The joys of living in a small community 83



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I’m sure Yarram is much the same sort of small town as a thousand others around the country, all doing it a little bit hard at the moment due to the political and economic situation, but keeping their heads high, their wheels turning and their spirits up!

One of the main features of a town with a population of perhaps two thousand or thereabouts is the strength of the community spirit; the life-blood that keeps the place alive during good times or bad.

When we lived in Melbourne, we hardly knew the names of our immediate neighbours. We had no idea where the local Lions Club was (or even if one existed). The nearest pub was a couple of kilometres away, as was the ‘local’ church – and we had to be very careful to lock up the house even, if we were only popping out to the local shops, for fear of burglary. In fact, fear was one of the major (if sublimated) thoughts on everyone’s mind. Not only of burglary, but many other factors common in a city environment. While I’m sure a lot of them were purely in the mind of the individual, they nonetheless had to be taken into consideration!

But when we moved to Yarram, some two hundred kilometres south-east of Melbourne, we instantly noticed the completely different way of life in a small town. Virtually everyone knew everyone else for a start, and we weren’t excluded either. Within a week of our arrival I was invited to join the local Lions Club; something which immediately gave Jacqui and I 23 new friends, plus another twenty three through the wives of the members.

This initial group of friends very quickly expanded, because we got to know the friends of Lions at various events. This led on to a third layer as we met friends of friends, virtually all of them very willing to include we newcomers into their midst.

The town wouldn’t exist without a mass of volunteers to help keep the place going, and we quickly discovered that many of our new friends were already involved in various activities of that nature. Some got involved through membership of service clubs like Lions and Rotary, some through the Churches in the town, and a others working at the hospital and nursing home. Then there is the Red Cross, the SES, CFA, Freemasons, the Men’s Shed, the Countrywomen’s Association, the Agricultural Society and many others, all providing something to suite the requirements of one group or another around the town.

Then there are the various festivities, popping up annually and enjoyed by the whole town, as well as the many visitors who come to Yarram especially to join in the fun (with the added benefit that they bring very useful new cash into the district!).

Yarram’s Tarra Festival is a good case in point; it happens every year for a three-day period over the Easter break. It includes a Rotary exhibition of paintings (offering over three thousand dollars in prizes), a major street parade on the Saturday, and all sorts of other exhibitions and shows at nearly every available venue in the town: ‘Pancakes in the Park’ on Sunday morning, a Monday Market that usually completely circles the Recreation Ground, and several sporting events as well. About ten thousand people visit Yarram over the period of the Festival, boosting the coffers of the town, while having a good time.

Then there’s the Agricultural Show, which has been running in Yarram for a hundred years or more. While only a one day event, it attracts farmers from a wide range of territory, where they can show off their animals, the quality of their wool and the wonderful cooks their wives are!

These shows are very popular throughout Australia, and they help to increase understanding between country folk and the ‘townies’ who come to see what’s going on. The kids love it too, because there is usually an area where they can play with young animals.

Life is much easier paced out here in the ‘sticks’ and I think Jacqui and I will be quite happy to enjoy our final years here, away from the rat-race and with good friends, most of them just as old as us!

Have you experienced the peace and community spirit of rural life?

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Brian Lee

  1. Born, bred and brought up a family in many small country Victorian towns over the years, but now live right in the centre of the city in Melbourne and love it.

  2. Love small country towns and often go for a drive for a few days and stay a couple of nights wherever it takes my fancy, recently I went for a drive for a few days and stayed firstly at “Nanango”, what a wonderful town and not hard to meet people, after twenty minutes in one of the local hotel bars I had been introduced to all in there. I then went on to “Biggenden” a very small town with some of the nicest characters you could ever meet, I think I met everybody in the town in three days. Next was “Gayndah”, stayed in a Hotel-Motel there and again was accepted as one of the locals. You may ask why I don’t live in a country town, well as a pensioner I did find that the cost of food was much more expensive, especially fruit and vegetables and as I have some medical problems need to be near the bigger city hospitals. I currently live in “Cleveland” a suburb of “Redland City”, it has a bit of a country feel and very friendly people. Who knows, maybe one day I will make the move.

    3 REPLY
    • The pic is the drive through bottle shop at the “Orange Hotel-Motel” in Gayndah, great pub, great food and great staff, who could ask for more.

    • Owen, please come and visit Toogoolawah. I moved from Redcliffe to this little town, and I love it! Everyone is friendly. If I go into town, I have so many chats. I cannot tell you how wonderful this town is. If you come here, you can stay for free in your camper van, stay in one of the pubs, or camp at the Showgrounds for a small fee, and showers and toilets. Visit the Coach House Cafe for the best carrot cake in the world. You can have a hot lunch at a pub for $6. Look for me in the Cafe. I am nearly always knitting. Hope we meet you one day. (Oh, we have the best country market, too! Second Sat morning each month.)

    • Chris N Hilary Mills I have been through Toogoolawah many times and always stop there for refreshments, I have probably had the carrot cake there and yes, for sure next time i come through I will call in and say g’day.

  3. I live in a small NZ country town after living most of my life in cities. Wouldn’t change life now for the world. I guess though as we age we need to be close to essential services so a small town like mine with those services here or nearby is perfect 🙂

  4. Sounds Idyllic Brian! We in the Blue Mountains are lucky because each little suburb is village like and we have a lot of bush around us,which gives an air of country. However,true country like you have is what I call ” true” Australia. It’s where most of the “good old fashioned” values still flourish. Everybody greets one another and they look out for each other. There is an openness about people. It’s great that you have found this beautiful spot to call your forever home. Plus I’m sure they are very happy to have two such caring contributing members added to their community.

  5. Totally agree. The only reason for leaving will be because we have to get closer to the essential services only available in the city a hundred miles away.
    I have been working away (No jobs locally) for several years now and many people, including business people, ask my wife how I’m going, when will I be home etc only an almost weekly basis. They aren’t trying to interfere, they are just keeping an eye out for her and myself.
    We always know when a person from the city buys a local business (news agency, bakery fish and chip shop etc) because they don’t have this same empathy.
    Within weeks these people start complaining that business isn’t improving as fast as they would like. How could it in a small town with little increase in population over a decade?
    Then there are the natural disasters that cause many people to move to where the work is and they take a lot of replacing in the local population.

  6. We live in a small South Australian town and I can’t imagine moving back to a city. There are down sides though particularly medical care. We have private insurance and take ourselves down to Adelaide for specialist visits and surgery. All procedures are done and recovered from weeks before we would have even seen the visiting specialist as a first step at the local hospital as a public patient.

    2 REPLY
    • Well done. I’m moving from madness in Queensland back to Port Augusta soon and loving the thought of it..!!

  7. Find city living more friendly .live in a country town to clicky and if you not born here you not a local .lol .

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