ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Hometowns … it’s not about being a hometown hero, it’s about having a place to go

We’re all from somewhere.  Some of us are from towns and suburbs, some of us might be from remote pastoral properties or communities.

Wherever you’re from do you still live there?  If you’ve moved away from where you grew up do you ever go back?  Why do you go back?  Why do you think people should experience your hometown?

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I explored hometowns and took lots of calls and messages from listeners keen to share stories about their hometown. Christina told a great story about Kalgoorlie and Lorraine called to say she grew up in Narrogin and had memories of butchers giving her little red sausages as a treat (I remember the slice of polony from Spanswicks Butchers).

For the first time in a long, long time I couldn’t be in the ABC studio and the audio software didn’t work as well as we had hoped so when you’re listening to the file below, please forgive me. It does get better after a few minutes I promise!

What do you love most or miss most about your hometown?

Some things that might make your hometown special include:

  • Entry statements that capture an identity … big sheep (big anything), quirky statues or signs
  • Prominent buildings like town halls, pubs and memorials
  • Iconic shops like deli’s and toy shops
  • Big events like regional shows and festivals (Dad’s favourite tshirt was pink and emblazoned with the Agrolympics logo)
  • Making your own fun in a creek or vacant block, perhaps building a bike jump
  • Being a member of local service clubs and sporting associations
  • Local lookouts and hangouts
  • Rivalries with neighbouring towns and districts

A lot of us find ourselves away from where we’ve come from. To travel back to where we’ve come from is one of the greatest reasons to travel.

I’d like to introduce you to my hometown.  It’s not far down the road. I’m proud not just to grow up there but to have heritage there. If you’ve known me for five minutes, you know I’m from Narrogin.

Recently, my daughter Matilda turned 18 and she and her friends blew the party bar tab at a Perth pub in 15 minutes, by ordering cocktails.

I thought back to when I turned 18 and my Dad, the now passed but forever beautiful Dr John Parry, took me to the Narrogin Club to have a middy of Super.  No cocktails, no guava flavoured vodka concoctions.  Super. 

Dad and I sat at the bar and solved a few of the worlds problems and his mates came and went, sharing the days events from down the main street to what was happening in the paddocks.

With Dad’s passing I stopped renewing my membership at the Narrogin Club but with Matilda becoming an adult I contacted the President, Wayne Francis, who hastily convened a committee meeting where it was unanimously voted to allow Matilda and I to come along last Saturday night. 

Just a dad and his daughter

Wayne welcomed us, served us and shared stories of the town and people that were enthralling for me and a bit bemusing for Matilda. 

She struggled her way through her first beer and this is where my dad and I diverge.  He let me struggle to drink my first beer whereas I allowed Matilda to call it quits and order something else.

We could talk more about how my hometown has a townhall, great counter meals at the local pub, an annual regional show you can still sneak into for free behind the race track and how kids get out onto vacant blocks and build bike jumps with treacherous pits for those kids who don’t pedal fast enough.

Bike jumps or Gallipoli trenches?

We could talk about the three primary schools, the senior high school, the strength of its service clubs and sporting associations. We could talk about the Tucker Box Deli and Steve’s Deli (still called that even though Steve hasn’t owned it for more than a quarter of a century).

It’s a town that hasn’t stood still since I last lived there but in my mind, as we drive around and I see houses where my friends lived, I think they’re still there and all I have to do to get those times back is throw my bike down on their front lawn and knock on the door.

Why are hometowns hidden treasures?

My hometown is a hidden treasure because it’s not far down the road and it welcomes me every time with its view into the valley as you come over the hill. 

Coming into town … no flame trees but you know what I mean

Hometowns are hidden treasures because they remind us of the importance of having a sense of place and the importance of having a sense of community. To have a place to go to, to mark milestones and tell old stories and make new ones is the greatest treasure of all.

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