There is no place like Gnome -sville, Western Australia
Over 5000 (and growing weekly) gnomes call this place home, Ferguson Valley in the south of Western Australia. Listed as one of the top 100 places visited in Australia, it has to be seen to be believed.
I spoke to the Watson family as they placed their own group of gnomes. Mum, Dad and five children are from Kalamunda near Perth. They made a trip down here to rest their gnomes. Each family member has written their name and date on the gnome and placed them under a tree as a family group. Like most visitors here, they intend to come back and visit, as well as have other family members leave a gnome relative here in the future.
Sporting groups, schools, caravan groups, and groups of friends all have left mementos here.
Traditionally, a gnome is a species of diminutive beings, usually shrivelled, bearded old men, who act as guardians of treasures. They are magical creatures, and at Gnomesville, there are so many different varieties to look at. Reading the various signs, you will see there are gnomes that have travelled to live here, from all over the world, as its visitors have. The love of these creatures is worldwide. Tour companies are even offering this place as a stop on their itineraries of the area.
The Shire of Dardanup and local volunteers maintain the area, and a car park and picnic area have been installed in recent years. In the past, even prisoners from nearby Bunbury have assisted in cleaning up the gnomes and gnome area.
How did it begin? There seems to be different stories, but the sign at Gnomesville states: “On the roadside close to the current car park there stood a large red gum tree with a hollow close to the ground. A local resident Kathleen Rees (now Kelsey), saw the opportunity for this hollow to become a home for a Gnome so she simply placed on there! .... From this small beginning, others joined in the fun.”
A cricket pitch for the Gnomes was set up in summer and it became a Gnome football field in the winter.
A wishing well was constructed and many local people have their names inscribed in the surrounding mosaics. The well initially provided a source of funds with people dropping coins in, but the lock was broken and the mesh vandalised, and now the Shire funds the maintenance. Did some of those naughty Gnomes destroy the well under the cover of darkness? We will never know.
Whether you love a good Gnome or not, there is no denying that Gnomesville is an amazing spot, with people constantly adding to it. I imagine in years to come the Watson family visiting their gnomes, and as the children get older, they giggle at their childish handwriting from years gone by, and smile at their growing gnome brigade.
For now, the Gnomes rest amongst the gum trees waiting for you to visit them.
Happy Travels (from me and the gnomes)!
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