Like many other countries, Australia is made up of large cities, small towns and villages, and the wide open spaces we know of as “the outback”. These three major types of environment, (although we may not be aware of it), all work together to create the whole – without the cities, the small towns and the outback would have no centres to send and sell their produce, and no proper, centralised system of government or organise everything, while the outback and/or countryside are the food baskets for the cities, as well as being major exporters, with their vast areas of grassland supporting billions of cattle and sheep, or rich soil for the growth of limitless vegetables, fruits and cereals.
The small country towns also have serious parts to play, in the development of the whole picture. For a start they are the linking points that help to join all the bits and pieces together, the animal markets where herds are sold to the next link in the chain of supply, the abattoirs and the wholesalers who convert the livestock into meat, for the consumption of the city dwellers, (who have little or no knowledge of such things).
It is the little towns that provide entertainment and social intercourse for the many thousands of men and women who live and work on the land, many of them so far from ‘civilisation’ that they may only meet people other than the ones they work with, two or three times a year. The small towns provide the simple entertainments that these simple people require – when I say simple, I don’t mean that country folk are daft or ‘gaga’, because most of them are far from that, clever, incisive people who live off the land, know how to complete deals sometimes worth millions, many of them with university degrees! By ‘simple’ people I mean they have little or no interest in flashy night clubs, expensive restaurants or posh hotels; on the rare occasions they can spare the time to travel the few kilometres to their nearest small town they want to do a bit of shopping – tools perhaps for the men, some nice items of clothing for the women, or new shoes for the kids.
Then they look to the local RSL, pub or social club for a bit of fun, a few beers or some glasses of wine to help wash down a healthy plateful of well-cooked grub in the bistro. They’d laugh themselves silly, if some establishment made the mistake of trying to serve up what is known in the city as ‘nouvel cuisine’ to them, you know, a very large plate with a dollop of mashed potato in the centre, on the top of which is a piece of steak the size of a pack of twenty cigarettes, three runner beans, two baby carrots and a nasturtium flower balanced at the top, all completed with a trickle of gravy forming a circular frame around the ‘masterpiece’. Because that’s just what those meals are, especially in the eyes of hungry country folk; works of art, not meals!
The small town also provides the immediate necessities, required by everyone – banking, petrol or diesel oil, hardware, haberdashery, churches, medical facilities, legal experts and insurance/financial advisors, schools and sports facilities, all saving local people the enormous expense they would have to bear, if they had to travel to the nearest major city!
So, I don’t just want my small town to survive – I think it is absolutely vital to the welfare of our wonderful nation as a whole that it should do so. It is the heart that keeps the country alive, the artery that feed life-giving blood to the cities, even the brain that still knows how the ‘old ways’ function, the slaughter of animals for food, the breeding of quality cereals and vegetables, all skills long lost in the city!
Leave my little town, and all the others like it, to carry on working as it always has – you may find you’d die without it!
Did you grow up in a small, country town?
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