Top Aussie traditions we’ve left to the country
A twelve-hour round trip is a fair distance for a weekend in the country, but there are few things you won’t do for good friends when they get married.
And that includes the threat of a locust plague.
It was a stifling thirty-something degrees across the New South Wales’s Central West last weekend.
The kind of heat that seems to melt the road unwinding in front of you, completely rules out the wearing of jeans or standing anywhere without shade for longer than 10 minutes.
It also makes you reluctant to leave the air-conditioned comfort of your car; unless you wade into the blissfully fabricated cool aisles of Target Country - but more on that later.
Road trips can be educational.
Putting paid to the torment of childhood car trips (before the time of portable DVD players) when there was never anything to do, there is actually a lot to see from the window of the car once you’re out of the city.
And much of it stands in tribute to some of the greatest aspects of the Australian way of life. You’ve just got to travel an average of 300km from any major city to see it.
Here’s some that I spotted on the way up the Mitchell Highway this weekend - please feel free to add yours below:
Bait and Ammo shops
False advertising has no room in shops like this - what they sell is on the door and what they sell is “bait and ammo”. They also have respect for recreation. The gun shop we spotted, packed to the gills with every kind of gun imaginable, was closed on Sunday.
Say what you will about Target in the city, but its country cousin is worth a visit the next time you happen past one. With wide aisles, heavenly air conditioning, helpful and patient staff and plenty of stuff like sandals, hats and sunscreen on the racks for people who’ve misinterpreted the weather forecast.
Country Chinese restaurants
One thing is for sure, no matter how far you drive, almost any country town you visit will have a Chinese restaurant. Instantly recognisable by the lace curtains obstructing any view of inside the window, the air-conditioning unit protruding from above the front door and a menu (sticky-taped to the inside) featuring staples like Mongolian lamb, lemon chicken, and sweet and sour pork.
Being of the generation that never actually went to a drive-in, it took a few seconds to realise that the huge billboard standing in the middle of an abandoned paddock was actually once the hub of Friday and Saturday night society and presumably the humble site of many Central West conceptions.
Real produce at real prices
Who doesn’t love buying fruit and vegetables from the side of a country road? And unlike the exorbitant prices of “organic” produce in city supermarkets, you’re actually smiling when you hand over the few coins it takes to pay for all that deliciousness.
Shops that shut at noon on Saturday
Anyone who’s ever spent a significant proportion of time working in retail, or a second job working weekends, will see the beauty of the four-hour shift and 12 noon closing. It also does a lot for the ambience of a town. The streets are quiet, parking’s a treat and the pubs are kept busy from about 1pm.
Motels where breakfast is included
It’s hard to say when hotels and motels in the city decided it was OK to whack an extra twenty or thirty dollars for “breakfast” on to the charge of the room, but drive long enough away for a weekend and a soggy bowl of cereal, glass of juice and burnt toast is all part of the service. Just the way it should be.
Cab drivers that don’t need directions
Country towns have long, wide streets that can be difficult for city people to navigate and therefore they rely on the services to get them to places and parties (that end up being not that far away). Lucky the cab drivers know the area like the back of their hand, no map, no GPS, just a street name and you’re there in 15 minutes flat.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…