A Hidden Gem probably best describes the wonderfully quaint little country township of Nar Nar Goon, which is incidentally, the aboriginal word for Koala. If I thought that my camera went wild when I recently visited the mural town of Mirboo North, it simply went into overdrive in the mural township of Nar Nar Goon.
Situated in beautiful Gippsland, just 61kms south-east of Melbourne, it has a population of about 1,000. Known locally as "The Mural Town," it has its pub, small shops, railway station, schools, CFA fire station and its community halls. What it also has is some of the best murals I've seen in Australia, including those famed paintings on the walls of the town of Sheffield in Tasmania. Its history tells us that the Post Office opened in the town in 1881 and the railway line arrived a bit later. There's a large mural showing the delivery or receipt of the mail by a rather grim looking Postmaster and another wall in the town shows a steam engine, presumably taking the local milk cans off to other towns.
Before I take you on a fabulous journey back to the past, let me start with some modern day art provided by the local school children. Three mosaic murals depicting aboriginal themes are on display in a local park in the centre of the town.
Standing nearby on the corner of Nar Nar Goon Road and Carney Street you start to get an idea of journey ahead. The opposite corner sports a wide scene of what once might have been the town centre with several stores, a couple of vintage motor vehicles and two genteel ladies chatting outside the General Store: the latter advertising boots, drapery and produce. The wrought iron lace work on the arches outside the store will no doubt produce some nostalgia for some tourists.
There is a wonderful depiction of a day at the Nar Nar Goon Races circa 1926. The horses are kicking up lots of dust but everyone is dressed up for the occasion anyway. It looks as if the entire town, men, women and children took the day off to attend.
There's a mural of the local Baker & Pastrycook from early times, of an Antiques & Collectables store and of Grover's Railway Store, depicting something for everybody to read: The Argus, The Age, The Sun, The Leader, Australian and the Weekly Times. A horse and cart and a scattering of hens and a rooster beside advertising for Castrol petrol and Bushells Tea, complete the scene.
Next to the local fish and chip shop is a mural of an olde fashioned milk bar with its glass milk bottles and an array of sweets that obviously are tempting a young lad dressed in his long sleeved shirt and braces. Note on the wall the sign showing that sugar was available for one shilling and sixpence halfpenny for 2 lbs (somewhere around 4 kg for 15cents).
There's the village blacksmith watching another local canter down the street and several people strolling along in their "Sunday Best." On another street corner stands the "local" hotel with the family cat wandering around and an old timer crossing the street. Of interest, the current hotel advertises itself as "The Home of the Parmagoona." As they seem to share a similar wacky sense of humour, maybe they're related to the local butcher?
On wandering into another main thoroughfare, I came across The Federal Store & Bakery with several old-timers chatting over the fence and the local hardware store with its bags of seed, wheel barrows, ladders and chatting locals. However, no place is complete without its local coffee haunt and this one depicts a scene so very typical of olden days, where the whole family and the workers sat out the front of the store and read the paper and chatted away.
Still in Main Street, there's the ever present garage with two great looking vintage cars, available for hire according to the sign. Atlantic Motor Oil, Shell Motor Oil and Union Super Spirit seem to dominate the advertising.
On leaving, I found two very well painted bush scenes. One shows a small home with its picket gate in amongst the tall trees, while across the bush track a kangaroo hides in the bushes and a kookaburra sits on top of a burnt out tree stump. The other scene is of the bush being cleared with woodchoppers sawing a majestic tree trunk with two old timers in a truck nearby and a horse team pulling the hewn timber a little further back along the dirt road. In the background there are cleared patches of land, a small home and several cultivated fields. A sign of early industry in our vast land I guess.
It probably seems like I spent ages in the township and I would have liked nothing better at the time. However I was en route to another fabulous little gem in country Victoria, but more on that one later. I found this interesting rural town to be just the place for a stop off, a coffee and some great photos. It may be small, but it's very interesting. Put it on your agenda for your next day trip into beautiful Gippsland.
I would like to mention the Light Horse & Field Artillery Museum in Nar Nar Goon, it is open 7 days a week from 9a.m till 5p.m and they have lot's of memorobilia from World War 1 and World War 2, including horse-drawn transport vehicles. Remembering all animals in War, situated at 200 Bessie Creek Road, Nar Nar Goon.
By janef - reader Saturday, 11th of August @ 11:53 pm
Thanks for your addtional information. I'll visit the museum the next time I'm in that area.
By Carole Kelly - senior reviewer Monday, 13th of August @ 01:11 am
I cannot believe I visit friends in Nar Nar
Goon and have never seen these, I'll be taking time to venture further on to the shops and take a look in future!!
By jan.d - reader Monday, 29th of October @ 11:42 pm