Across the River with Geoff Goodfellow | August 9

Last week we spent some time in Griffith. Such a vibrant, culturally rich and agriculturally productive piece of the Australia.

We always return from a trip into the bush pondering why so many people choose to live in our big cities, when they could enjoy a great lifestyle in a country town. 

I know... jobs, family ties and a preference for city living. But surely there must be hundreds of thousands of people living in Sydney who don't want to be there. Yet every day they still trudge across the city in cars for hours as they travel to and from work, continually complaining about the traffic and house prices. 

Yes indeed, who would want to live in Sydney, with the daily grind of congestion, filthy air, dodgy trains, long commuting times, ridiculous house prices or half hourly traffic updates on radio? But each to their own.

SILLY BILLY: Why tangle with the Sydney traffic each day when you could live in the bush? Great place to raise kids. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow.

SILLY BILLY: Why tangle with the Sydney traffic each day when you could live in the bush? Great place to raise kids. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow.

The big regional centres like Griffith are impressive, with universities, good schools, hospitals, sporting facilities and all the creature comforts of Sydney without the chaotic gridlock. In between them are delightful smaller country towns dotted among the farmland. The people there are friendly and the local radio stations so different to Sydney.

On our trips out to the bush we have heard a lot of advertisements for sheep drench or foot rot solutions and once heard a playful plug for a local Mudgee wine that had "so much personality you can drink it on your own and not be lonely.” What a wine, eh! You could marry it.

Granted there are no shark-infested beaches in the bush, no seedy nightclubs or ridiculously over-priced restaurants selling fried moss spore or rabbit gonads in fennel, but I am sure folks living in the bush survive without those modern trappings of Sydney sophistication.

Country kids may not have trendy tattoos or designer underpants, but they can skin a rabbit, shoot a fox, drive a truck, crutch a flyblown sheep, swing a gate and deliver a calf before they get to high school and certainly don’t need six years of a veterinary science degree to put a crook chook out of her misery.

So why wouldn’t some of those nearly five million people crammed into Sydney want to get out into the fresh air, open spaces, cheap house prices and relaxed country living? Who knows?  

Now for Dudley, who was telling me about a Sydney accountant travelling out in the country looking to buy a lifestyle property last week, when the car spluttered to a halt beside his farm. The accountant popped the bonnet, fiddled around, tried the motor, but it was stone dead.  

Out of the blue he heard a voice telling him to take off the carbie, give it a shake, bang it on the strainer post and try again. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he looked around to see it was a goat giving him this advice. 

So he took off the carburettor, gave it a shake, banged it on the strainer post and reconnected things all up. Sure enough, it went like a dream. He thanked the goat and sped off to the nearest pub, still trembling when he sat down at a bar stool beside Dudley.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost mate,” remarked Dudley. “Are you alright?”

“Bit shaken,” said the accountant. “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me just out of town.”

“What happened?” asked Dudley.

“Well I broke down,” said the accountant. “I tried everything, but the car wouldn’t start. Then this goat stuck its head over the fence and told me to take off the carburettor, give it a shake and bang it on the strainer post. I did all that and the flamin’ car started first time.”

“Was it a white goat with a crook left eye?” asked Dudley.

“No! It was brownish.”

“You were lucky she was in the paddock,” said Dudley.

“The bloody white one with the crook left eye knows bugger all about carburettors.”

 – Geoff Goodfellow