Small Town Life in Australia

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Small town life: It seems that we’re making a few waves as we integrate ourselves into the small (and somewhat sleepy) community of Alexandra, 22kms away from our work-exchange digs.

Alexandra, although it has a population of only a few thousand residents, is a hub for the surrounding communities of Thornton, Buxton, Eildon, Yarck, and our own Taggerty. Most things that can’t be found elsewhere are in “Alex,” as the locals refer to it.

This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

After attending the local Rotary club a mere three times, we were made honourary members! I’m not convinced that it isn’t a ploy to rope us into harnessing our energy to help out with their many community projects, but if we are being played, we do so willingly. We still maintain that one of the best ways to integrate into a new community is through Rotary, and so far we are seeing that – in spades.

And we have been telling our story to some interested folks; describing the life we lead as Professional Hobos (a title that always gets a smile), and some of the work we have done (including our Burma project). This has earned us a reputation of sorts, and we are happily indulging people’s requests to speak to groups.

The Rotary club of Yea (about half an hour from Alexandra) had us speak to their club to tell our story. That in turn created a series of other speaking opportunities, which we are more than happy to oblige.

Kelly has become active with the primary school of Eildon, leading them on cross-country ski trips (I shiver at the thought), and working with the classes on some music and video projects.

And we have been woo-ed by one of the outdoor education facilities in the area too! We are delighted to be in such demand, and are making lots of friends along the way.

This being my first time living in and working towards becoming part of a small country community, I love every minute of it. Some perks:

  • If you run into trouble (as we did with a dead car battery once to my chagrin), somebody is sure to be there to help.
  • You can walk down the street and people know your name, or at least who you are. (We are “the Canadians”, and as such we can’t open our mouth to speak without blowing our cover).
  • You can get sidetracked quite easily (a nice problem to have) by lingering conversations with ensuing invitations for social calls.
  • The bloody scenery is awesome!

There are of course down-sides to small town life too:

  • You can’t always get what you need and sometimes have to order supplies in or drive further to get them.
  • 50kms is close by country standards (and the cost of fuel is not cheap).
  • Small town politics can go two ways, and when it goes “the other way”, it ain’t pretty.
  • Everything in the country somewhat inexplicably seems to take longer.

But in chatting on the phone with my mum the other day, I casually mentioned a few things in passing that I later realized were quite spectacular for a born-and-raised-city-girl:

  • I heard a cow giving birth the other day
  • There is a small river running through the property, flowing not 10 metres from our cottage
  • We live three kilometres from the main road, and one km from our front gate
  • I have four donkeys as friends (real donkeys)!

The last point not meant to be an implication of a slightly reduced level of social activity with humans (!), these small realities (among hundreds of others) make life in the country quirky and wonderful. If I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is look out the window at the dramatic rolling hills and realize that life ain’t so bad.

See also: City Life vs. Country Life – an Unbiased Analysis

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