It’s Saturday night and you’re dressed in your best farm clothes. You’ve got an esky full of beer and a Ute full of friends. The working dogs are tied to the back and the guns are loaded. Welcome to roo shooting, social highlight of the week.
Your best friend is your mate. The guy who makes your coffee is your mate. The random chick in the bar is your mate. That stupid drongo that didn’t indicate at the roundabout is your mate. As in, “Nice bloody indicating, mate!”
Growing up in the country and listening to country music goes hand in hand. However, as you move away from home and into the big city, you hide your roots because country music is massively uncool.
You give your country music playlists code names, and your old CD of Garth Brooks is hidden deep in your drawers. The fact that you know the words to “Texas QLD 4385” by Lee Kernaghan will never be exposed until you’re safely in the premises of your local pub.
Coming from a small country town in Northern NSW, I’ve made the error in assuming people know Australian geography well. Even mentioning my state of New South Wales results in blank looks. It’s way easier to tell people who haven’t been to Australia that I’m from Sydney than trying to explain I live an hour south of the Queensland border, about three hours inland, in a town with a population of 10,000 people.
It might have been a small calf that didn’t even buck, but you still rode it like you were Lane Frost.
Us country kids are brought up to be polite and friendly. Growing up in a small town means you know everybody, and it’s polite to say “G’day” as you pass people on the street. A person walking with their head down and avoiding eye contact is seen as snobby, or worse — a city slicker.
Traffic jams are about as common as a new fast food joint opening up in town. The streets (which still have roundabouts — traffic lights are unheard of) are filled with dusty trucks, family cars, young guys in beat-up cars doing laps with music thumping from their jacked-up stereos, and the odd tractor.
A really spectacular show involves several tractors, a forklift, and a truck with several sheep caged in the back. Most likely with AC/DC cranked up on full.
Best part of growing up in a small town? There’s no chance of getting lost. Worst part of growing up in a small town? Moving to a big city means using a GPS just to find the next block. A small town main street is always a hive of activity. It serves as a social hotspot — it’s where to buy everything and where to stalk your high school crush while he does laps in his flash new Ute.
There’s nothing better than a juicy chicken parmigiana, drowned in gravy and sided with hot chips and a few lettuce leaves. Top that off with an ice cold beer and you’ve got yourself a gourmet dinner, country style.
Sink a couple more beers and have a chin wag with your neighbour. Stumble out at 2:30am because by small town law that’s when pubs have to shut. Talk shit with your mates on the street for a while before grabbing a lukewarm sausage roll from the 24-hour service station. End up crashing on your friend’s couch because you live 15 minutes out of town and you’re too drunk to drive. Solid night out.
You could live in the most beautiful place on Earth, see the 7 Wonders of the World, and tick everything off your bucket list, but at the end of the day that little town you grew up in is the best thing you’ve ever had. And nothing beats driving home with the windows down, passing the main street and the odd tractor — because to you, that’s home.