Spend five minutes talking to anyone in Wagga and they’ll tell you what the city needs. Another police station, more parking, even an indoor entertainment centre. It’s easy to look at our neighbours and wonder why we’re “missing out”.
But when you step back and take a look around, this is actually a pretty good place to live. Most people would be able to find a home within their budget without having to sell a kidney and even though the summers can be stinkers and the winters bitter, there’s those few months of spring and autumn that are absolute magic.
Sydney doesn’t get four seasons, it’s just cool and smoggy then humid and smoggy with the occasional burning of the mountains to vary the colour of the sky. Melbourne, on the other hand, gets all four seasons in one day, which has commuters wearing skirts while carrying overcoats, umbrellas and snowshoes just in case.
Yes, they’ve got the public transport and trams are good fun if you’re not driving near them, but who’d willingly drive into Carlton or Balmain if they didn’t have to? Seriously, remove the public transport and you’re left with Los Angeles: A sprawling sea of traffic jams by the sea.
And what’s so good about the ocean anyway? An enormous salty mess full of bitey creatures that wants to rust your car away alongside a searing hot strip of sand that’s invariably filled with English backpackers.
“But what about the great restaurants?” some of you will cry. Do you mean the expensive hipster ones that serve cauliflower, chickpea and almond fritters (seriously) alongside deconstructed mochas, or the ones that serve Riverina produce up at greatly inflated prices? I’m sure the $69 steak is delicious, but it probably tastes just as good down the street in Wagga.
Sure, we’re unlikely to see Taylor Swift visit town and theatre fans still need to go to the big smoke if they want to see Anthony Warlow on stage in The Wizard of Oz, but we still get some great performers visiting our humble Murrumbidgee home and the community production of Wicked last year was pretty good.
So while the parking can be a bit of a hassle at times, you can usually find somewhere to stow the car within a block of your destination. And yes, there are crooks about causing trouble, but at least we don’t have the big gang problems of the major cities.
You can keep your big cities. A river on a hot day with good mates is all we need.