Let’s Be Pen Pals

A hearty good afternoon to you all! 

I hope you have had an enjoyable, productive week. I’ve been blessed to have my amazing mother visit this week. She is a power horse, with way more energy at almost 80 than I have. In so many ways I wish was more like her. Everything she does is really efficient and productive. She doesn’t tolerate tardiness or being slack in any measure, which makes her a champion in organisation and productivity. Pretty much the exact opposite of me. Heaven help all the creative dreamers out there who lack practical skills and focus. Life for us is certainly more of a jumbled mess of colourful chaos.

The good thing about people like me, is while we may be the last to actually iron the clothes we wash, we are the first to jump into a car with a cake or two and hunt down really cool places to photograph them. Just because it’s fun and adds to the joy of life. Oh, and it fills up that huge hole in our hearts that screams out for creativity and adventure. Where would the world be without dreamers putting ideas into action and bringing beauty into the lives of amazing  people like my Mum, who would never contemplate such impractical extravagance.

As I was driving out West, my eyes were peeled for interesting places to stop and take photos. When I drove into Gunnedah, I was heading into town and drove past a small brick building, more like a room, that was the sweetest pink colour. I excitedly exclaimed aloud to myself  “It’s PINK!!” as I made a U turn and went back to investigate. I get pretty excited about pink. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what this random room on the main street would have been, and why it was left to ruin. I am convinced I could have turned it into the cutest little cupcake shop. 

I had missed the florist by literally five minutes. Did you know that shops still close at Midday on Saturdays in the country? Neither did I. So I had to rely on the stash of dried flowers I brought with me to put on the cake. 

One of my favourite stops was in a cute cafe in Coonabarabran. I felt so liberated driving around by myself, exploring new places. I could hardly keep the smile off my face. Everything interested me. I noticed all the details. I took time, time to slow down and linger, to watch and observe, to stop and look at things that I found beautiful. I must’ve looked a sight, this grinning tourist with her crochet scarf and a camera around her neck taking photos of cafe walls! 

In Gilgandra I found my perfect cupcake shop. It literally took my breath away. (Ha. Have you realised yet that I tend to get easily excited?!) There are so many beautiful old buildings out West, and sadly most of them are abandoned and left to ruin. As soon as I saw this perfect piece of real estate my imagination went into overdrive and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The sweetest little darling shop, desperately needing a Mama Bear makeover and a heart full of cupcake love poured out all over it. 

Isn’t she a darling !? Can’t you just imagine this glorious tiny space given a fresh coat of paint and a cute sign overhead, filled with vintage treasures and cupcakes! Ahhh..this is the cupcake shop of my dreams. All I need is to pick it up and bring it over here to the coast. Somehow I don’t think the population of Gilgandra could support my little venture. Oh well. Sigh. 

Gilgandra also holds a special place for me, as my Mum lived there when she was a wee dot. Her family lived above a shop that they ran and I managed to find it. Sadly, like so many others, it was empty.

Can you imagine living here? My mum remembers looking out the windows above the shop and playing with her two older sisters. She also has fun memories of eating lollies and playing on the stairs. What a different world, and yet such a free childhood enjoying simple pleasures.

I finally found some fresh flowers in the Gilgandra supermarket. There wasn’t much to choose from, but I think these yellow lilies (?) looked pretty good on the cake. 

Further out in Warren, I found the house my darling grandfather Roy was born in and lived in with his eleven brothers and sisters. I sat in my car for a long time looking at the house. People were living in it so I didn’t want to get out and look like a stalker.

After about half an hour, I heard a sharp knock on the passenger window of the van. A stranger opened the door and gruffly asked if she could help me. I must have been parked in front of her house and the sight of a large mysterious van with dark tinted windows must have raised alarm. I apologetically explained that I was just looking at the house where my grandfather was born in 1916 and she quickly back peddled. I guess there isn’t much excitement in the streets of Warren these days. 

Sadly, the house where my mum was born, one street behind Roy’s, was no longer there. He built it himself and it was the first home he lived in with his teenage bride. It was a small, humble shack and three lovely girls were born there. 

I felt quite sentimental driving through these Western towns where my family originated from. I remember asking my mother where they went for holidays. She can only remember ever going away twice. Once, the kids were put in the back of a truck and driven all the way to the coast for a week’s holiday camping in a big army tent, and another time they drove to Sydney. That’s it. Every other school holiday of her childhood was spent at home in a remote rural town.

How spoilt we are these days. I confess I found it difficult to imagine what life would have been like growing up so far from more populated areas. Even today, I wonder what draws people to these areas. I found myself wondering if the local kids can’t wait to get away to a big city when they grow up and leave home? Or does the majesty of the country permeate their souls and draw them in, like an intoxication, keeping their heart firmly fixed in the country?

The more I lingered in these towns the greater my desire became to stay, get to know the people and hear their stories. I would love to nestle into one of these beautiful communities and discover what makes it’s heart beat. To capture the essence of life in rural Australia, as others have done before me.  While a drive through does give a glimpse, and ignites curiosity and passion, I can’t help but feel like these people are holding a secret that I, as an outsider, don’t know about. They hold a treasure close to their hearts and I can’t even put my finger on what it is. Perhaps I will discover it the further West I travel.

Until next week,

Anna xx


  • Oh please please please bring that cutest little shop to the coast and hang your shingle and sell beautiful cupcakes….. ????????????

  • Jenny Maloney

    I just want to jump in my car and go! What an adventure. Love these photos so much ????

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thanks Jen, you really should do that! Its just soooo beautiful. xx

  • ❤️

  • I could imagine you just plucking that cute little shop right off the footpath & bringing it home in a trailer!
    Those flower toppings look decidedly jaunty.
    Love the photo in front of the glass arched door!

  • I’m hooked! Can’t wait for next week!

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thanks Haley! I’m so happy you are liking my posts. xx

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