Satirical Geraldton review points to past as city looks to future

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
The Horizon sculpture on the Beresford foreshore in Geraldton.
Camera IconThe Horizon sculpture on the Beresford foreshore in Geraldton. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian/Elise Van Aken

If I was to rate Geraldton as a holiday destination out of five stars, I’m sorry to say it wouldn’t get full marks.

It’s not my beloved Orlando, Florida, where theme parks, a NASA space centre and outlet shopping galore kept me entertained for the better part of a year.

Nor is it my other former home, Kununurra, where one can spend days on end exploring Miriwoong country’s rugged mountain ranges and hidden waterfalls.

But Geraldton and the Mid West no doubt have a lot to offer holidaygoers, with the council, Tourism Geraldton Mid West and countless small businesses continuing to bring new and exciting options out for Aussies holidaying at home.

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Admittedly, the only things I was looking forward to about moving here from my beloved outback town in the Kimberley were that I would be just a few hours away from my family and close to a Hungry Jack’s.

But the picturesque Yamatji coast, modern and colonial architecture, frequent live music events and a thriving cafe and restaurant scene have won my heart, and the real estate market my wallet.

The lifestyle I now enjoy is reminiscent of the one I had growing up in a seaside suburb of northern Perth, with the comforting feel of a small town I crave after leaving my heart in the Kimberley.

The self-proclaimed authority of Australia’s S...test Towns’ most recent comedic attempt was aimed at Geraldton.

At first I dismissed the post as not worth gratifying with a response, until I saw the page had 272,090 followers, including “Geronaltities” Mayor Shane Van Styn and Labor MP Darren West.

It had also garnered hundreds of shares and thousands of comments and reactions — enough to rival the usual traffic of the two leading official news sources for the region combined, and promoted a re-share of satirical website Bell Tower Times last review of the Mid West hub.

While the drug, seaweed and erosion jabs at the “redneck” town were likely not to have gone down well with locals, they may have hit a bit close to home.

But there were also some more lighthearted quips that everyone could have a self-reflective chuckle at, regarding “numerous Kmart mums” despite the absence of a Kmart; the number of people named Gerald; and the old “relentless howling wind” chestnut.

I can attest to their point about everyone being named Gerald in some form.The mayor has confessed it’s his middle name and I know one new resident who bears the name, too.

But I promise you if I stood on any street corner and asked every passerby if they could sell me meth, they would be more likely to share a blob of hand sanitiser and be down for a yarn about how much they loved their dog.

While my new suburb has been threatened more than once since I moved here by bushfires, a spate of burglaries and the wind throwing my drying washing around the back garden, I’m excited to stay and see how Geraldton makes the most of this year in a professional and personal capacity.

Journalist Elise is looking forward to the Shore Leave Festival, but my dog-mum of three side is looking forward to spoiling them at Kmart.

After being tagged by multiple family members and friends in the satire poking fun at the city’s former shortcomings, I’m happy to laugh, shake it off, and look to the bright future of Geraldton and the Mid West.

Elise Van Aken is deputy editor and senior reporter at the Geraldton Guardian.

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