I have recently discovered that my spiritual home is not to be found in either Dungog, Morpeth nor Newcastle. We all went for a drive up that way on the long weekend. Tim's parents being willing participants in searching for places to live. I know one can't expect to drive down the main drag of any town and uncover the hidden charms and secrets of a place, but I think there does need to be something in the air that would compel one to seek further.
I'm not sure what is in the air in Dungog, except a bit of stray pesticide from the neighouring farms (ditto for Morpeth) and whatever nastiness leaks out from those suspicious looking sheds that hide broiler farms or pigs or other animals that never see the light of day. I'm only speculating about that, I know there are some organic farms up there etc. But those big long flat barns do look ominous. The landscape is sort of nice, a little flat maybe but I do like a pastoral vista. And there are not really that many of them around Sydney. So it's really slim pickings.
As far as who's living there goes, (according to the 2006 census) about 30% of the population have moved there in the last 5 years. Our age group and below has fallen in percentage of the overall, whilst people over 45 has increased. Most of the population is white from anglo backgrounds. But then that's true of anywhere outside the cities. So maybe we are a little too young to be moving there. But it's possible we might have that feeling about everywhere.....
Anyway, the best thing about Dungog that I could glean from my short and entirely superficial visit, was a good antique store called Dungog Antiques which had a great Deco split cane table and chair set. In the plantation style which I would have loved to squeeze in the car somehow, but couldn't. So for that reason and in the interests of living frugally I passed it by. I'm still sad about it. I did buy a picture of a medieval woman in profile in a lovely old wooden frame, to go in my kitchen though. Oh, Dungog also has a film festival which is what inspired us to look there in the first place.
Paterson, however down the road looked lovely. More verdant and the landscape undulated a little more. I don't think there is anything much to Paterson but it looks more like somewhere I could live.
Morpeth was a nice town but touristique. There I bought two plates with teal floral motifs on them to add to my haphazard dinner set that I building on. There is a particular type that I like. They have a great bakery called Morpeth Sourdough where according to Tim's mum, the owner/baker lost his hand somehow whilst in the pursuit of sourdough excellence. And he's still there. Committed. I cut off the top of one of my fingers once when I was cutting out shirts with a circular blade saw, but that's another story. Mine was reattached though whereas I think the baker is now a lefty...... or a righty, whichever the case may be.
Anyway, it was a cute town, it's pretty and they sell great ginger beer cordial but I don't think we want to live there. Although it may require more thought and further research. Same for Newcastle which looks like a very interesting place and definitely warrants more of an investigation, even if just for the purpose of a visit. But really, none of them felt right. The whole area is too far away from everyone. I think we'd get lonely. Maybe it's a good thing to at least know someone, or of someone, who could be a friend. Often people don't warm to me straight away, so it could be encouraging to have at least one person who has thawed as a starting point, then they can give any others the heads up that I'm really okay!
Photo: Paul Foley/Lightmoods