You know you’re in the country when curried egg and prawns drowning in mayo are the sandwich selections at the one bakery in town.
Most people are clued in enough to go for the egg, neatly observing that country towns are – by definition - nowhere near the coast.
Not so the best man of the wedding I attended this weekend past, whose unwise selection early on Saturday morn nearly saw the understudy called in for his role in the proceedings.
Other giveaways you’re not in the big smoke anymore are the inordinate number of Holden’s hooning down the main street, always in either sparkly turquoise or bright bottle green.
The number of roadkill featured on our national emblem is also a fairly sure bet.
Everything shuts at 12.30 on Saturday, which means that the brother who forgets his belt, shoes and hat has to stick his belly out, wear his scuffed chucks and lots of suncream and avoid our mother who will loudly pronounce the shame he brings to the family name.
(Not half as bad as the wedding where he turned up at the post-wedding brunch still in his suit, a rip in the knee, because he had spent the night in a local orchard picking…ah…cherries shall we say).
Yes, missing shoes got nowhere near the response from mum as that did.
Further evidence you’re in the land of the windmills and pig troughs is the DJ playing Cold Chisel and Men At Work like they’re recent discoveries.
Any band later than the early 80’s hasn’t yet reached Australia’s interior.
Jack Daniels and Coke in a can is also fair indicator, as is champagne served in red wine glasses – actually quite helpful for people like me, those of us encumbered with a large nose.
The stars shining on the paddocks at night, winking to you as you observe the quiet sheep. Fields of canola, a rich, honest yellow disappearing into the valley below.
The air, plenty for everyone, wafting undiluted through your allergy stricken nose.
And the people.
Quiet, calm and considerate. Plenty of time to take care of you in their pragmatic, matter-of-fact-ness. Proud, independent, strong, determined.
The litmus test for being in the country?
Ask a local for help and if they reply ‘she’ll be right mate, no worries,’ you know that’s exactly where you are.