Posted On 14 Jul 2021
Nikk Carmichael

How’s the gentrification of our rural towns? Are you as outraged about this as literally nobody else in the world? Same. Read more to find out what’s been going on in Wee Waa.

I am a city kid at heart. Northern Beaches to be precise. Then I became a converted (Central) “Coastie” in adulthood. And I loved it! It’s an awesome spot, with nice sea breezes, proximity to everything… or almost everything as I shall soon reveal. It was like the Northern Beaches 15-20 years ago.  

Wee Waa – by comparison – is a little bit country and (other than a brief stint living in Tamworth at the start of the 90’s) I have not lived in such a rural place for some time. I didn’t like country living and it didn’t like me.

Until… Wee Waa!!! Or “The Waa” as the locals call it.

I adore it. I don’t know anybody! It’s awesome!

Being someone with the ability to work remotely gives you the privilege of being wherever on earth you like. So, here I am, leading the charge saying, “To hell with this CBD business cr*p! Pack your wagons, go forth and explore… as long as you can get internet”.

The Gentrification of The (Wee) Waa

Wee Waa really is a stunning place.

But am I ruining it? Are folks like me who move into these lovely little (often dying) rural towns kind of starting the gentrification process? I mean, there IS a coffee shop/bakery. They DO make latte’s. Or at least they do now that I’m here.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Here’s an anecdote to mark my point.

When I first got the keys for this place late last year, Marama and Emily (my daughter) came up. They went up to the local shops and came back with housewarming gifts. Emily’s gift was a set of fairy lights. She thought they’d look nice along the verandah. She was right – they look amazing along the verandah. They’ve got that great, hiddle-de-piggldy, haphazard layout. They’re a warm white tone and they remind me of those wedding venues everybody loves. Honestly, this verandah is twelve feet wide and runs along the front and down one side of the house. I’ve played gigs at weddings that have had less groovy spaces for the ceremony!  The fairy lights really make it, but… they only go down one side. There were only 200 fairy lights. The job calls for 400. No biggie, we’ll go and get more.

Me: “Where did you get them, sweetie?” 

Emily: “Up at the shops.” 

Okay. Can’t be hard, there’s only like five shops in the whole town. I’ll find them later. I procrastinated. Months passed and I forgot. But now I had guests coming and I wanted my fairy lights.

It’s All Good & Nice Until You Can’t Find Fairy Lights…

Seems fairy lights are pretty easy to find anywhere in late November. But, not so much now. No worries, I thought. I’ll grab some when I’m down on the Central Coast. Everything is on the Central Coast, right? Nope! All I want is 200 Mirrabella warm white LED fairy lights. How hard is it?

My next step was to go online. Yes! The internet points me to a set of 200 LED warm white solar powered lights. BUY HERE the button says. Yes, say I. Send now! They come and they’re… the wrong ones. Not the nobby, pointy, Christmas-lights kind of bulbs at all but just… dots. And square dots at that. Which is not the lovely, romantic feel I was going for at all.

It won’t do. It just will. Not. DO!

So, I go back to the internet, unamused by it having led me astray (again!) but determined. Turns out with a little *research* all the while they were…

At Mitre 10. In Wee Waa.

So, there’s nothing else for it, I have to walk the (literal) three minutes to our local hardware store, push through the swinging, saloon doors, wait until the dust settles and then mosey on in. The piano that’s honkying and tonkying over in the corner is going to come to an abrupt halt. There’ll be the sound of tobacco spit hitting its mark in a spittoon in a far corner. 

I know that they won’t have those fairy lights on their shelves at this time of year. Why would they?  

This is the country!

I don’t want to be accused of stereotyping (as I may well be doing it) but these guys are all toughened, hardened, folks of the land who will come up and put a bullet in a dying dog’s head in the middle of the street even though they loved that dog and their kids love that dog and maybe they’ll only shed a single quiet tear over it but stay really stoic and….

Here I am. A grown man in a Star Wars t-shirt, wandering into the local hardware store and stating to the burly man behind the counter that I am new in town and I….. would like……. to put in a special order for a pack of 200 Mirrabella warm white LED fairy lights.

No. My wife didn’t send me. Yes, this is my fairy light fixation and mine alone.

Who Cares About a Reputation, Right?

So, I’ll probably be forever ‘Fairy Light Guy’ around town. I’ve often wondered what the rumours might be about me around here. I haven’t been in Wee Waa all that long, but I did make the mistake of telling the real estate agent what I had intended to do with the property when I bought it. He informed me that he, himself, was a bit of a singer and was quite interested and he was hoping to come and have a look when it was all done.  

At that final visit where he came to drop off the breadboard with their logo on it (such a lovely thought) he asked me whether I’d like him to introduce me to all his muso friends in town.  

I said, “Oh good God no! Last thing I want is any musicians hanging around at this stage before I’ve got all my stuff in and locked down, security cameras up, etc and then build my studio, soundproof everything and install its multi track system. I’m really not ready for that and won’t be for months, maybe even a year. But thanks. I’d kind of prefer to just stay under the radar for the time being.”

He turned a little white. He held his smile but you could see the strain at the corners of his mouth. You could see it in his eyes. He had already spilled. I could just picture the two old bar flies at the local pub saying “I heard he produced Bon Jovi!”

(Groan)

I don’t even like Bon Jovi! Though, I have been caught singing ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ in the right environment..

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