Being fairly visible online, I’m deliberately coy about location. If I lived in Melbourne, I would just say ‘Melbourne,’ and leave it at that because it’s both specific enough and vague enough. As it is, I don’t live in Melbourne. I live in a place that’s big enough that you can keep to yourself if you want to, but small enough that someone named Bill who writes a lot about politics and music is enough to identify you. I live in RARA.
“RARA” is my dear departed Godmother’s acronym for what politicians and the media refer to as “Rural and Regional Australia.” It’s a catch-all term to describe any part of Australia that isn’t one of the capital cities. In other words: most of it. RARA encompasses everywhere from large cities to one-horse towns, farmland to industrial centres. If you’re way out in the desert or deep in the bush, then you’re in the next level of RARA: Rural and Remote Australia.
I’ve no time for any silly city vs country stereotypes. I don’t think either is better or worse than the other in principle. Each needs the other. But the next time you feel (rightly) offended if someone calls you an inner-city latte-sipper because you have a heartfelt view about what’s going on, spare a thought for those of us in RARA.
I’ll tell you a little about my corner of RARA and to make it easier, I’ll describe it in the form of fashionable clichés.
Is it full of bogans*?
Partly, yes. Speaking of masses of bogans, did you see the grand final last week?
Is it full of hippy seachangers* and treechangers*?
Yep, them too.
Is it full of whingeing farmers?
Yes, but not as much as it used to be.
Is it impossible to get a decent coffee?
Only if you’re too lazy to walk half a block.
Is it full of right-wing, racist rednecks?
Of course it is! In exactly the same way that the cities are full of gay socialists. And nothing else.
There are lots of things that frustrate me about where I live and I won’t defend it from any reasonable criticism. If I complain about it, it’s because I’ve earnt that right. But if you want to bag non-metropolitan areas, as one, without ever travelling past the end of the tram lines, then frankly, screw you!
*Explanatory links added for international readers.