“Are you from here?” is always a good question to ask someone you meet for the first time in a country town. In larger cities, people are much more likely to ask you what you do for a living. But in country towns, establishing where you’re from usually means “six degrees of separation” can often be reduced to just one or two.
The woman I spoke to earlier today obviously knew that rule. When I replied with the same question, she told me, “Oh, I’m from a small town, you wouldn’t know it, in country NSW”. “Try it”, I thought to myself, confident that I’ve lived and travelled around most of the state.
When she mentioned she was from Matong (a village near Wagga), I quickly mentioned my friend Kate had lived there for a number of years. The conversations flowed. She’s one of the main reasons I’m working in the arts today. Our parents owned the pub. Kate did paintings of the pub. You know Brian died? I last saw her in Townsville. She’s one of my best friends. There was much to connect us, and of course I called Kate straight away.
Our conversation continued at the opening of an exhibition by a local photographer, Sam McPherson. It’s also where I met the woman’s sister!
The exhihibition was being held in a gallery at the base of the Conservatorium of Music, not far from the Lismore Regional Gallery. I’d never seen the “hole in the wall gallery” before, but the woman I spoke to told me many people had mentioned to her they had previously been in the same space that was once Lismore High School.
Sam takes photographs of nature. “He’ll tell you about some places, but he keeps others secret, because they’re special to him”, one of the people speaking at the exhibition opening said. https://mcphersonphotographics.com/ For his part, Sam didn’t speak, as he has a disability. It was interesting to be surrounded by a large number of people using sign language.
There’s a lot of terrific art to be found around Lismore, including some wonderful public art, such as street paintings and sculptures.
Overall, it’s been a day for getting out and about around town.
I started the day of adventure at the Robinson’s Lookout. Located the top of of Girard’s Hill, I always remembered the lookout offered splendid views over the city. Thirty years later, and the views are somewhat obscured by trees, which is both a good and bad thing.
A walk into town took me through some bushland, sports fields, and through some housing.