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.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Cold Country … Dryandra Woodlands Delivers Shivers

It’s time to seize the day and embrace the cold. Really. 

Grab your best flannel shirt and prepare for it to soak up woodfire smoke! For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast Hidden Treasures let’s drive out of this town and into one of the best woodland adventures you can have in Western Australia. have a listen to the link below of just continue reading:

This is a getaway that will need torches, jaffle irons and ugg boots. 

You’ll even find flowers in winter

The Dryandra Woodlands are less than two hours drive south of Perth, although you may want to stop off at Wandering, Williams or Narrogin, depending on which way you go and whether you need to get supplies.

Dryandra Woodland

In the centre of the 28, 000 hectares is the Lions Dryandra Woodland Village, full of wartime era nissen huts and even earlier, but more recently refurbished, woodcutter cottages of varying sizes and all facing the setting sun with a view of grazing kangaroos in the dying of the light.

The dying of the light in Dryandra

I grew up in the area and it’s fair to say that Dryandra brings out the Les Hiddens Bush Tucker Man in me, or perhaps more accurately the Russell Coight.

My school camps were held at Dryandra and in between kids staking their feet on protruding sticks, eyes being punctured by protruding sticks and kids being impaled on protruding sticks it’s fair to say I’m keen to gather up all the protruding sticks and put them in our fireplace when we arrive.

You’ll need to.  Dryandra is cold.  It’s next door to Wandering which is as cold as cold gets in Western Australia.  I thought I knew what cold was, growing up in Narrogin and playing hockey on a Saturday morning, or more recently hot air ballooning in the Avon Valley, but Dryandra cold is relentless, it keeps shivering itself further inside your skin, deeper, deeper, until it coils itself around your bones and doesn’t let go.

But that’s why you’re here.  To freeze on an afternoon bush walk.  To freeze on an evening discovery tour to see the local wildlife.  To freeze while you’re having a hot shower and to freeze while you sit by the fireplace. 

The bedrooms of the cottages are filled with bunks and, with multiple rooms, there are lots of options for keeping couples and friends together and farters and snorers in their own quarantine. 

There are big sofas and a wood fire and you can use the firewood as it’s provided or chop it into smaller pieces with the axe provided. Wood chopping in a flannel shirt – dreams are made of this.

There’s an inside toilet and there’s an outside toilet for the dads. And there’s a front veranda that looks out over a grass field and the forest.  Perfect for sitting with a cup of tea and a gingernut biscuit while you watch the kangaroos grazing as the sun sets over the woodland.  The caretakers pay the roos well to make their regular appearances.  If you don’t see kangaroos I’ll eat my South Freo beanie and wear a Swan Districts beanie for a week.

Western Grey Kangaroos

There are lots of well-marked walking trails that will last 30 minutes or 4 hours or if you’re worried about drop bears then you can stay in your car for the Darwinia drive trail.

Barna Mia is an unforgettable experience that can be bitterly cold but will warm your heart.  In the middle of Dryandra, as night falls, participate in a nocturnal tour under the guidance of Parks and Wildlife staff and with red light torches spot all sorts threatened and precious animals in our bush, like bilby, woylie, quenda, boodie and maybe even a drop bear.  

Possum spotting can be done from the back porch of your cottage or a short stroll into the surrounding bush.  With an old Dolphin torch, shine it up into the trees like a World War II searchlight and if you see one, hold the light to the side as shining it into their eyes is just as annoying and horrible for their little eyes as it is for us.

Hello possum!

Try some campfire cooking.  Take your trusty, rusty jaffle iron and put some tinned spaghetti between some white bread and stick it on the fire and for sweets wrap a banana with some chocolate in alfoil and stick it on the coals.  Get the kids to make damper balls (as Tom said, “Must have been a big damper.”) and dip them in jam.

Get a local Aboriginal experience.  Have a look at the WAITOC website for Narrogin Aboriginal tour operators or ask the cottage caretakers for advice on who to contact.  I recommend Ross Storey.  Sit on a log around a small fire and listen to Ross talk about his country and he will teach you how to throw a boomerang and he’ll put local ochre on your face, do a smoking ceremony and pass around kangaroo skins and Aboriginal tools from the area, including woomeras and spears.

Ross Storey’s Stories

Do some modern day treasure hunting by locating sneaky geocaches in the bush.

Geocaching is modern day treasure hunting

The nearby Williams Woolshed is another unforgettable experience on your way to Dryandra or on your way back home. They’ve recently set up a drive-thru but sitting inside and being presented with the best sausage roll in the world is worth getting out of your car for.  My dad never allowed food in the car.  Once every three years he’d stop for a drumstick or spearmint milkshake but that was it.  No food in the car.  Ever.  Not even butter menthols.

Dryandra is a Hidden Treasure because it’s not featured in any big tourism campaigns but it’s always big in my annual getaway plans and it’s a getaway that gets you together, whether it’s huddled by the fire telling stories, walking through inspiring bush or waiting for the first person to ruin the ambience and scare the roos as they bite through their gingernut bikky. Soak it in your tea people!

Just what I needed

ABC Breakfast Show: Let a Regional Show Pull You Out of the City

 

Great discussion on the ABC Saturday Breakfast Show about the lure of the regional shows – the agriculural shows – that can get city folk hitting the road for a day trip or weekender.

Regional shows have big tractors, big roosters and rams and if you’re lucky, big scones and mock chicken sandwiches in the CWA tent.

A wander through sideshow alley with spruikers enticing your participation with great calls of, “Don’t be bashful, don’t be shy, step on up and have a try!”

Just remember the golden rule on the Dodgems/Bumper Cars; “One way ’round only drivers, one way ’round only!  Left hand down, left hand down is the only way ’round!”

Showduck

ABC Breakfast Show: It’s a long way down the holiday road

 

“I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road” 

That line, from Lindsay Buckingham’s, ‘Holiday Road’, theme tune for the movie, ‘Vacation’, is so evocative of those road trips from the past and the present.

Peeling mandarins, playing travel games based on the colour of oncoming vehicles, the stench of spilled milkshakes and the music that never suited every passenger in the car so it all got turned off.

My discussion on the ABC Saturday Breakfast Show about roadtrips turned into more of a nostalgic romp through time for Charlotte, Jamie and I and we almost forgot to mention some of the good road trips from Perth that can take you to so many wonderful places.

The Avon Valley, the Ferguson Valley and Dryandra Forest are all ideal day trips from Perth that make even better overnight mini vacations.

A good road trip is all about the journey as much as the destination so make sure you pull off the road and discover a new roadhouse sausage roll or a granite outcrop full of lizards basking in the sun.

Enjoy listening to our roadtrip discussion in the link at the top of this page.  Hopefully it brings back fond memories and is just a little bit inspiring for when that next long weekend comes around.

 

 

6PR Interview: Easter Travels by Road and Rail

Enjoy listening to the story below about getting those Easter long weekend travels booked before it’s too late.  I’ve suggested a road trip and a rail trip that will get you out of Perth for a couple of days.

 

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In the centre of Dryandra at the Barna Mia Sanctuary, little critters shuffle, scuff and scurry under a wonderful canopy of stars.

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The locals are friendly

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Picture Above: The Australind, from the heart of Perth to the heart of Bunbury in just two and half hours (you can even buy snacks).

To help plan your road trip to Dryandra or rail trip to Bunbury I’ve attached some website addresses below:

http://www.dryandravillage.org.au

http://www.visitbunbury.com.au

http://www.bunbury.wa.gov.au

http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au/plan-your-journey/the-australind

If you’re driving this Easter, take the time to get there and back safely.