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eSWAG 2

GUNNING READY OR NOT

Posted on January 22, 2012 by
Raymond
on the road at
Gunning NSW - Near Goulburn and Canberra
Old Picture House The Garage Garage Court House Local girls Caxton House I agree Old Hume Cafe What the..? Merino Cafe Granite caption current photos »

This was to me my first spoken blog but I sounded like John Howard ...  worse ... I sounded like Billy MacMahon. I don't know why but when I get in front of a mic, even when I know it can be wiped, and theres no one around; the jaw freezes, the mind solidifies and I feel like my now dead aunty is going to give me a wet kiss on the cheek any minute. So my blogs will remain as the written word until I learn to use my normal voice.

 

Tommie and I roll into the small country called Gunning on our way to Adelaide.  I was first drawn here because of a simple story. Actor Max Cullen and his artist wife Margarita Georgiadis renovated a run down picture house, converting it into The Picture House Gallery. The migration of an actor and artist to a small town to renovate a decaying building captured my imagination. It was a romantic story. Even more so had I known that Max was 61 and his wife 35 when they moved here 5 years ago. I am back now for a second time.

 

Gunning is gorgoeus. It is in an area called the Valley of the Little towns. There are heaps of them like Crookwell, Dalton, Jerrawa and all only an hour or so from Goulburn and Canberra. When the cattle duffers and bushrangers let them, the towns served the wool industry after the local Pajong people were wiped out. I always wonder if their spirits are still here, perhaps secreted amongst the granite outcrops that lie weathering on the surrounding hills.

 

I head into the gallery past the original ticket booth. The spirit of the old theatre has stuck to the building like chewing gum under a seat. I imagine it's Saturday night ... 1932 ... the Depression years softened by James Cagney in Taxi ... you dirty rat ...  Dad and Dave ... Movietone shorts of Don Bradman. God, how many Gunning babies had kissing in the back row and then a quick session in an FJ Holden to thank for their existence? Now there is a maze of antiques, memorabilia, theatre posters, costumes and old books on sale. Max and Margarita's art and scultpure is in the back.

 

We move to sit in the glorious morning sun outside the Merino Cafe, enjoying a soy chai latte and, in keeping with the pioneer spirit, strike up a conversation with two fashionably bald gay guys tucking into Eggs BenedictCafes are now my entree into small towns like this.
 
As the story of Max and Margarita showed the power of narrative to attract and inspire, the front page headline in this morning's rag is at once frightening and hilarious. MUMS VENT FURY AT FORGOTTEN WIGGLE. Seems us humans yearn for both meaningful and meaningless stories. 
 
My laptop and modem are out as I catch up with some writing. Tom is intrigued by the replica sheep that doesn't move. It is too simply too nice to leave despite a looming 800 kilometre drive. Just for this moment I am as happy as a man could be, sitting in a small town called Gunning.
 
And as the sheep said ... ewe ewe ewe ... its all about ewe!
 
Raymond
 
PS. Please hit Subscribe ... click Like .. do a dance .. make a comment ... be part of the journey and I'll tell you what happened on my way home. 
Comments
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Sally Snow
Reply
Soy chai latte? What happened to the green tea?You paint a lovely picture of Gunning. You should be getting $$ from the Tourism Board!
Raymond
Reply
Hey Sally. Just back home to a wet Blue Mountains.Something wonderful happened on the way home. Cant wait to write it up.
Mary-Ellen
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What a little treat this was to read! Gunning I know as it was where my mother grew up.I have pictures of their ol' Model T rattling along Collector Road... well it may have been hooning but I'm not sure if either the word or automobile capabilities existed then! If the baby boomer generation stories are to be believed it was more of a town of football on Saturday, church on Sunday and any piece of that lamb was edible. My great grandfather's favorite saying was apparently "there's no bones in tripe" (which is perhaps better understood with long patronage at the Royal Hotel!) It is amazing to me this renaissance of country towns where now soy, hollandaise and antiquariums meld with this past. Whoever said country folk are not inclusive or narrow minded must be trapped behind the Great Divide I reckon.
Raymond
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Hi Mary-Ellen Thank you very much. I love Gunning. It's somewhere between traditional and contemporary. You know, I drive into a little town and within minutes you can pick it. For instance just before Gunning is Collector which is old style country then just south is Gundaroo which is more Toorak than Goondawindi, with Gunning literally in the middle both geographically and socially. The Gunning you describe is not dissimilar to the Surry Hills of my youth. I was born within the sound of Souths scoring at the cricket ground. .
Noreen Solomon
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Ditto Sally's comment about the green tea. I'll add the bottomless paper cup of green tea. Did you finally realise how foul it tastes? Chai latte big improvement. What about the local pub - that's where you meet the real locals! Example - the Family Hotel at Tibooburra!
Raymond
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Hey Noreen ... I still love green tea and only indulge outside of my chosen drug in little country cafes. Remember the Tibooburra Hotel with Tony Backhouse and the baddest meanest no-toothed drunk cowboy requested we sing something from Bizet's - The PearlFishers. Probably not because you were in singing at the time.
Catherine
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Hi Raymond, I've been thinking lately that Gunning would be a nice place to live and now you've made me start planning a trip there.  I hope they sell real coffee though.  Pamela says Hi.
Raymond
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Hi Catherine .. This is only my second blog but already I get what the real interests are. I had thought it would be life, love and travel. But its the relative merits of coffee v chai. Have a look at Gundaroo as well. It is quite a buzzy little place about 40 k's away. Both places have fantastic cafes and restaurants ... And I say Hi to Pamela as well.
Raymond
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Hey Helen .. Nice town, Big wide streets from another age. Love the granite that surrounds it. I am going to camp in them one night.
Rosa Christian
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Hi Ray! Thanks for subscribing me. I love your blog, and Tommie's. I am in Canberra until mid March so if you are coming through anytime perhaps we can catch up over a...not soy chai latte. I hate chai latte. I especially hate soy. But could go a green tea or a straight chai. Or if you are travelling north Queensland anytime call in to my fisherman's hut at Balgal. Cheers and keep up the good work, 'Writing in the Desert' 2009.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Rosa. Thank you. I really love writing it. Both Canberra and North Queensland sound great. I lived in a hut in the Megalong Valley for many years. Just a square wooden hut with old church windows and a view over a valley, So I'll be there. Glad you have joined the journey.
Rosa Christian
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I think I just cancelled my comment or does it not go up until you have vetted it?
Raymond
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No Rosa. I was thinking of vetting you because of your anti-soy chai stance but decided to live and let live.
Helen
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Observations and images of Gunning from our own eSwagman. I think that it is almost as good as being there. (Except we miss out on the soy chai latte.) I really loved the golden sunset with the distant horizon. The fading images of the swaggies from times past remind us of the traditions of life on the road and the challenges and grittiness of this existence. Your plans and their realisation are great Raymond!
Trish reid
Reply
sounding like jh or bmc is one thing, worse would be sprouting eyebrows, shiny trackie or a creeping split up yr leg. check out the shop windows if yr travelling w/out a mirror. good to hear you and tommie are doing well xx
Raymond
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Hey Trish. My parents were lived in Kirribilli and I caught him coming out of Kirribilli House. I screamed out ... Hey Johnny .. they are are throwing their kids overboard.. He almost crapped his Vodaphone Wallabies jacket, Hope you are well. Rxx
Sally (James not Snow)
Reply
I love it when old cinemas find a new life. we stayed in one in Pemberton(WA) this time last year which had been converted to a B and B. Pemberton itself was a great country town, my favourite in sth west wa. I'm looking forward to hearing more of your travels.
Raymond
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Hi Sally...I love Pemberton but my favourite down there is Albany. When we get our trailer we will live on the beach down there for a while. Esperance beckons to and then up the coast to Broome. Thanks for commenting Sally. c ya Raymond
Heather
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Thanks for including me on your list. I can't take off on long trips yet so it is a treat to share your journey. I recently moved to Murray Bridge in South Australia so my (outward)journeys diverge in all directions from this spot: the Bremmer Valley, the Coorong, Deep Creek, Victor Harbor and the Adelaide Hills. The visit to Gunning was delightful, Thanks.
Raymond
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Hi Heather. That's my pleasure. I am really excited about this concept. I seem to pass through Murray Bridge quite often if you up for a coffee sometime. Feel free to share my travels. Raymond
Alynn
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You're awesome Raymond! Time to let it all hang out and let the whole world know about Hawkins and his amazing journeys of all kinds. (Watch that coffee thing, mate. We don't want you getting too hyper ...) Love to the dog.
Raymond
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Hey A... thats the nicest thing you've ever said to me.. actually its the ONLY nice thing you've ever said to me.. R
Helen
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I realise that this is off topic, but for those who have travelled with Raymond in Central Australia, Nicholas Rothwell's book review in the Review magazine of the Weekend Australian Feb 11-12, may be of interest. The book is based on the diaries of Frieda who was the wife of Carl Strehlow, founder of the Hermannsberg Mission. Nicholas says that this book is an indispensable contribution to the literature of remote indigenous Australia. Some of the quotes in the review are just lyrical, an evocation in words of the Inland.