29/12/2014 – written by Dave
0k – Mudgee to Mudgee
One of the reasons we did this trip out through the NSW Central West was to spend some time in small town Australia. Having moved to Australia in 1999, we’ve always said that Australia reminded us of the US some 20 years ago. Well, that was 1999 when the internet hadn’t made everything smaller – these days everything is becoming so much the same. For example, on our big trip we saw village children in Cambodia wearing Angry Bird t-shirts. Well, I’m happy to report that a lot in small town Australia is still holding on. Below, some small town Australia observations.
Oriental Goods – Growing up in small town USA (or Australia), there was always an “Asian” or “Oriental” restaurant or shop in town. These places were run by “Asians” and seemed to contain multiple generations of family members from whatever country they came from. To us, Asia and the Orient were all the same – places a long ways from where we were. To know the difference between India and China and Japan and Korea didn’t really matter – and thus a shop being called oriental made perfect sense. Of course, now living in multi-cultural Australia and having travelled all over Asia, we know that all of these places are actually quite different. In Sydney, it is quite rare to see “Asian” or “Oriental” anything. In our neighbourhood, there are restaurants from Thailand, India, Nepal, China, Singapore, Japan, Korea and more. So, to come to Mudgee and see and Oriental shop took us back – small town Australia brings the past back.
So onto the news agency. Nothing apparently small town here except that there are still news agents who sell paper things. That is until you enter the magazine section. How many Sydney magazine shops have a rural section? Well, they have one in Mudgee – sporting such great titles as “Farms”, “Earthmovers and Excavators”, “Poultry”, “Horse”, “Horseman” and “Cutting” – to name a few. I could have spent hours just browsing but Nancy wanted to move on. Lucky that she did not spot the homemaker section or we’d still be there looking over the sewing and needlepoint titles.
They still deliver mail by postman in the small towns. Here, however, the postman is actually a postwoman. She pushes her cart up the street stopping at every shop, leaving the cart unattended in front of the shop. The fluoro appears to be about the only upgrade they’ve made over the years. For the distant deliveries, they still use the old postie motor bikes as well – an Aussie icon if there ever was one.
Mudgee town centre is full of lots of great old buildings. There’s a Coles and Woolies but thankfully they have hidden them so that they don’t take over the street frontage. They’ve left many of the old buildings to keep the town’s character. And it’s not all old for the sake of preservation – the Saddlery is still doing great business, full of customers with utes parked in front and the Country Woman’s Association is apparently active in a nicely restored building.
Being a small town, there are places to live, right in the centre of town. We stumbled across an old federation that was for sale. A real beauty. Nancy particularly liked the big stained glass window and massive front door. I saw the charm but did my usual and also spotted the cracks in the foundation. We did not make further inquirers. (Chief Editor’s note – there’s still time, we have the number…)
There are always lots of churches in these small towns – often more than it would appear that the population could support. But they are obviously gathering places for the community. Mudgee even has a Christian bookstore – Nancy found a book for me in the ‘sale books’ basket out the front… And, we think we found Baby Jesus in the front yard of a house here.
Mudgee being our second wine region of the trip, we managed to pick up a drop from the organic shop on main street. We tried to pick something up at Beer Wine Spirits (BSW) – the chain associated with Woolies. Just to show you how big the foot print of these stores are getting, they only had Orange wines in the local section. There are heaps of wines in Mudgee but it looks like most of them are selling out the cellar door, or at least not in quantities that would satisfy a behemoth like Woolies.
Another thing that you see in almost every small town is a memorial garden and monument of some kind – often surrounded by a rose garden or the like. I’m sure that they have these in bigger cites but we seem to notice them more in the small towns. It could be that we are too busy to slow down and a bike trip rest day is the only time we stop rushing enough to pay attention. There’s a message in there somewhere – maybe bike trips really are good for the soul as well as the body.
We had a great brekkie at a local cafe, yogurt with some handmade local granola for lunch and have just finished off the rest of the pizza last night with a salad for dinner, and a drop of the wine, of course. Good food with a few hours of watching cricket make for a pretty good rest day… (Chief Editor’s note – at least the cricket keeps Dave entertained, leaving me free to read as long as I’d like, with perhaps a nap thrown in for good measure).
Tomorrow we are off to a spot on the map called Bylong, where we are not sure what we will find but rumour has it there is at least a community hall of some kind where we can camp. A bit of unsealed road between here and there so it may be another adventure…