A Country Town ( Goulburn)

Almost There

Most local people would know Goulburn as the town that holds a high security prison. The notorious mass killer Ivan Milat is serving his sentence there together with other high profile miscreants.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacker_murders

Please try and read the above link. It is almost as good as a Wallander Mankell thriller.

In its heyday Goulburn was the hub of Australia’s wool industry. Australia from the early eighteen nineties till the nineteen seventies was ‘riding on the sheep’s back.’ One of its main export income was wool. With cheaper cotton and synthetics entering the market, wool became much less competitive and growing wool now is a minor part of agriculture. A reminder of this wool Empire of Goulburn is a very large concrete sheep near the Sydney-Melbourne highway turnoff to Goulburn. Inside this large sheep one can buy Chinese made wool trinkets, whistles, scarfs, and Australian made socks as well as aboriginal artefacts.

Goulburn as a result of the collapse of wool became a town looking for its former but lost glory. We bought a farm in 1996 not far from this town, about 20 kms away. At that time one could have bought a 4 bedroom freestanding house for about $350,000.- and today the same house is still selling for $350,000.- It’s a beautiful but a stagnant rural town. I am sure it would provide an amazing opportunity for Sydney siders to cash up on their $2 million house and whoop it up in Goulburn. It houses an excellent library and an even better Art Gallery. In winter it can be a bit cold and bracing, but with central heating and a roof full of solar panelling it would be a most pleasant town to live in. It also has a very nice ‘Workers Club and RSL.’ ( Returned Soldiers Club)

A few days ago we went to re-visit our former country town. We usually like to go back to past lives. Reminiscing about places and lives of the past is the prerogative of growing old, especially while it is still possible. One never knows when the time will arrive the mobility scooter or ‘Eventide Care-Home’ beckons!

After arrival, and being hungry we popped into the Workers Club. I ordered curried sausages with peas and mashed potatoes. Helvi ordered roast chicken with vegetables. Both were terrible. I never thought that mash and sausages could be so failing. Helvi’s chicken was some kind of muscled thigh that belonged to a very scrawny old chook looking for a long gone rooster. My curried sausages were chopped up bits of something drowning in what I assumed was a curried flavoured sludge sobbing to be rescued. The peas were absent or fled somewhere else. The mash was lumpy.

In Australia we are the world champions in gambling. All clubs provide subsidised cheap meals paid for by the poker machine addicts. You can see them on the way to the toilets. Elderly or not so elderly people, transfixed by the ghoulish lights of the poker machines. Sometimes plastic shopping bags next to the players on the floor. A sad sight, if ever there was. After a couple of beers drowning the half-eaten lunches, we left for a solid walk around Goulburn.

On the walk back to the car we came across a man sprawled out on the pavement. We had walked past him previously and noticed his dishevelled appearance, but he was seated on one of those updated modern square public seating arrangements surrounded by pretty greenery between the pavement and the road. He must have slumped off his seat. People walked past this man. We stopped and thought of finding out what might be the matter. He looked to be in his mid thirties and appeared motionless. I asked if he was alright but no response. I then decided to phone triple zero for emergency. By that time a few passers-by had stopped too.

As I was giving information to the emergency number, the man moved his hand and showed therefore to be alive. He picked himself up and mumbled a few words. The emergency phone lady decided to cancel the ambulance. The man went back to his previous seat and grabbed his tobacco that had spilled on the pavement. He mumbled something that he was alright and no help was needed. We felt sorry. How does it get to that state? He would have been a healthy young man once. Did he take some tablets or did he have a health problem?

We hope to have a better visit next time. Perhaps we will give clubs a miss seeing that gambling gives us cheap meals. A bit like being hypocritical of an industry that causes so much harm.

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23 Responses to “A Country Town ( Goulburn)”

  1. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Unfortunately this sort exists here too in large numbers. I try to imagine that they were little boys once whose mother loved them, but sadly in today’s world that isn’t always the case. So many broken families, drugs, mental illness in both generations. The problem has become so prevalent I sometimes feel government has given up trying to turn the pages back. So many without work and who turn to crime, both neighborhood crime and cyber attack. It takes a lot of attention on the part of those of us who walk the straight and narrow to keep safe while still recognizing that there is a large part of our fellow citizens who need a foot up.or a hand out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I think that this emphasis on material wealth bringing happiness is misguided. To turn it around we might have to look deeper into countries who seem to be poor yet defy us by showing us smiles and happiness.
      There has to be some middle road whereby sharing and equality is more balanced. One reads those statistic that some people own more than entire countries.
      In Australia more people are now impoverished while the rich are getting richer but yet more unhappy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I really like how you describe the food you eat. It is so funny and it makes me smile and laugh as well. Love how you put words to virtual paper.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yvonne Says:

    Just seeing that name “Ivan Milat” gives me a big shiver. And, then (because we lived in SA) there were the Snowtown murders, and the band of professional men who kidnapped and raped and killed teenage boys in Adelaide. That was known as the Family Murders. Then there were the Truro murders; one of the victims was a school mate of our sons. There’s been (and still is) a lot of bad stuff going down in Australia!

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Yvonne. Is it not amazing that years later a relative of Milat with the same name would re-enact another murder.
      What a sinister coincidence.

      Liked by 2 people

    • algernon1 Says:

      Bit like disappearances Yvonne. Michelle Pope disappeared in 1978 and was a friend of my sister. She disappeared just before finishing year 12. She still talks about the empty desk next to her during her HSC where she would have sat. A few months later Alan Fox and his fiance disappeared. He was a prefect in the year above me at school.

      Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        People go missing, sometimes forever. When we went to the police re the stolen cyclamen, the police station had a sheet of photographs of missing person stuck on the wall.
        You look at their faces and you ask how it is possible that people disappear. Many turn up, but some never.

        Like

      • Yvonne Says:

        I don’t know how parents cope when their child goes missing. They’ll always wonder what happened to them.

        Like

  4. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Ah the infamous sauage mash and peas meal. I ate st one, can’t remember which, on an early date with by new boyfriend (now husband). He too was raving about the cheap prices and at the time, decent food. I wasn’t sure about his potential if that was his idea of impressing me with his generosity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Generally, a mash, peas and sausages is a safe bet. This time it was dreadful and an insult to the humble sausage.
      I impressed my beloved with a knitted mauve coloured safari suit with gold- buckled jacket and flared pants. A kind of Liberace fallen on hard times. It is a miracle she stayed.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. anneharrison Says:

    A sad tale, of part of the world too often hidden from view. When I think of Goolburn I think of the Paragon Cafe, a perfect place to stop for refuelling on a long drive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The Paragon is still there and the owners still sit outside drinking coffee. We have had a couple of meals there but next to the Goulburn Court-house is another eating place, the ‘Rose café.’
      Many times I would attend a request to attend a pre- jury choosing event. Sadly, I have as yet to be chosen as part of a jury. The lawyers take a look and decide not to include me in a jury.
      Is there something in my countenance that lawyers feel is a disadvantage to their case?
      It is odd.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Big M Says:

    You forgot to mention the Paragon Cafe, which hasn’t changed since 1950!

    We stopped for a young bloke in similar circumstances one night. Onlookers doing bugger all for him, but then advising me that I may exacerbate his spinal injury by rolling him on his side ( he was gurgling on his own vomit), probably bought a bad pill in the hotel toilets. Police weren’t particularly interested in him, but tried to search the nearby Park for ruffians. Don’t know how this happens to so many young people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The Paragon is still there, Big M. In fact the man who had collapsed was just near there.
      We felt a bit sad. He wasn’t old. He mumbled he was alright, but he wasn’t. I mean, what was that compared with our rotten lunch?
      You see young children, all enthusiastic about little discoveries. Some years later they topple over and end up prostrate on a footpath.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. GP Cox Says:

    Unfortunately, there are too many of those people around. I too came upon a sleeping woman in the walkway by my apartment a few years back – I at first thought dead, but turns out – she was passed out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    It’s that way here too Gerard. Such a pity.

    Like

  9. algernon1 Says:

    Its a sad indictment of our society generally Gerard and not just in Australia. I’ve a homeless friend I talk to every day at work. Jimmy is 39 and looks as old as I do. An injury on his way to work meant he was in hospital for a period. He lost his job and couldn’t make rent and ended up on the street. He’ll sleep in a motel if he has managed enough money and manages that 2 nights a week. I’ve got to know him over about a year and have noticed many people who help him, he in turn helps other on the streets like him. Sometimes it’s with food, others with money or just taking time out to have a conversation.

    Jimmys vice is coffee. He doesn’t drink or take drugs. Probably 50% of those on the streets are Ice addicts, more in country towns.

    I enjoy our little chats, he always gives me a hug afterwards. Recently I had a birthday and gave him enough for two nights accommodation, he was almost in tears. I should be giving you something he said. I replied you give me a beaming smile every day as well as conversation and a hug each time we meet, that’s worth more than any gift.

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am glad Jimmy got you as a friend, Algy.

      To take care of each other is the way forward. One never knows if in the future, ill luck or misfortune might strike. A good friend is sometimes better than a close neighbour. In our case we have a couple of good neighbours but the cyclamen thieving neighbour is not so good.
      Our government is not so good in torturing the most vulnerable, those refugees on Manus and Nauru.
      Your story of talking to Jimmy and caring for him makes my Sunday afternoon so much more cheerful, Algy.

      Like

  10. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Your description of the food had me gagging, Gerard! Great job. I would not be stopping there for lunch.🙂 The old people and gambling is interesting. If they are not blowing their rent and food budget, it doesn’t bother me. The oldsters I know who make a date with the casino see it as a form of entertainment, something to look forward to, like going to a football game. But gambling is like drinking, it can be an addiction. And then it is sad, or even tragic. As for the homeless; many, many sad cases. So many in the US are returned soldiers, people we have let slip through the cracks by a country that sends them off to war and then forgets about them. Some homeless people, like my brother, see it as a lifestyle. He likes to describe himself as a homeless man with a van and a bank account. He’s been homeless of ten years; they have been the happiest years of his life. So you never know. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Curt. Some homeless do make that choice. I have joined a gambling reform group. The machines in clubs give a rate of returns between 80 and 90%. This meant that the player would loose money over a longer period.

      However, many poker machines that were tested turned out to have been ‘fixed’ by increasing the number of gears on the rotating wheels that gave a return a lot less than were advertised. Money was lost much faster and the return to the clubs much bigger.

      The returned soldiers here too have a plight of neglect in aftercare. Alcohol, gambling and high rates of self-harm.

      Like

  11. Forestwoodfolkart Says:

    A reflection of modern society. There is some welfare but it is far from adequate and they push people out into the community because there is no other facility equipped to handle their needs. But it is more than this external issue, these people have not only lost their way, they have lost their motivation, their sense of belonging and other basic needs are not being met, so they give up all hope and motivation and try to escape reality any way that is available. One can only do so much, there is no easy solution but government should prioritize mental health and disability better.

    Like

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