The Hunter Valley, with its wineries, eateries, galleries and boutique accomodation, is a Mecca for tourists, and cashed up ones at that. On the fringe is Kurri Kurri, a township with few remnants of the architecture dating back to the early 1900s indicating that this place once enjoyed a mining boom. In the 1990’s all but one of the coal pits was closed and 11,000 people lost their jobs.
All these years later this little country town is still doing it tough. The Workers Club has been boarded up, and charity stores outnumber other retail outlets.
We loved walking around the town centre and chatted to a few locals at the Cafe. I also ducked in for a quick haircut where a delightful lass shared local knowledge about places of interest.
(Personal Message for Cat Balou, daughter of mine : – Confirmed that there were NO grey hairs. From a professional, sweetheart. Take that!)
Which reminded me of a recent read : Janesville, An American Story by Amy Goldstein, which details the impact that the closure of a car manufacturing plant in Wisconsin at the beginning of the recession in 2008 had on an entire community. Goldstein is a staff writer on social policy for the Washington Post and shared a win in the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.
This non fiction effort covers a period of five years which is fascinating in that the author follows characters from how they coped initially with their dismissal from their jobs and where they are down the track. It covers all that you would suspect, including homelessness, suicide, family breakdowns, loss of self esteem etc. It showed how the loss of one industry impacted on other industries and how the entire community was effected economically and socially.
On the positive it explains how some workers on the assembly line were able to set themselves up through study to become successful professionals, as well as how the community worked together to assist each other . “Barb believes that Lear’s closing was the best thing that could have happened. It’s closing taught her that she was a survivor. It taught her that work exists that is worth doing, not for the wages, because you feel good doing it”.
Although the American politics and mechanations went way over my head it was interesting to read that government funding into retraining programs did not have the successful outcomes anticipated.
The coffee is great in Kurri Kurri which labels itself “A Country Town With Heart”, and is worth a visit if travelling around the Hunter. It also has the largest number of murals on the mainland.
Let’s inject a few bob into our country towns this year, and hey, we might even learn something of our history, our heritage, along the way. And take it from an old girl: one five star marble bathroom looks the same as the next.
TRIVIA : – Kurri Kurri has produced the largest number of first grade Rugby League players in :