I find myself occasionally feeling as though I have to defend my decision to live contentedly here in TinyTrainTown– in the sticks. Semi–rural. Bush. ‘All the way out here’.
Each and every courier, tradesman or journo who’s ever come to the TinyTrainHouse comments on how far away it is from anywhere. How very small the town is. How they’ve never even heard of TinyTrainTown before. The tradies who get lost on the way here are always the most disparaging, their good humor eaten up by un-curbed roads that seem to stretch forever and all kind of look the same.
“How did you come to live out here…?” People are generally mystified as to why anyone would want to live where I do. I stare back at them, equally bemused, amazed that they’re unable to see what I see.
I guess it’s true, it might seem slightly isolated. TinyTrainTown is at least an hour and half drive from Sydney. We’re fifteen minutes from the nearest service station or major supermarket, probably forty minutes from any larger stores or services.
The road into town is eight kilometers of scrub and barely used train tracks. The population tops about 700 people (and that seems an over-estimate, really). As I’ve heard said, TinyTrainTown is so small it ‘doesn’t even have a pub!’
The town is not particularly quaint or pretty. It’s so nondescript that you could literally drive through it and not realise you’d been here. The mobile reception is nonexistent, and even the land-line home phone and ADSL internet crackles and drops out terribly if it happens to be raining. Or windy. Or, you know, Wednesday. Whenever.
But that’s the worst of it. The tarnished view of the penny, the dark side of the moon. There’s always more to things than that. And if nothing else, I tend to be an optimist.
It’s quiet here, peaceful. There is no din of constant traffic, no continual thrum of people. I like that. When I was little, growing up in Paradise, it was so quiet at night you could hear the rumbling boom of thunderstorms far out at sea. I remember, as a child, staying at a relative’s house in the middle of the city suburbs and being unable to sleep for the never ending noise coming from the streets outside. The cars. The horns. Music. People. It’s never quiet, not really. You get used to it, I know that. But I’ve grown accustomed to the silence again. The only thing that desecrates it is the occasional passing car.
While the town itself is nothing much to look at, the scrubby eucalyptus bushland of the national parks that surround it are soul-soothingly pleasant. A thousand different shades of green. There are parrots and cockatoos, possums and sugar gliders. Sandstone caves and tiny creeks. Snakes and spiders, too, of course; but I don’t think any kid is really that much worse off for having a basic knowledge of them (‘basic’ rather than ‘intimate’ being the key wording here).
People know people, in TinyTrainTown. While I’m never really been a rah-rah-community-spirit kind of person and I tend to keep to myself, I know my neighbors by first name and the local shopkeepers by sight.
We actually do have shops here, though they’re as easy as anything else in the town to miss. Three of them, in fact- a fish and chip shop; a small supermarket; and post office/newsagent/grocery/DVD hire. All the shops are overpriced and sell short-dated stock at the tills, but you can still get all the basics you need.
We walk to the shops, most days, when we’re not in a hurry and the weather’s favorable. Some days we walk home from daycare and school. The round trip never takes longer than half an hour by foot, no more than four minutes by car. If it takes longer than two minutes to drive there… it’s probably not in TinyTrainTown.
It’s safe here. It feel secure. It feels like a wholesome place to bring up small children. And most of the time, it’s just a nice place to be.
None of this seems to sway anyone’s opinion. “Yeah but, love… it’s just so far away!”
I find the only answer anyone gets is in the language everyone seems to understand.
“Uhhhh… The house prices are cheap. Three bedroom house, big backyard…”
And that makes logical sense to most incredulous tradesman who’ve made the hour trek to TinyTrainTown. It’s easier to see the appeal in that; in choosing between a tiny flat or a huge mortgage an hour closer to the city, or having a house of my own and dealing with the occasional inconvenience of living ‘all the way out here’.
I made the right choice– I rarely ever doubt that. It’s just other people, I find, that take some convincing.