What is it with regional Australia?
After not visiting for a while, and I know looking through urban eyes, there can be such a relentless perfunctory practicality and utilitarianism in regional Australia! Not to say this doesn’t exist in urban centers, its undoubtably an Australian characteristic. I think it was Patrick White (the foremost Australian novelists of the 20th century) who said “Australia celebrates the ordinary”
“A pragmatic nation, we tend to confuse reality with surfaces. Perhaps this dedication to surfaces is why we are constantly fooled by the crooks who mostly govern us” (Patrick White, from ‘Flaws in the Glass’, 1981)
There is also the prevalent proliferation of the mainstream multi national companies, seemingly in every town; McDonalds, KFC, Woolworth’s, Coles.The homogenized sameness.
Having said all this, I have always loved the country, and there are of course many inspiring individuals and initiatives, that become apparent to the visitor the longer you stay rather than just passing through, and there are the same problems of globalization in the cities and worldwide! On this road trip we did visit some inspiring places. One was the ‘The Old Convent’ at Borenore, just outside of Orange, NSW. A cafe run by chef Josie Chapman (open only on Sundays for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea), also with accommodation and a function space. The convent was once established by the Josephite nuns. The oldest building, a small two-bedroom cottage, was built around 1860, now the self-contained accommodation, and the former church was built during the 1890’s, now the function venue. The ‘new’ convent building was constructed during the 1920’s and incorporated the single room school that was in use until the 1970’s, and now the cafe. My friend Barbara Sweeney of ‘foodandwords’ has taken over the mantle while Josie is away studying futher culinary delights in France. It is a beautiful spot and beautiful food.
We also stayed at the Black Sheep Inn. Lovely accommodation at Borenore, with the Black Sheep inn, a converted shearing shed, and Whispering Moon Cottage, a former shearers’ quarters. Really nice to see an appreciation of the natural beauty of the bush, with gum trees replanted and reintroduced around Whispering Moon Cottage and the overall property itself, creating a restorative tranquility.
There is also the beautiful surrounding countryside, overlooking the Molong Creek valley.