Must-See Sights of Western Australia
The Village of Little People
Almost a decade ago we were 'Sunday driving' through the south-west of Western Australia just east of Dardanup when some patches of colour caught our eye. Our mouths dropped as we suddenly realised we were looking at a group of gnomes, which seemed to be placed on a playing field having a game of cricket. It say we were surprised would be an understatement. We were amazed and delighted to see these colourful little people, apparently in the middle of nowhere, just sitting quietly waiting to welcome visitors it seemed.
Since then, we have been back many times. It is an obligatory trip for any visitors who come to stay and no-one fails to be enchanted and charmed by the sight.
In 2001, Gnomesville occupied a few square metres and has now expanded to cover an acre or more. As more gnomes are added to the mix, so the 'town' stretches further along the old path.
Gnomesville is one of the attractions of Ferguson Valley which is itself one of many idyllic areas in the south west of Western Australia. The magnificent King Tree is nearby. This huge jarrah is some 36 metres tall and over 500 years old.
Dardanup is the gateway to this picturesque area and a drive through the patchwork of hills and rolling countryside brings you to the location of Wellington Mills. Wellington Mills was once a busy mill town with two timber mills supporting a large population of workers.
There are picnic tables at Gnomesville and public facilities not too far away. An information board shows the location of other attractions in the area.
There is little hard evidence as to how Gnomesville began. One version is that Dardanup school children, participating in a mock council meeting, stated that they thought the intersection of Wellington Mill Road and Ferguson Road was a traffic hazard. Soon after, the council proper erected a roundabout at the spot. A gnome was placed at the site - then another and another. Soon they'd been given a sports ground with enough gnomes for a footie (Aussie for football) team which of course changed to cricket during the summer.
The roundabout itself became a hazard because of the interest the gnomes were causing and they were shifted to the side of the road. The flood of gnomes continued and there are now well over 2,000 gnomes stretching over some 250 metres along the bushland verge. The earthworks which once supported railway lines runs alongside the road and the gnomes are slowly making their way north and south of the original site.
Clever puns abound at Gnomesville – metro-gnome, there's no place like gnome, a gnomely child, home eco-gnomics, and the professor of ergo-gnomics. One little group has its own mobile gnome, traffic is regulated by an officer with his multi – gnoma who is obviously out to catch the gnomes who imbibe too much at the concerts given by the Rolling Gnomes who are accompanied by a Saxa-gnome.
It is a well-rounded community and boasts a Funeral Gnome, a Gnome Birth Centre, a Gnoman Empire and a Gnome for Wayward Youths which is situated a suitable distance from the Gnome Schooling group. Many have their 'gnome amongst the gum trees' commemorating John Williamson's popular song. There is no discrimination here. The gnomasexual co-exists happily with a gnome perched on a swing high in the branches of a eucalypt. There is even a 'gnome smoking area'. The Tomb of the Unknown Gnome sits quietly near the little brook which babbles its way through the community, rocking the wooden boat with its cargo of – didn't you guess?- gnomes.
Gnomes peep out from behind trees, peer down from between branches way up in the air and hide behind patches of ferns. A few undesirables even 'moon' at the visitors.
It is a tight-knit community with 'friend's gnome-matter what' sharing space with the 1st Gnomesville scout group. 'Gnome Man is an island' is there too. There certainly is 'gnome place like gnome' with many promising to 'gnome no more'. There are gnomes in parachutes and hot-air balloons. Rather unfortunately a 'Crow-Gnome-Eater' is stuck to a clock and has a gnome in his beak - but it's a clever pun.
Some individuals have constructed sizeable works to house their gnomes and there are all sorts of miniature buildings in amongst the trees and "gnome suburbia". The ancient Greek Parthenon is represented in grand style as the Gnomethon; the Rolling Gnomes appear in a substantial stage; and several football teams and dancing groups all have small structures to protect them from the elements as well as to highlight their appearance.
Schools, nursing homes, and clubs of all sorts are represented at the site. The Shirley Club has a host (should that be hostess?) of nubile gnomes all with a number. There are memorials to loved ones, grand-parents have placed gnomes for grandchildren across the seas and visitors from around Australia and abroad have contributed to the thriving metropolis that is Gnomesville. It is now an international community with gnomes bearing signs of their origins in Holland, Germany, Bintan Island as well as all states of Australia. London, New York, Broome, Amsterdam – all have their representative gnomes – all far from gnome! Coaches now include Gnomesville on their itineraries.
The arts are represented with Gnomeo and Juliet and 'Wherefore art thou, Gnomeo?'
The local people took on the task of installing picnic tables and a little bridge across the stream and continue to maintain the area. One of those who made a huge contribution was Kevin Campbell. His thongs (flip-flops) have been bronzed and set on a post to commemorate his life. The inscription says he was 'an inaugural friend of the gnomes and tireless worker for the community'.
Gnomesville has now been featured on several TV programmes and is a must-see on many itineraries. Everyone wants to be in on the act and one poor unfortunate has had to be content with penning on his contribution 'I was going to leave a gnome but I only had a brick'.
Although the vandals have invaded Gnomesville once or twice, the population continues to grow and spread, bringing a little piece of whimsy and pleasure to all who go searching for it and particularly to those who stumble upon it by chance.