Where people in the street still say g’day

The good thing about living in a small town is that if you don’t know what you are doing, someone else will. Photo by Geoff Goodfellow
The good thing about living in a small town is that if you don’t know what you are doing, someone else will. Photo by Geoff Goodfellow

ON Dudley’s first day working at a local fruit shop, a customer asked him if she could buy half an apple.

He politely excused himself and went to see the boss for advice.

“Some twit out there wants to buy half an apple...,” he began, but paused when he saw the lady enter the boss’s office behind him, “and this lovely lady would like to buy the other half.”

The boss was impressed with the way he got out of that predicament and when the lady left with her half apple, he asked Dudley where he came from.

“Crookwell,” replied Dudley, “home of wild women and great hockey teams.”

“Is that right?” said the boss. “My wife is from Crookwell.”

“Really,” said Dudley, “what team did she play for?”

I DON’T know if Dudley is right about the wild women, but as a young lad on the loose many years ago I didn’t meet any.

However I certainly met some fine hockey players. What fertile breeding ground Crookwell has been for merino wethers, red soil potatoes and hockey players.

This district must have produced more state and Australian representatives over the years per hectare than any other town in the country.

There were seven players from Crookwell in the State team one year.

In the current Australian squad preparing for the London Olympics there are no less than two hockey girls from Crookwell - Kellie White and Emily Smith, as well as Olympic rower Brooke Pratley.

BACK in the day many local lads headed to Crookwell for hockey carnivals and I’ve got to tell you Todkill Park can get pretty cold in the middle of winter.

I recall one Sunday we all nearly died as huge clouds loomed up from the Antarctic before dropping their load of snow and ice on Crookwell. It was only a flagon of Frank Shepherd’s port that saved us.

The locals from Wheeo and Laggan were running around in shorts and shirtsleeves while we had layers of tracksuits. They breed ‘em tough at Crookwell.

“THE good thing about living in a small town,” says the sign on the counter of Lyneham’s in Crookwell, “is that if you don’t know what you are doing, someone else will.”

We were at Lyneham’s for a feed last week and what a fantastic trip down memory lane it was.

Russell and Maureen Lyneham have been running the place for nearly three decades and they always serve good old-fashioned tucker you won’t forget.

We had the roast of the day - a huge plate of delicious lamb or beef surrounded by a whole bunch of tasty vegetables. Crookwell old-timers still call their meal in the middle of the day dinner and the one at night tea.

They have toilets out the back, not bloody bathrooms like on American television shows, and everything is done with good grace and a minimum of fuss.

In one corner of the restaurant were 20 widows who get together once a month for a three course meal. At another table a couple of locals sat down and were immediately handed the newspaper before they ordered.

Maureen Lyneham makes apple pies to die for and she still cooks everything on her old wood oven. You sit among relics of a past era - walls and shelves stacked with old wares from the last century - blackened pots, shearers’ handpieces, old signs and much more, reminding us of our parents’ kitchens back in the middle of last century.

THERE is even a sock maker in Crookwell.

Would you believe a clothing manufacturer still going strong in an Australian country town using Aussie wool to knit into their magnificent socks?

You can buy the product from their shop attached to the factory or if you can’t get to Crookwell, Whytes in Moss Vale and Mittagong stock these dinky dyed Australian made goodies.

YOU’VE guessed it, we like Crookwell.

You walk down the street and people you have never met before look you in the eye, smile a friendly welcoming smile and say g’day.

I like that.

Funny, but the same thing used to happen in Bowral when I was a young bloke.

Times change, but if you want a reminder of how life once was in a country town, take yourself to Crookwell, have a hearty roast at Lyneham’s, buy a couple of pairs of Aussie socks at Lindner’s and go for a walk along the main street, then take the round trip home via Taralga and you’ll have a mighty good day.

We did!