I’m beginning to think our little town is fairly unique. Alright, I know there’s no such thing as “fairly unique”, it’s either unique or it’s not, like being pregnant or not, you can’t be a bit pregnant! But I’m sure you get my meaning. Anyway….
You see, our town, stuck way out in the middle of Gippsland, with a population that hovers around two thousand people (depending on how well the local boys have been getting along with the local girls), is more well served than many a town several times the size of ours. For a start, we can boast five banks – no kidding, we have a CBA, an NAB, a Bendigo, an ANZ and a Westpac; too many you might think for a town of two thousand people (that would average about four hundred customers per bank, not a lot to make a living from)! Of course, these banks also serve the surrounding countryside, farms mainly, but not another decent sized town for about 50km. I reckon this represents an unusually large collection of financial institutions for such a rural area – there must be money around here somewhere!
But that is far from being the only thing that makes the town unusual. We can also claim two car showrooms, selling new vehicles as well as second hand, two successful hardware stores (Mitre10 and Home Hardware), two pharmacies, five coffee shop/cafes and two real estate agents. Two fish ‘n’ chip shops vie for our custom, as do two very healthy pubs, neither of which relies on the dreaded ‘Pokies’ for their success and to complete the set, there are also two supermarkets, a Woolworths and a Foodworks.
You want entertainment? We have the historic Regent Theatre, used for all manner of entertainments, from funerals to films, plays to presentations. Then there’s a recreation ground supporting several footy teams, netball clubs and cricket games; a small but successful art gallery; numerous clubs and societies such as Lions, Rotary and Red Cross, plus the Country Club – providing bistro food, pokies, tennis, bowls and poker. On the outskirts of the town is the eighteen-hole golf club, supposed to be one of the best member-operated courses in Australia! Top it all off with a beach ninety miles long, good fishing and some terrific scenery and I think you’d have to agree, we’re pretty lucky.
The downside of isolation means that although there is a large Medical Centre in the town, patients have to travel at least 60km for specialist treatment. Stock may be more limited in the locally owned shops (no whole aisles dedicated to just sauces, etc.); public transport here means three buses a day to anywhere and there aren’t that many opportunities for young people here, who often have to go to Melbourne for work. The average age of residents must be in the 50s at least, many of them retired farmers who have passed on their properties to the next generation of the family. This increase in age leads to a fairly sedate life-style – not a lot of wife swapping, drug taking or neighbour shooting, all sports found mainly in the city!
But everyone knows nearly everyone else and, apart from the occasional family feud, if you are in any trouble there is, more often than not, someone who is willing and able to help out! The place really wouldn’t survive without a healthy attitude to volunteering either, something common to many country towns I’m sure, in fact the volunteers are just about the lifeblood of the place, most town organisations would fold without them!
All in all, I think we were very lucky to have arrived in this town about seventeen years ago, not even having been aware of its existence until then. We have made very good friends here and we enjoy a high standard of living, at no great expense, with the added bonus that we always feel safe here, unlike some city dwellers! I think we’ll hang around for a while!
What is your town like? Do you live away from the big city? What are the landmarks and things to do in your area? Tell us in the comments!