A lovely Sunday today, spent at the local primary school’s monthly craft market in the morning. Picked up some home-made quince jam, found my daughter’s birthday present (2 in 2 months’ time), and had a coffee while Master Four jumped around like a mad hatter on the jumping castle. As usual we bumped into someone we knew, which is always nice. It’s days like this that make me glad I moved to Ballarat.
What was envisaged to be a 12 month trial has turned out to be somewhat longer. In fact, it has been five years since we moved to Ballarat from Mount Waverley, for Mr Bookgrrl’s work (and sanity). It was five years at the end of May, marked by the annual sheep-dog trials in Casterton which are always mentioned on the local TV news.
With both of us having grown up in country towns or regional centres (South Gippsland for Mr Bookgrrl and Geelong and Western Victoria for me), it wasn’t such a big step moving away from Melbourne. It was a town with which I was familiar, having done my librarianship diploma at the University of Ballarat, commuting from Geelong. As a child I would go to Ballarat for orthodontist appointments, and it was always the big city- it had a McDonalds!
What I enjoy about Ballarat is the lifestyle. I can walk into the town centre, the lake, local primary school, supermarket and post office. It’s a lifestyle I would not have been able to afford in Melbourne. Everyone is quite nice and friendly, and quite proud of their city- both the place it holds in Australian history and the town itself.
An issue which sometimes frustrates me is that the civic pride also manifests itself in a belief that you can only be considered a local if you have been born in Ballarat- and only locals have any idea what is best for Ballarat. There is also a suspicion of interlopers from Melbourne- a few times we have been asked where we’re from, and we have learned to say “we lived in Melbourne, but my family are from Geelong/South Gippsland”.
I do miss Melbourne- or rather the friends that I made there. I see them as often as I can, but with children and the perceived distance between Melbourne and Ballarat, it’s not as often as I would like. As a result, my commuting to Melbourne for work is somewhat of a lifeline I am reluctant to cast off.
Ideally I would like to move back to Melbourne, when finances permit. I’d like to stay settled here while the kids do school, as my own schooling was somewhat disrupted with moves from town to town. For now I am content to while away my sunny Sunday afternoon here in Ballarat :).