Jardin Bay is a small town on the south west coast of Australia. Sadly, it’s fictional. It’s not based on any particular real town, but on the vibe of the region: living the good life and knowing you’re lucky.
I’ve never lived in a small town — though some would argue that Canberra, Australia’s national capital, is a small town — but I grew up in a community that was a small town in all but name.
My neighbourhood was one of those anomalies of city life. It was semi-rural but right next door to suburbs and industry — where the adults got to work. For the kids, there was lots of land to roam in, a local primary school and a beach not far away. People had dogs and cats, but also horses, goats, chickens (we did!), sheep (Nana, trying to do away with mowing the yard — don’t ask! it didn’t work), even an emu, kangaroo and galahs.
Some of the family had been there a couple of generations — like mine. People knew each other. The whole idea of a “safe house” for kids — do you remember that initiative? If a kid was worried about stranger-danger, a sign told us the safe house to run to. Well, the whole suburb was safe. You knew everyone and their dog, and they knew you.
The end of year parents’ night with kids singing and acting and carrying on was an event for the whole community.
Even now, years later, with the suburb completely changed and people scattered, when you run into one another there’s an immediate kinship. We remember a place where everyone had the freedom to live their dreams.
And that’s the origin of Jardin Bay for me.