ROB INGRAM SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO MYTHS ABOUT COUNTRY PEOPLE.
NOW LOOK HERE, it’s just not true that when an aeroplane flies over our place, the villagers all rush out and point to the skies. And okay, we’re now smart enough to know that the NBN rollout would never come this way, but we no longer think that the ‘internet’ is where we want the fifish to go, and that ‘laptop’ is where the cat sleeps. I’m making this clear because city folk seem to cling to the belief that out here we’re a little behind the times, a little slow to embrace progress. I read a recent survey — yes, a surprising number of us can read — which stated that urbanites believe rural folk stand in the way of inevitable progress and are therefore underdeveloped and backward. They also believe that we’re socially and culturally disadvantaged — but that’s just not true, either. The Shire Council held a very nice little ceremony last weekend to celebrate the blessing of the new Bobcat, and put on a sausage sizzle afterwards. You don’t get that in your swanky beachfront suburbs. Rural people probably think city dwellers follow trends rather than values. Here’s an interesting thing: visit the city and seek out the crowd that is convinced that country folk are fashion dags, narrow-minded, prejudiced and outmoded and, dang me, they’re all wearing elastic-sided boots and moleskins, and driving urban offff-roaders with a dog hanging out the window. City trendies have forsaken duck confifit croustade for the old pot roast, and developed a taste for Bundy and Coke. Who’s following whom now? As I write this, our Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, is trying to convince a dubious nation that there’s ‘good debt’ and ‘bad debt’. My mission is to convince you that there’s ‘bad old-fashioned’ and ‘good old-fashioned’. Bad old-fashioned is flflared jeans. Good old-fashioned are the things that city people miss and country folk have never lost.
“RURAL PEOPLE PROBABLY THINK CITY DWELLERS FOLLOW TRENDS RATHER THAN VALUES.”
Visitors from the city bite into our tomatoes, grown for flflavour, rather than long supermarket shelf life, and say, “this is how tomatoes used to taste.” Our carrots taste the way carrots used to taste and our oranges taste the way oranges used to taste too. Remember peas, apples and spinach? Ours taste the way they used to taste. There’s a lot of old-fashioned stuffff out here. Respect. Loyalty. Tolerance. Community spirit. And good old-fashioned values... and I’m not just talking real estate here. Pride and satisfaction at contributing to change for the common good — no matter how slow it is. The ‘bumpkin’ jibes we have to put up with might just be a cover-up for the envy starting to be felt by those trapped on the treadmill of hectic city living. Might just be an expression of urban anxiety. Maybe we resist growth out here, but what is growing is the suspicion among a number of Australians that rural Australia offffers a higher quality of life. Not because of what it has, but rather because of what it doesn’t have. And then there are the ancillary benefifits. “Quick,” I say to The Chosen One, “I’m writing a piece in praise of country living. What do you think is the biggest advantage?” “Didn’t run into anyone I know today,” she said. “Can wear the same outfifit tomorrow.”