Once A Westie, Always A Westie.


Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while would know I grew up in Western Sydney in a place called Penrith.

Penrith lies on the eastern bank of the Nepean River, about 50km (31 mi) west of the Sydney CBD. It’s the last major town before you start the climb up the Blue Mountains towards Lithgow and beyond.

“PenrithNSWmap” by crico – NASA satellite maps PIA02623 (main) and PIA06665 (inset). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PenrithNSWmap.jpg#/media/File:PenrithNSWmap.jpg

There wasn’t a lot to do in Penrith, when I was growing up. Sure we had the Nepean Weir, The Mud Baths, The Drive-In and Castlereagh Drag Strip of course. Though, all of these places have either been closed to the public due to safety concerns, or they’ve been developed in some way since I left.

There were night clubs too, no town would be complete without a pub or a club of some kind.

There was “The Jungle Room” on Station Street, which had a reputation for bar fights and… er, bar fights. Or “The Roadworx Rock Cafe” in the basement of the Penrith (Panthers) Rugby League Club, which had a reputation for bar fights and live bands.

I frequented Panthers quite a bit because it was safer(!?) and I had the pleasure of sending myself deaf to many a live band at Roadworx: Ice House, INXS, The Angels, Radiators and Midnight Oil to name but a few.

If you had a car there was always an opportunity to escape the same old, same old.

It wasn’t unusual to see car loads of us Westies* heading into the city on a Friday or Saturday night to wind up the Wax Heads*, or drive down to Wollongong on a Sunday for a day on the beach.

As long as you stayed on the northern side of The Gong* you were OK. The beaches to the south and near Port Kembla weren’t very pleasant due to the pollution from the steel works.

The Great Western Highway (GWH) that wound its way out to Lithgow got a work out too. That road was treacherous back then, as was the Bells Line Of Road.

We had this loop we’d do from Penrith, to Lithgow via the GWH then down to Kurrajong via The Bells, then back into to Penrith along Castlereagh road.

Sometimes we’d do it in reverse just for fun… well for a few clicks anyway, it was hard looking over your shoulder for 187 km (117 miles). I think the record for a reverse loop was 2 or 3km (about 1-1/2 miles) before we got busted by the constabulary for being a bit silly.

“Sydney Panorama” by RaminusFalcon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sydney_Panorama.jpg#/media/File:Sydney_Panorama.jpg
Scenic view of Wollongong’s northern coastline “Bald Hill, overlooking Stanwell Park” by Adam.J.W.C. – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bald_Hill,_overlooking_Stanwell_Park.jpg#/media/File:Bald_Hill,_overlooking_Stanwell_Park.jpg
“Three Sisters Sunset” by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Three_Sisters_Sunset.jpg#/media/File:Three_Sisters_Sunset.jpg
“BlueMountains123” by blah12233 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BlueMountains123.jpg#/media/File:BlueMountains123.jpg

Sadly, like me, a lot of my school mates couldn’t wait to get out of the Penrith area.

Housing was becoming expensive, job prospects were scarce and, well, you know what they say; the grass is always greener.

There were those that stayed of course, struggled through the hard times, raised families and became successful in their chosen fields. Good on ’em I say!

Do I miss Sydney?

No, not really. Brisbane has a slower pace than Sydney, and I’ve become accustomed to it now.

I do miss the Blue Mountains and all its vistas though. Particularly watching the fog rising from the valley floor on a winters morning, or listening to the Bell Birds and Honey Eaters in the bush. (Listen)

I guess your home town stays with you and you never forget where you came from do you?

Once a Westie, always a Westie.


  • Westie: Westie is a term used in Sydney Australia to describe residents of the Greater Western Sydney region.
  • Wax Head: Surfie (Surfer).
  • The Gong: Wollongong.

7 thoughts on “Once A Westie, Always A Westie.

  1. A beautiful area, but I think Brisbane is pretty nice too.

    I grew up in a village of about 1500 people so I am a small town girl at heart. I still think it is anice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.


  2. Hey thanks, Adam: This lovely, nostalgic blog post conjured a memory I’m mighty fond of…

    Midnight Oil’s Blue Sky Mining tour was the first concert I went to. It was at a mountainside venue near Salt Lake, a week or so after school had let out for summer break (I was in middle school at the time), and my big brother took me to see it. I can’t count how many times–in his car going nowhere specific–he and I went hoarse from singing along with the Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining albums… Good stuff, man. Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s impossible to shake those early memories. I grew up in the SF Bay Area of California and although you couldn’t pay me enough to live there now, the smell of Eucalyptus trees sparks memories of my childhood like few others can.


  4. Well, I’ll disagree on one point; I left home at 20 years of age and never regretted it, nor do I miss it. New York was “home” and I could not wait to leave. When i did, I moved to Florida, where I lived many of my adult years. Now in South Carolina, Florida is the home I sometimes miss, and visit it often (by motorbike of course!).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.