I’ve always enjoyed long trips to the country. I’ve camped, motel-ed & caravanned my way through many small & not so small, Australian outback towns. And more times than I can count I’ve said, “Lets sell up and move here, I can see myself living here”. And of course that hasn’t happened…
So what is it with small towns? What’s the lure that makes you want to leave the busy suburban sprawl, the plethora of choice in cafe, restaurants, shows & movie nights, the joy of running up or down the station stairs hoping to make the 4.15pm train, or those down-town smells and shopping galore. Why leave all that excitement?
All the clear Fresh air I suppose, or maybe the fact that everyone says it’s quiet, lay-back, less stressful – but is it? Taking the opportunity to speak with many people living in the towns we visit, I find they are just as busy as those of us living in medium populated towns or in the bustling cities. When you take the time to stop and spend a day or two you do see a different lifestyle, but it’s not any less than than their city cousins, it’s just different. Most of them have as much going on in their busy lives as the rest of us.
To be fair, the balance of population in the smaller towns goes with there being more senior, long-term or retired folk, so for many, their lives may operate at a less hectic pace – that’s what I’m looking forward to. And in hectic, for me (short of unforeseen issues), it’s being able to choose what you do for the day when you no longer have to rise with the alarm in your ear. :)
So I started wondering if it had more to do with the atmosphere – after all country towns are set – well – in the country! And straight away we think of mountains, fields and hillsides, dotted with livestock or fenced off for horses or crops. We imagine a river or creek running nearby or more often than not, they run right through the town. Driving into the town the first thing you usually notice are the streets are much wider (and quieter) than built up suburbia, I especially love the main streets, enough room to support the through traffic and lots of angle parking on the side. I mean, it’s not the issue with, “Gee, is my car going to fit in that spot,and will those 20 cars behind me mind waiting while I give it a go, ’cause my reverse parking is a little rusty.” Often you have plenty of time to pull up and check out if that’s where you want to park or should you move slowly along the road, checking out the other 10 free spots ahead? I live in a ‘growing population’ Tourist town on the coast, so we try to head out of town in holiday season so I am very familiar with the saying “Bloody Tourists”
Of course I have to be fair, there’s less population in the average country town, and much of the residential area is close to the town centre and in walking distance, so it makes sense there would be less traffic, less constriction on the roads. For me, strolling the town, window shopping, being able to stop here and there to check out the local wares, is a welcome change. Just being able to move easily on the footpath is great.
There’s usually great walking or sightseeing tracks around too! And these are normally not far out of town. Wide open spaces of parks, woodlands, dirt tracks that meander off the beaten track, taking you to unexpected treasures, a cave, a rocky outcrop majestically sitting high above the landscape below, or a babbling stream flowing under wooden walk bridge on it’s way past the township.
I’ll never miss an Art Show or Exhibit if I’m in town. Some of Australia’s most famous Artists come from country beginnings – Two that come instantly to mind are Pro Hart & Albert Namatjira. Often there is a museum. Some are nice new buildings, but most are refurbished homesteads or shops manned by volunteers. I like that I can browse for ages in them – small towns get you in like that.