I used to live in Farwell Creek. It was actually called Bowenville and it was in a slightly different part of Queensland – but it was a one-horse town in the very truest sense of the word… I owned the horse.The main road had bypassed the town years before. The railway line still passed through, but there was no real station, just some stock yards and a siding. As you drive into towns like this, they look remote and lonely, but that’s a bit misleading.
There’s a sense of community in small towns which you don’t get anywhere else. Everyone knows everyone – and while that can sometimes be a bit claustrophobic, there’s no doubt that when things go wrong, the community comes together in a quite remarkable way. When I started writing this book, I wanted to capture that small town feeling.
Just as the pub is the centre of social life in Farwell Creek – so it was in Bowenville.
It was the place we went to talk about the weather and the price of cattle, play a game of pool and eat. The meals weren’t fancy – but they were good.
We had a school – sometimes there was one teacher. Sometimes two. The headmaster lived in a small house next to the school. These photos were taken quite recently. There’s been some modernisation around the school – the sun shades are new – but the buildings are the ones I knew.
All of the buildings in the town were timber – and mostly on stumps. The air flowing under the houses helped cool them in the blistering hot summers, and wooden houses on stumps fared better in the wet seasons, when the ground moved.
This is the house I lived in when I was a teenager. Most of the houses in town were similar, as are the houses in Farwell Creek.
There was a fire in my small town, but it wasn’t the teachers’ cottage that burned down. It was our house. Or at least part of it. Everyone raced from the pub to help put the fire out – and most of it was saved. Some time later, the town formed the Bowenville Bush Fire Brigade, and acquired our very own fire engine. It wasn’t until some years later that the ‘fire station’ was built.
We didn’t have a Bachelor & Spinster Ball to raise money for our fire brigade. Back then, B&S Balls were not as popular as they are now. To learn more about B&S Balls, visit the Bulldust And Bowties Ball site.
Farwell Creek has a farm supplies store, owned by Hailey’s family. Bowenville didn’t. The nearest one was in the next town, some 18 miles away. Feed and farm supplies stores are fascinating places when you are a kid. Full of no end of interesting and exciting stuff. Hay bales can so easily become castles and forts.
We did have a post office – in fact, my Dad was a mailman. He drove a battered old red ute, and delivered mail two or sometimes three times a week to surrounding properties. He took newspapers, groceries and the occasional drum of engine oil or sack of grain at the same time.
Bec and Jean live in a post office almost identical to the one in Bowenville.
I have so many fond memories of my small Queensland town. Riding my pony into the pub. Dances in the old hall. Helping load hay bales onto a truck. There’s always someone to help mend a roof or fix a stock yard or install a water tank. You have to be pretty self sufficient in a place like that…. because the rest of the world is a long way away…