Thursday, 28 August 2014

The sad demise of country town centres.

Rockhampton is a pretty little town built on the banks of the Fitzroy River. There's a bloody great sculpture of a bull or maybe it's a cow, to announce you have arrived and as one of those 'Keep you awake' trivia questions on the highway asked what the place is famous for and then a kilometre later Cattle is flashed up as the answer, one imagines that Rocky developed as a rural trade centre for cow farmers.
Now these early folk must have been great drinkers cos there are lots of pubs, even though some of them have been transformed into sort of flash eateries, and they must have had plenty of cash cos there are beautiful buildings associated with their trade and they might also have been just a little naughty, cos the Court house is also something to behold.
The main street runs 2 lanes each way divided by a parade of mature trees, which provide shade for parking and some sort of food for birds and bats, so they can shit all over your car while you have a good look around. 

I love country town centres. They are generally are not filled with the usual chain shit shops and are definitely worth a stroll along, even if it just so you can feel a bit smug about the strange stuff that rural people want to buy and wear and have.
Rocky high street is no different. It must have been majestic in it's day. Shops like Stewarts Department Store are clinging on and if you want an outfit to wear to a wedding or the Races then this is the spot to go. Shoes, fascinators, frocks and handies all ready to set you up from toe to head top. I admit to feeling more than a little underdone in my shorts and thongs. My Nanna would have been perfect cos she always thought, rather demanded, that we dress up to go to Town. I wonder how long Stewarts can hang on. A long time I hope.

Most of the old buildings have been given the usual tosh about to make the ground level facades a bit modern looking but this has not saved 'em. There are lots of empty ones.

AT the end of the street there's a new Target centre. It looks exactly the same as any other little shopping centre anywhere at all. We didn't go there.

If it's true, 'all things old are new again' then there is hope for Town centres everywhere. I like to think that if I return to this lovely town in a few years' time that maybe retailers will  have been drawn back into town.
All those huge soulless tin sheds on the outskirts of town did not draw us in. I am sure the locals use 'em, same as we have to at home, but I fancied a little holiday memento and have left empty handed, except for the shells Steve picked at the beach - not very helpful to the local economy at all.

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