Billy Flicker is a bit of a legend in Woolgoolga, always up for a chat and helping out around town. He is the bloke who volunteers his time to look after the town flags and change them regularly for events and not only participates in Woopi’s R U OK? Day events, but is genuinely interested in the wellbeing of the community. He has experienced first hand the warmth and support of his town and wants to continue to pay it forward by always being there for anyone in need.
Hey Billy. Tell us how long you have been a Woolgoolga local, and what brought you here?
Easily about 15 years, I’ve been here. I used to have cousins who owned the Strawberry Patch up the road, so I’d come and visit. I just loved the area. I grew up on the Central Coast, and it was very quiet; now it’s become like Sydney! When it started to get really busy down there, I came up here, and I thought, “This is the spot!” It’s not too hot, not too cold, and everyone is so friendly! If you were in trouble, you could ask half a dozen people for help, and guaranteed at least four would jump up to help!
From what I’ve been told, you’re the kind of guy who will always help anyone out. When some people would not, why is it that you always step up and help?
Anybody who wants help, I’ll step up. Years ago the van I was living in got burnt out down at Woopi Lake, and everybody rallied together and raised some money to help me out. In those few weeks, when I was really down in the dumps, I was lost, and the community stepped in to help.
Places like Bluebottles were giving me free coffees and some meals; so many people were helping me until I got back on my feet.
Even when I first arrived to visit here 20 years ago, it was just such a friendly town. If anybody needed help in any way, the community just did it; it was that old traditional behaviour of looking out for one another, and Woopi is still well known for it.
You man the flag pole in Woolgoolga; how did this come about?
About three years ago, I was going past the flag pole, and the Australian and Aboriginal flag both had their tails hanging off! I thought, “That’s not right”. So, I went to the Council chambers to see if they knew about the flags being in disrepair and after a brief conversation, I was handed the keys – and the rest is history.
What types of flags do you put up?
Most of the time it’s Australian flags, state flags, different groups, then occasionally there’s something in particular; like there was a local family whose daughter went over to live in Tanzania, then she was bringing her husband back earlier this year. Her parents gave me a Tanzanian flag to fly so that from the day they flew into Brisbane and for the duration of his stay, his flag flew. They were so stoked! And then, we sent him home with an Aboriginal flag.
Very rarely does the Australian flag come down; it will come down for NAIDOC week, and the Aboriginal flag will go up top.
So, how often do you change the flags over?
Normally once a week; a couple of times I’ve let it go a fortnight. If I haven’t felt like climbing the flag pole, I’ve let it go for another week! At different times I might be asked to fly the R U OK? flag for example, if there’s a particular event or a reason to want to get the community to rally together.
Woolgoogla has been a huge support for the R U OK? movement. What does it mean to you?
It means we are all willing to give support at any time. A simple gesture like asking someone if they are OK if you think they may be down, and actually sitting and listening and trying to help them out, can mean the world sometimes.
And if you can’t help them, you can point them in the right direction, because we are so lucky to have so many helpful people in our community.
I think that the R U OK? Day reflects what Woolgoolga is as a town, so it made sense that we would celebrate it like we have. On the day, I think I was asked to take about 50 selfies as I handed out flyers in my multicoloured mohawk, and it was so great to see the community come down and support the event.
What does the word “community” mean to you?
Love. You look after each other. Coming together in support when it’s needed.