the old bridge
I live in Mandurah, Western Australia. It used to be a country town, it is now the second most populated city in the state but in spite of population growth, the rampant sprouting of malls and fast food outlets, and on the surface appearing rather like an outer suburb of Perth, we have kept some rather quaint or quirky relics from our days as a ‘country town’.
Take, for example, our iconic bridge, known as The Old Bridge… because, there used to just be this one… then when I was a kid, we went to the grand opening of The New Bridge… very imaginative naming as you can see… it will get very confusing when the old bridge is reconstructed or replaced and becomes The New Old Bridge!
It is the law in this fine nation of ours, that vehicles must give way to pedestrians… but there are signs, posted at strategic points around Mandurah, that in direct violation of this, inform you that “pedestrians must give way to traffic”.
Our roadwork crews are the smartest and most helpful in all the land, for two or three months of this year, there was need for a detour in my suburb while a roundabout was built… no big deal, just drive the scenic route following the detour arrows… until you reach a T Junction… where they helpfully posted a detour arrow right, and a detour arrow left… very nice of them not to recommend I drive through the T junction and into someone’s house… I mean, without the sign we might all just drive straight ahead!
As much as I have often had to correct my overseas friends, that they shouldn’t expect to come to Australia and see kangaroos here, there, and everywhere… I must confess, the city rangers were once called out to retrieve a kangaroo that was swimming in one of the local canal estates, and a kangaroo did once race my school bus down the road.
You can park your car at the top of the beach, get out, stretch, smell the salt air, feel that tingle of excitement… and there really is nothing more exhilarating than psyching oneself up to walk down the path to the beach wearing shorts and flip-flops while being reminded by prominently posted signs that snakes inhabit the sand dunes… and they are a protected species. Protect me!
As the city has grown, the horse paddocks and farms around us have been stripped away, replaced with suburbs and ‘lifestyle communities’… but one crazy old relic of our country days remains, and can be heard crowing his little head off at four in the afternoon every day. I love that nut job of a rooster.
I have to lurk in my front shrubbery like a peeping Tom to get mobile phone coverage.
And finally, my mum and I, visiting a local cafe, ordered a classic Australian dessert, pavlova… only to be served baklava by a Chinese waitress who couldn’t understand our accent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mum laugh that hard, except for the time my dad quit in the middle of creating his voicemail message so that it said “please leave a message for ‘oh bugger it'”.
So come and meet us, we may be a city, but we still have village idiots, and very scenic and spectacular beaches and waterways for you to enjoy.