19 things you’ll recognise if you’ve ever lived in Wagga

Wagga Wagga is the place of many crows and many unique, quirky traits that make you realise you're from or in the City of Good Sports.

The people, past times and activities below are not all unique to Wagga but we bet a few long-term residents would know what we are talking about.

Do you have anything else to add to the list? Leave a comment below.

1. You know that 'Pomi' is not just slang for the British.

The Pomingalarna Reserve is located four kilometres west of Wagga and has a tough and rugged bike track winding over the hill. Many a high school formal after party has been held at the top of the hill with  teenagers wanting to enjoy a drink with a view.

2. You're the proud owner of a scar or horror story from the Rippa Slippa.

The slide at the old Wagga pool, which was moved from the Wagga beach (pictured above), used to loom above the establishment full of wonder and the promise of fun. But anyone who was 'lucky' enough to have ridden it knows that it was frought with danger, whether it was the bumpy ride to the bottom over the slide's joins or being thrust out at the end without ever knowing if you would crash into another person.

3. Cheesy songs from the 1990s still remind you of the Rollerama.

You are driving in your car and a song from the 1990s comes on and you cannot help but feel like you've heard it before. Chances are it was at the old Skateway or Rollerama at the showgrounds (pictured here, circa 1981) and Dobney Avenue. The roller skating rink was a source of fun for teenagers and had various locations in the city. Revellers would remember the choice tunes and the kamakaze soft drinks served at the kiosk.

4. Lapping the main street was perfectly acceptable Thursday night entertainment ... until you turned 18.

It seems a little bizarre. Sitting in your car and driving up and down Baylis Street for hours with the music turned up. The main street was fraught with 17-year-olds 'lapping', the latest dance music blaring from their cars and often pulling over to the side of the road, normally outside of Myer, to chat to other friends who had the same idea.

5. You are familiar with the 1.20am dash.

It is a problem that has faced many a Wagga party-goer. You are at one end of the main street and need to get into the pub at the other end of the street by lock-out. It's 1.20am but you just have enough time to make it, if you hurry.

6. You know that the Big Dipper is not just a constellation of stars.

The lookout at the top of Willans Hill is famous for its views to the east and west of Wagga. But if you drive up Willans Hill from the Botanic Gardens and turn right instead of left towards the lookout, you will encounter what is affectionately known at The Big Dipper (now closed to traffic). Drive to the end of the road way and you find yourself at the top of the southern peak of Willans Hill. Not only is the view outstanding but the race to the bottom is pretty exhilarating too.

7. You know what a river float is.

It's that stretch of the Murrumbidgee River from Eunony Bridge to the Wagga beach, which is frequented by people in summer time in inflatable devices filled with eskys containing a few beverages. It was the course for the Gumi festival before it was cancelled and after it was revived in 2011. The 'river float' starts with people jumping in the water just near Eunony Bridge to enjoy the two-and-a-half to three hour float to the Wagga beach.

8. You get annoyed when people call Wagga, Wagga Wagga.

Yes, that is its name but not all Wagga residents agree with the song. You can call Wagga Wagga, Wagga. Using the term Wagga Wagga is a clear indication you are not from around here.

9. You don't call any of the pubs by their full name.

If you get an invite to the Vic, Roms, the Cap, the Faz, the 'Ringal, the Sporties, the Duck, the Bridge, Mango pub, Gullie pub, the Tav, the Farmers or the Rissole, you know exactly where to go. And you know the difference between The Home and The Farmers Home. Please refer to above point about calling things by their full name.

10. You think the country should thank you for the Chiko Roll.

Because without Wagga, the world would probably not be aware of this deep fried delicious roll full of meat, cabbage, celery, barley, rice, carrot, onion, green beans and spices. The Chiko Roll was invented by Frank McEnroe and debuted at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show in 1951. You're welcome, Australia.

11. Floating home made inflatable devices down the river seems a legit excuse for a competition.

The Gumi Race was part of the annual social calendar for those growing up from 1976 until 1995. Residents and businesses would enter teams of people into the race to float down the river on their home made devices to win prizes and glory. The race ended because of insurance and health and safety reasons but was revived in 2011. Many new to the town wondered what was happening but those who remembered the original race already had their inner tubes ready.

12. You still refer to the Caltex service station near the hospital as Fincos.

Long gone are the days since the service station was actually called Fincos but those who remember the name would also recall the slushies, self-serve ice cream and thickshakes, pizzas and make-your-own burger bar. Fincos was the ultimate destination for late-night revellers.

13. You remember the piranhas in Lake Albert.

It sounds about as believable as crocodiles in the sewers or the Loch Ness Monster but piranhas in Lake Albert actually happened. A prankster thought it would be funny to release the fierce fish into the lake and cause a panic among the city. Luckily, the fish were removed and order was restored to the iconic Wagga body of water.

14. You have taken a visiting friend or family member to see the five o'clock wave ... and giggled the whole car ride there.

When you tell people Wagga has a beach, they are shocked at how that's possible 500 kilometres inland. And in that beach is the five o'clock wave, one of Wagga's biggest draw cards and mysteries. Tourists and visitors often ask the question 'how can an inland river possibly have a wave?' Simple - it cannot. The 'wave' that is often seen at the Wagga beach at five o'clock is from an outlet of water upstream. Sorry tourists, Wagga is not a surfing destination.

15. You remember when Vegemite and Peanut Butter were renowned residents of the Botanic Gardens.

As a child, the best part about taking a tour of the zoo at the Botanic Gardens (apart from the guinea pig castle) was ending up in the farm area with Vegemite the donkey. When Vegemite moved on to greener pastures, he was replaced by Peanut Butter. The adorable donkeys would come to the fence to greet visitors and children would laugh at their edible names.

16. Sundays were spent riding on the miniature railway.

Sundays at the Botanic Gardens were not complete without a ride through Willans Hill on the miniature railway. You would choose footwear specifically so you met the requirements to ride the train.

17. You know where to find the best bargains at the swap meet.

The Wagga Swap Meet has been running for more than 20 years and older residents would remember its first years. It has since become a must for bargain hunters, who know to clear their calendars on the third Sunday of July each year. But no one minds braving the cold if it means finding a bargain or two.

18. You have lost a shoe or broken a thong at the Red Lion.

All teenagers are subjected to a rite of passage when they turned 18. For Wagga teens, that used to be the Red Lion. You knew you were at the Red Lion if you stepped on the carpet and could watch the alcohol that had been spilled on the floor bubble up around your feet. Or if you were walking and suddenly realised your shoe was about 10 paces behind you. The sticky floors, the smoky upstairs dance floor and the room of lounges made the Red Lion a favourite watering hole for over 18s.

19. You remember when the major department stores had coffee shops in them.

Coffee shops were a feature of many stores throughout the city. There were coffee shops inside Kmart, Grace Brothers, Northside (pictured) and other department stores and chain stores in Wagga before the bigger shopping malls were developed and coffee shops were abundant on every street corner.


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