we call someone big ‘Tiny’?
  • In Australia we often shorten people’s names or add ‘ie’ or ‘o’ to the end. For example, Robert becomes Rob or maybe Bert, Bertie or Robbo. Why do you think we do this?
  • Some people think it is very Australian to use nicknames. What is it about the typical Australian character that enjoys the use of nicknames so much?


“Sport is huge in Colbinabbin – especially football,” says one resident.

  • Why do you think football, and to a lesser degree netball, is so important in Colbinabbin?
  • Do you think this is unique to Colbinabbin or is it found in other types of communities?
  • What sports do you and your friends play? Do these sports involve many other members of the community? What support do they provide?