Growing Up in the Blue Mountains - A Winmalee Perspective
Growing up in the Blue Mountains is such a unique, weird, and at times isolating experience. I moved here about 8 years ago from Canberra and the lifestyle in the Mountains was definitely quieter compared. The little memories I have of the place I grew up in Canberra consisted of burn-outs in the oval across the road, I think there was once a burnt car there too, and the playground was only accessible in the last year I was there as it was too dangerous. I only lived there till I was about 8 too and I find out a lot more happened in that neighbourhood when I got older than the 8 year-old me could have picked up. Yet here there is the occasional teenage party raid, a few road accidents and maybe now and then something a bit scandalous. A thought occurred to me just recently if who I am as a person would be radically different if I’d stayed in Canberra. I think the answer is unquestionably yes.
Winmalee, being the only town in the Mountains without a train station, is definitely sometimes an isolating place to live in. The buses aren’t regular and they don’t link up with the trains very well, we’re limited to a massive Coles (yay groceries!), Doughnut King, The Reject Shop, Michelle’s Patisserie and my favourite, Target… Country. A very, very, limiting town for the youth that live here. The closet big shopping centre is half an hour away, Westfield Penrith but even then there’s only so many times I can go and see a movie with my friends in the holidays. Scrap that. There are only so many movies available for one to see. Living in such a limiting, small, isolated town also means it’s incredibly hard to get work. There’s a lot of youth fighting for the small amount of jobs available. It is indeed a battle.
Yet in saying this I can’t deny the beautiful perks of Winmalee. For instance it’s schooling. Both Winmalee Public School and Winmalee High School have offered me so many opportunities that I know I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I performed at the Opera House twice in primary school, not every kid can say that. In high school my talents have been nurtured so much. I’ve been given opportunities to be on the debating team, and so many public speaking opportunities that have given me so much confidence. Winmalee has given me opportunities to do Mock Model United Nations, and countless leadership camps. Programs and groups such as the Year 11 Leadership Group and the Student Representative Council have also given me opportunities to enrich my leadership skills. There’s so many more too, and I’m sure more to come. All these opportunities have been shaping who I am and what purpose I wish to have in the world.
With a year left in school, I’m really starting to think about the person I want to be, and what I want to do. I joined the youth council to make a difference, because I’m so passionate for fighting for the right thing even if it’s not the easiest choice. Winmalee gave me that. The Blue Mountains gave me that. I guess that’s the lovely thing about growing up here. It may at times be limited but at the same time it so genuinely rewarding. I want to extend the opportunities here while I’m on council. Give kids in the mountains opportunities’ that surprise them, and that they never knew they would enjoy. Maybe even make a difference.