We’ve written a few posts about our new house, but none of them have said anything about what part of the city we live in, so now seems like a good time to introduce you to our suburb.
First, in a mini version of How to Speak Australian, suburb is an actual Australia Post designation of where people live in their city. In Edmonton, we lived in Terwillegar; that was a neighbourhood and our mailing address was still Edmonton and designated by a very precise postal code. In Wagga, we live in Bourkelands; this is a suburb ‘in’ Wagga, as opposed to a suburb ‘of’ Wagga, which is what a place like Sherwood Park or St Albert would be in relation to Edmonton. So our mailing address is Bourkelands, but the postal code is less precise – the 2650 one covers hundreds of square kilometres, whereas our T6R 3H8 code in Edmonton covered the south side of Terwillegar Blvd in the 2-block stretch between Town Centre Boulevard and Thibault Way.
And then, to make it more complicated, we actually live in Hilltops. Hilltops is a neighbourhood (or according to the real estate sign an ‘estate’) in Bourkelands. Which is in Wagga Wagga. But not a suburb… Confusing. There seems, often, to be multiple uses of names. Just over the hill from us (or down, because we are at the top) is Glenoak. But they were just told by the government that they can’t call it Glenoak, because there is a Glenoak somewhere else in New South Wales. Instead, they will be calling it Glenoak Estate, a neighbourhood in the already existing suburb of Springvale. Which to us seems like part of Tatton…which is part of Wagga…all in the 2650 postal code…as are many little towns around here… ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…good thing the posties get to ride cool little motorcycles, otherwise who would want to do such a confusing job?
Now, to make it more confusing, there is another part of the state (NSW) called Hilltops. It is the wine and stonefruit growing region about 100 km north of us, situated around the lovely little town of Young (the cherry capital of NSW, which we’ve written about before). Unfortunately, our little Hilltops isn’t a wine region, but we do hope that our neighbourhood is good for growing some citrus and veggies, and maybe some day we will branch out to cherries and apricots. But for now, as we drink those wonderful Grove Estates nebbiolos and Ballinaclash viogniers, and the stunning Clonakilla Hilltops shiraz (Clonakilla, one of the best wineries in the country, is in Canberra, not too far from Young and sources some grapes from Grove) we can pretend that the geographic designation on the bottle is our backyard.
So what are our Hilltops like? First off, it is in the far south of Wagga, pretty much as far south as you can go before people start calling it something else (not sure what that would be though). Central Wagga is about 8 km north of here and CSU (where we work) is another 8 km from there. On a normal day, the commute, by car, is 20 minutes – 10 into town, 10 back out; cycling, it takes Dan 36 minutes to ride to work – 18 to central, 18 more to the office. People here think we are crazy…many seem to have the European mentality that this is a long way (even though on a national scale, Australians think nothing of distance). But for us, compared to Edmonton where we lived the same distance from work but it took at least 45 minutes one way, sometimes over an hour depending on traffic, this is nothing. And hey, on an average day we might see a kangaroo or two (either near our house or on campus…central Wagga is a bit less marsupial); an array of wading birds like egrets, herons and spoonbills; a couple dozen ducks; some kites and kestrels; and probably at least one kookaburra. And this is not to mention the ubiquitous parrots, cockatoos and galahs, and paddocks full of sheep and horses and, recently, some really cute calves. It is a pretty enjoyable commute. (Dan edit: even moreso on a bicycle, where you not only see these things but hear them, despite the killer magpies).
As described in the name of the neighbourhood, we are in the hilly section of the south end of Wagga. This, for one thing, provides us with some pretty spectacular views. We can see for miles to the north, out over the city and to the uni. And these hills also provide us entertainment: there’s roos in them there hills! Hundreds of them it seems. Many days, they come down to graze in the park across the street from us; days they don’t come here, we can easily find them on the hillsides around our house, either just by looking from our back yard or wandering 5 minutes up into the bush. And that bush also has given us a new hobby – one day when out on a roo walk, we realized that this was an ideal spot for biking. But our bikes weren’t up to the rough trails, so we toddled on down to Kidsons and bought some mountain bikes. Fat tyres and front suspension are great for playing in the hills here and in other spots around Wagga (Pomi, the local mountain bike park, got the best of us last week…but maybe we shouldn’t have attempted it on our second day of riding!).
So that’s an intro to Hilltops. It’s a great place…if it weren’t for the internet issues (we’ll get to that in an upcoming post).