I wonder if you’ve ever heard of a little town called Orroroo? It’s at the base of the Flinders Ranges, a tiny blip of a gorgeous town, the main street an eclectic mix of old and new and on the main drag between Perth and Sydney.There’s about 550 people who live here, so you get the idea, when I say it’s small.
I grew up in Orroroo and I love this place. The old Churches, new-ish hospital. The Police Station even has stone cells at the back of it – I doubt they’re used anymore, but as a kid, I can remember visiting with the school and being scared out of my wits when the thick, heavy steel door banged behind us kids.
A little further down the road – or rather up (north) RM Williams Way (yes, this is a road!) is a even smaller town named Carrieton. This lovely little place has about eight houses, two churches, one pub, a post office, a community run shop, pool and town hall. It also hosts the Carrieton Rodeo which is a huge event in the community calendar. Now, Carrieton only has 51 people in the town itself. This lovely little town is tiny. And my family have both towns for a very long time. My family have been in Orroroo over 100 years – the Parnells were a founding family and the Heaslips have been around Carrieton for a similar time.
Because I’ve spent so much time here as a kid, I have combined these two places to losely base the town of Barker on. If you ever visit these towns I hope they’ll feel familiar to you. Maybe the books might even want to make you visit – and don’t be put off by the size of either town. There is plenty to do.
Now, Barker is where Detective Dave Burrows lives, and if you’ve read my books, you’ll know that he’s a main character in a ninety percent of them. Do it makes sense to show you how Barker came into being.
I think it’s fair to say that Barker is becoming the Australian version of Midsomer (who has seen that great sign that says: Midsomer. Population
1012, 1000, 980, 880? It’s hilarious). Thankfully Barker isn’t quite so bad. Yeah, there’s a few murders but not too many. Mostly mysteries. And it’s said that excitement follows Dave, so it wouldn’t matter if I moved him to another town. Funnily enough, I think the same thing would happen.
The one thing about these old SA country towns, are the streets are so wide and the median strip is broad too, full of trees and RSL memorials. (Actually Orroroo has the widest streets in SA!). The atmosphere is quiet and lovely, but these places bake with the heat during summer.
Can you see those silos in the top photo? They are about one block away from my childhood house and were the inspiration behind a scene in Deception Creek. You don’t have to get far into the novel to find out there was a death involving these silos – right at the bottom of them is a railway station, from then the trains used to come in and across the road is the old Butter Factory and Bowling Club. I talk about these places in Deception Creek too.
I often imagine Dave strolling down the main street of Orroroo, in front of the public loos and town hall. If you’ve read Where the River Runs, there is a Christmas Pageant scene in there; that’s a true-blue Orroroo Christmas Pageant!
You know, I love the Orroroo and Carrieton regions so much, I couldn’t not write about them. It’s a way of keeping me connected and stop my homesickness now I don’t live there.