Gnomesville. Yes, it exists
Gnomesville, a tiny settlement located in the Ferguson Valley in South West WA, is facing immense pressure to modernise on the back of an unexpected population boom.
One of the fastest growing villages in the South West, Gnomesville is currently home to an estimated 5000 gnomes from across the globe. Spread out along the banks of the Gnome River, the village also contains turtles, frogs, mushrooms, a snowman, three terracotta zombies and a crocodile.
Gnomesville is a booming tourist attraction. Every week, it draws hundreds of visitors keen to photograph the sprawling and eclectic clay community.
Gnomesville has diverse population, from the famous (Gnomi Campbell and the entire cast of Gnome and Away) to the controversial (the Gnomesville Detention Centre is overflowing.)
Unfortunately Gnomesville has become a victim of its own popularity. Like many tourist hotspots, its struggles with inadequate infrastructure. Its aging and dilapidated houses do little to address the accommodation needs of the booming population, leading to some homeless gnomes squatting illegally on neighbouring farmland.
Furthermore, devastating scenes play out every winter when Gnome River floods, taking with it any gnome roaming too close to the edge. Attempts to teach gnomes to swim have failed utterly – the gnomes are typically made of concrete or clay and have no functional arms or legs.
Gnomesville has basic infrastructure, with the Gnome Shire Council having worked hard to establish a gnome school with school bus, a dedicated police force, a detention centre and social clubs.
There are a range of houses and styles from Romanesque architectural influences to more typical Aussie bush building styles. Rusty galvanised iron and colorbond offcuts are scattered among refurbished doll houses dotted through the village.
But many of the gnome houses are, unfortunately, ridiculously overcrowded. And with overcrowding comes the associated social issues.
Earlier this year, an outbreak of zombie gnomes threatened the largely peaceful clay community. Gnomesville police took control by launching an innovative program whereby zombies were encouraged to perform more useful activities around the community such as planting butterfly gardens.
“We try our best to cater for all gnomes,” said Gnomesville shire president Gnomald Trump*.
“Our people are well known for our skills and enthusiasm in building. All that’s really holding us back right now is a lack of funding – and the fact our fingers are largely stuck to our bodies.”
A shining multicultural example
Donnybrook real estate agent Angela Murphy, of Summit Realty, predicts the booming village could be the next property hot spot in WA.
Ms Murphy, a Gnomesville specialist, visited the village recently to have a look around. She believe Gnomesville sets a shining example of the best of Aussie multiculturalism.
“It’s an incredible place for people, and gnomes,” she said.
“Gnomesville is faced with a lot of the same challenges as other communities – global warming, a high density population, and affordability of accommodation.
“Everybody is looking for a home that is affordable, but with the rising cost of living that is becoming more and more difficult. When it comes down to it, everyone is looking for a home where they can simply say, we are family.”
Gnomesville is located in a beautiful part of the world, and it was a great joy for people to visit the village and lose themselves, Ms Murphy said.
“Gnomesville for me breaks our red-tape world,” she said. “It’s been good to see people freely express themselves here. What a joy it’s brought to the community.”
Ms Murphy said if there was one thing she took from visiting Gnomesville, it was the value of respecting differences.
“This place respects all of our cultures and religions,” she said.
Gnomesville began in the early 1990s when, following the construction of a roundabout in the popular Ferguson Valley, the first gnome to settle in the area was placed in a large redgum hollow by a local resident. A second local gave this lonely gnome a home by placing a sign saying “Dun Gnoming” above the hollow.
More gnomes settled in on the roundabout with help of locals and visitors. Local man Kevin Campbell, for whom a memorial stands in the community, cleared the current site so the gnomes could move off the roundabout and into their current territory. Gnomes have since arrived in Gnomesville from all around the world.
This year, the Dardanup Shire Council implemented a Gnomesville management plan after a series of concerns were raised by neighbours concerned about trespass – by both people and gnomes.
The management plan will see a new group formed called the Friends of Gnomesville to help manage the iconic tourist attraction. The plan will see fences installed to prevent trespass to neighbouring farms.
Any gnomes found straying will be relocated.
* This name and title may be a mis-gnomer.