Image: New Line Cinema
It’s not easy living in a town so small it doesn’t even have a general store — and not just because you have to drive 20 minutes for a decent latte.
Don’t get me wrong; I love living in a tight-knit community. But when I complain about not being able to skip netball training because my coach’s neighbour will see me at the pub, my friends who grew up in larger towns or cities have no idea what I’m talking about.
If you also come from a small town, I’ll bet these nine things ring all too true:
1. Telling someone where you live is complicated.
You’re well aware most people have no idea your town even exists. So you’ll inevitably rattle off a list of nearby towns they might have heard of, hoping they’ll stop you before you say “near Melbourne” or “a little north-west of Brisbane”. Sometimes, you’ll cut that process short and just say, “Oh, I live an hour and a half from the city.”
2. You actually don't know everyone in that town.
The sense of community in a small town is amazing and often you will walk down the street and smile at the (two or three) people who pass you by. But even though you know a lot of people in your hometown, that doesn't mean you know everyone. People you meet get excited when they know someone who is also from your town, given how slim the chances were. It's awkward when you have to tell them you actually have no clue who their cousin's best friend is.
Watch: We asked some local celebs for their thoughts on "being Australian." (Post continues after video.)
3. "The country" is not a place.
When I tell people where I'm from, they almost always say, "Oh, I like Gippsland. I have a holiday home in Lakes Entrance. Beautiful place." I just nod along, because Lakes Entrance is almost 200km away from Thorpdale and certainly not the same place.
4. Rain is a good thing.
Typically, someone from a city will be annoyed when it starts raining. But anyone who grew up with a water tank, crops or livestock dependant on a decent amount of rainfall is annoyed when it stops raining. That being said, you still complain about rain as much as the next person when its spoils your barbecue plans.
5. You know 30 minutes is not actually a long drive.
"You have to drive how far?" is the typical response when you tell people you drive half an hour to work (at least). What they don't realise is living in a small town means you have to drive everywhere. For everything. Grocery shopping, dance lessons, movies, haircuts... yep, you're very used to driving. Thirty minutes? That's a standard trip.
6. Sport is at the centre of the community.
Growing up within walking distance of your teachers, the local publican, your netball coach and your parent's friends means a friendly face is never far away. But there's normally a central point for community interaction, and that place is often a sporting club. There's a hive of activity every Saturday morning, particularly during footy season, and that's where you get all the gossip. (Post continues after gallery.)
7. Gossip travels fast.
That gossip? It also means that anonymity is not an option. Any dreams you might have had of keeping the weekend’s exploits to yourself are dashed. I once had a minor car accident and by the next day everyone in the town knew the exact time, place and extent of the damage. Once Dad tells Johno from the bowling club, it might as well be broadcast on the nightly news.
8. We don’t all want to move to 'the big smoke'.
Us country people are not as enthusiastic at the idea of moving to the nearest city as some might think. It’s not that it wouldn't be great, and we're not denying some career opportunities are more limited in a regional area, but we're pretty attached to our homes.
9. It's a regional area – not Mars.
When telling a born and bred city-slicker you're not from there, their reaction will vary from a piqued interest in exactly how far away you live, to acting as if you’ve just morphed into an alien. But while your expertise lies more with avoiding wombats on winding roads than navigating busy streets during peak hour, you know you're really not that different.
Are you from the country? What do you wish "city people" know about it?