Many readers were surprised by a photo published in The Wombat Post two weeks ago of our new mayor, Lesley Hewitt with the Hepburn Shire Town Crier. Does Hepburn really have a Town Crier?
The Shire’s Town Crier is Philip Greenbank, a Creswick resident. The WP recently interviewed Philip over coffee at Le Péché Gourmand in Albert Street, Creswick.
Philip has been a Town Crier since 2014 when he encountered a Crier contest at the Scottish Heritage Day in Dandenong. Philip is a self-described traditionalist, and the Crier role piqued his interest. He joined the Australasian Guild of Town Criers and was appointed by the Guild as Town Crier for Creswick. He later met Don Henderson, Councillor for Creswick, who was at the time Mayor of Hepburn Shire. Cr Henderson proposed to Council that Philip be appointed Town Crier for the Shire, an appointment which was made in 2017. Philip has since become the President of the Australasian Guild of Town Criers.
Town Criers are known for their elaborate dress and items of apparel are often passed from one crier to the next. Philip’s outfit is based on the traditional coachman’s dress of the 18th century. His embroidered blue jacket was custom made but his frilled shirt was a gift from famed former City of Ballarat Town Crier, Brian Whykes. His black vest, Tricorn hat and bell were bequeathed to him from the late Melbourne Town Crier, Neville Stonehouse.
Philip worked for many years in the TAFE Development Unit of Federation University but now works part-time for the NDIA as he transitions to retirement. But that retirement is likely to engage him fully. Philip is involved in a range of community activities. He is a member of the Creswick CFA where he runs the CFA Fire Safe Kids program in the Primary schools. He is a member of the Wendouree Archery Club and has a particular interest in the longbow. He is involved with the Ballarat Observatory where he regularly conducts tours of the observatory and telescope viewings.
There are about 60 Town Criers in Australia and about 600 worldwide. They officiate at community events and hone their skills at local, national and international competitions. In competition, criers are ranked according to the aggregate score of two crys between 100 and 125 words, which are judged on the basis of volume, clarity, diction, inflection, accuracy (to their text) and confidence and bearing.
The WP attended the Creswick Christmas Town Crier competition last weekend. Although normally held out of doors, the competition was moved indoors to the Creswick-Smeaton RSL Hall because of inclement weather. Overall competition winner was Hedley Thompson, the City of Ballarat Town Crier. Judy Campbell, Town Crier for Campaspe-Murry River was judged the content winner.
Town Criers do not charge for officiating at community events but may charge a fee for private functions or promotions. If you would like Philip to attend a community event, he can be contacted through the Shire office.