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Grateful That Some Things Don't Change

It's funny the things that are in the back of your mind that you don't even realise are there. We recently had to go back to Orange in the NSW Central West, where I haven't lived since I was 11. The kid had never been, and it's the town that holds so much of our family history.


As we drove into town, I wondered if I would need the GPS to find my way around, but as I turned into the main street, I spotted the place that anyone who grew up in Orange knows well, Cook Park.

At this time of year, it's one of the most gorgeous places on earth, with the leaves on the huge trees changing colour with the season. The park is 4.5 hectares of parkland in the heart of the city, located at the far end of the main street. It was laid out in a traditional Victorian design with straight paths and rows of trees. The moment we walked in together, I could actually picture my mum and I standing at the duck pond, my grandfather sitting with me near the fountain.

My fondest memories are from the Park Guildry. It was a little craft store inside the park. It was a small cottage that was always filled with handcrafted goods from the locals and homemade treats wrapped in cellophane. We used to go in there a lot as my grandfather created beautiful tapestries and pins that would sit in the store for sale.

Pops would buy me a gingerbread man every time we went to visit. I expected things would have changed in the almost three decades since I had been there last, but it had not. It even smelt the same. Warm and familiar, like a giant hug from an old friend.

We spent the next few hours doing all the usual things. Driving around to all the houses where we used to live, the schools that I went to. One of the places we lived in for a little while was Lucknow, which is just slightly outside the city limits.

Although, given the growth that has happened since I lived there not as far out of the city limits as it once was. For anyone who has ever lived in the area Lucknow Skin Shop is iconic and a place to go for Akubra hats, boots, clothing and Ugg boots. I had forgotten how cold my hometown is, so we took the opportunity to not only relive a childhood memory but purchase some stylish footwear that would also thaw out both our feet.

I know a visit to the local psychiatric hospital wouldn't be on everyone's must-do list, but Bloomfield is where my grandmother, my mum, and all of her friends worked, and I have lovely memories of spending time serving chocolate frogs to the patients when we would have movie days in the rec hall. There is a beautiful new building at the front, and the old wards have been repurposed, but the red brick buildings and the grounds, which are now covered with roaming wild kangaroos, were all such a big part of all my childhood stories.

Once you drive out of the hospital, it's a straight drive down a single road to my grandparent's old house. They built it from scratch the year they got married. The kid and I pulled up out the front, and it started to rain; it's Orange, after all. The house is currently for sale, and as luck would have it, the owner was home and more than happy to have us come inside.

After the trip, I was left with a feeling of gratitude. There is so much to love in all those places that will stay in my heart for the rest of my life.


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