I grew up in a small town called Berry on the south east coast of NSW. It is not as small now, but at the time the population was 550. Berry, town of trees, two hours drive from Sydney, was so small that no one had ever heard of it. Two blocks, two pubs, a Chinese takeaway and the donut van. Now everyone knows where it is, it is full of coffee shops, gift shops and a couple of fancy restaurants. The Chinese takeaway disappeared with MSG.
It was mostly Anglo Australians, so being from a multicultural background was enough that I never really fitted in at primary school and through most of high school.
I do appreciate that I did have the kind of childhood that you can only have in a small town- climbing trees, riding bikes, knocking around town by myself and later not having access to drugs, but having drunken bonfire parties instead. We travelled a lot to Sydney to visit relatives and friends of my parents whose kids were deep into the rave scene and sleeping around at the time.
By the time I was at the end of my high school years all I wanted to do was to get out. After my grand tour of Europe, I attempted to live at home in Berry for all of two months before I moved to Sydney to live with my cousins and I have never looked back.
I have lived in eight different suburbs with cousins, friends, boyfriends and my husband. I have been moved 12 times by cousins, my dad and moving companies. I have now been in this city for 16 years and still enjoy it. The harbour, ballet at the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens and fancy degustration menus. I love traveling to other cities, but there’s still nothing quite like flying over Sydney Harbour on the return flight and knowing that you are coming home to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I always find it hard to relate to those that have never moved away from a small town and ask me how I can live in such a big city. Big compared to what? London or New York? I don’t think so. In fact I would actually love to make another city my home for a time and having that handy European passport perhaps it will one day happen.
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