Two small-town editors, continents apart, reached half way around the world in 1961 to join Littleton, Colorado, and Bega, Australia, as sister cities in the "Firm and Lasting Friendship" that their motto proclaims. Down under, Walter Bruce (Curly) Annabel happened to see the American State Department film, "Small Town Editor," which featured Littleton's own Houstoun Waring. Struck by the similarity between the two towns and their newspapers, he contacted Waring.
|Bega Park, 2015. Photo by Amelia Martinez.|
What resulted has been an exchange of visits, information, goodwill, gifts, pen pals, and even stamp albums. The Bega-Littleton Citizens' Exchange alternate visits with each other's country every five years, at the two-and-one-half year interval, and stay with host families. Beganites usually plan their trip to coincide with our Western Welcome Week, and our folks visit them in our spring (their fall.) The Littleton group marches in the annual Western Welcome Week parade and holds special events to raise money for the official delegates' transportation from Bega to Colorado.
In Littleton, the former Rio Grande Park just west of the railroad right-of-way on Main Street has been renamed Bega Park, redeveloped and landscaped. Its center piece is a James Mann fountain which shows a map of the United States, Pacific Ocean, and Australia, with the two sister cities marked by bronze stars. Bega has its Littleton Gardens and Littleton House, a former mayor's residence which is now the home of Bega Technical College. They also erected in 1975 a monument made from a large granite block obtained from Tarranganda and fashioned into a goodwill symbol. It sits near a fountain next to the gardens. The two cities each have identical plaques showing the profiles of Waring and Annabel. The artist was Georg Stanescu. Littleton dedicated its sculpture in 1983 and presented a duplicate to Bega in 1986.
Other goodwill relationships have been forged by the Rotary and Lions Clubs of both cities, the art guilds, chambers of commerce, and school children. Over the years, many persons have returned unofficially to visit friends.
Littleton has learned that Bega, in New South Wales, is near the beautiful beaches of the South Pacific, and ice and snow are almost unknown. It is dairy, cheese, and sheep country. Naturally, their main industries are agriculture and tourism. It has some of the most picturesque mountain and coastal scenery in Australia.
When the sister city program began, each was a small town. Bega remains largely what it was--center of a rich dairy industry with a population of 4,141 (in 2016). Littleton has become a boom town. At first glance a stranger might see little in common now between the two. On closer inspection he will see that the big thing Littleton and Bega have in common is the friendship of a lot of people. To make a good impression, pronounce their city's name: BEE-ga.
Littleton Edwin A. Bemis Public Library. Vertical File: "Littleton File: Bega Sister City Program."
Littleton (Colo.) Independent. Littleton, Colo.: Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888- .
Littleton Museum. Vertical File: "Bega, Australia."
Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.
Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse
Updated April 2021 by Phyllis Larison