Monday, September 27, 2010

Why I love Queanbeyan

As I walk along the streets of Queanbeyan, I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for my town.

I belong here. I am part of the community. And that’s something to be thankful for.

I haven’t lived here my whole life, but I was born here. My grandmother has lived here my whole life and, as a child, we used to visit her every week. As I grew older, I still visited her, though not as often. Plus, I have lived here for the past 14 years.

I love walking down the street and saying hello to the people that pass me. I love going for a quick dash to the shops and ending up in a long conversation with someone. And every time I go to the local shopping centre, I see at least one person I know. On a busy day, I might be saying hello to someone every five minutes. (There are times I have spent more time talking to people than I have in actually doing the shopping.)

I’m upset about the disappearance of the corner stores. (Originally, there were three corner stores within eight blocks of my house. Now there are none.) I think they fostered a sense of community which isn’t there with the big franchises. That said, I have also gotten to know people at my local Coles or BP.  I can talk to the people serving me with more than just the standard polite conversation you reserve for strangers.

I like knowing that, if anything ever happened and I needed help, there are many people around that I know would help me. When my youngest son was only two, I lost him. I had many people on the street looking for him. (It turns out, he had hidden under a lounge-room chair and fallen asleep!) When my grandmother couldn’t walk earlier this year, one of my neighbours told me she needed help and then went to get my youngest son from tennis. Later on, someone else asked me whether my grandmother was okay. It’s good to know I have neighbours who care.

But it’s not just the people - although they certainly are a big factor in making me feel like I belong. It’s the town itself. For all its faults, it is still a part of me. Or maybe I am a part of it. I know its streets, its stores, its river, its parks, its houses. They form the background of my life. Walking across the bridge to go to church in pink, frilly dresses. My cousins and I sneaking into the showground to play cricket or football. Taking my children for their first day of preschool and then school, the preschool I went to and the school my father went to. Sitting in the park, watching my sons climb trees. Even saying hello to the statue of John Gale every time I pass it with my children. And the unbearable sense of loss every time something changes, closes down, gets demolished or, in the case of Spotlight, moves.

It’s hard to convey this sense of belonging to people who don’t have it. People move around so much nowadays. There was a time when you lived in one town your whole life and all your family surrounded you. My grandmother is the only member of my family who still lives in Queanbeyan. Everyone else has moved. It’s become normal for people to live in a variety of different places. And that’s kind of exciting. Sometimes I wish I could do it too. But at the same time, I am thankful that I am still here. Because I think I get a sense of community that other people fail to even realise they are missing. 

But even if I moved, I would still belong somewhere. I would still belong to the Church. And like a home town, the Church has its faults. It is made up of imperfect people. But it is still a part of me and I am a part of it. And it’s nice to know that. And it’s nice to able to recognise how important that really is.


  1. I'm one of those people that has moved around a lot. Once a year for 10 years, at one point! It's interesting to meet new people and spend time in new places, true, but permanence is a whole lot better (especially since you don't have to pack and unpack every year!)

    My new home town has 50 people in it! My church is less than a block from my home, and I know everyone in town well enough to visit with when I see them out and about. The next town is 7 miles away and I know lots of people there as well. It's great to feel that you belong. My kids have visited twice in the year and a half since I moved here and I'm hoping they'll decide to make the move to somewhere in the area. They aren't as adventurous as I am, unfortunately. A 1500 mile move intimidates them a little, I think!

  2. Hi SL,

    Your new home town sounds great. I love small country towns.

    I hope your kids to decide to make the move, but I can understand how they feel. I'm freaking out a little just because next year I'll by visiting my sister in Brisbane (about 1200 kilometres away).

    One problem in staying in the one place for a long time is you can get a bit stuck. Anything over 500 kilometres away sounds scary! And I need to go on a plane, which I haven't done since I was six. I think I need to become a bit more adventurous myself.




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