Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today’s is written by ACM journalist Kayla Osborne.
Camden is a small town located smack bang in the middle of NSW’s fastest growing region.
It’s a town just an hour from Sydney steeped in rich colonial and Indigenous history surrounded by bustling suburbia.
A town consistently stuck in the push and pull between preservation and progress.
Many of those living or working in Camden find themselves in historic buildings or cottages built long ago.
It’s Jacaranda-lined main street may not envy that of Grafton in NSW’s northern river region, but it is beautiful all the same.
Camden is the kind of town where locals still say hello as they pass each other on the street, the business owners always know the best places to go and the pubs are the place to be on a Saturday night.
There’s Camden’s proverbial jewel in the crown, St John’s Church – whose spire can be seen throughout the town, there’s an art gallery in the (haunted) historic Macaria building, a museum and plenty more.
The town’s annual ag show’s tagline is ‘still a country show’…
But the challenge Camden faces is somewhat unique.
Given the town’s location in south west Sydney it is surrounded by large-scale shopping centres, huge restaurant precincts and tourism hubs like Bowral, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains are only a short drive away.
So the town’s small businesses face the struggle of stiff competition nearby.
At shopping centers there is no need to walk all the way down the street to visit the butcher after grabbing a coffee – everything is in the one place.
And it’s easy to choose to dine at a large-scale chain restaurant, the recipes are stock standard so you know what you are getting every time.
But there’s beauty in enjoying a small town.
You get to know the business owners and their staff by name, when you head out for a morning coffee they know your order before you even say it, the pub food is iconic and the atmosphere is second to none.
So next time you find yourself in south west Sydney, and you need a break from the hustle and bustle, pop Camden on your must-see list and enjoy this small country town and its small town values, hidden away in the midst of suburban sprawl .