It’s really tough to explain Gnomesville in Western Australia. Surely one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever been and I’m so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for adding it to the itinerary when I visited Perth last year. Down a small side road, surrounded by bushland and farms, Gnomesville is another world. Its impossible to capture the scale of it with my limited photographic skills, but trust me when I say it covers a very large area. Just when you think you’ve passed the last gnome grotto, you’ll notice a little weather-beaten sign and yet another collection of slightly worse-for-wear little statues. There are bridges and hills creating sort of gnome-y neighbourhoods, often with their own theme and signage. And often pretty creepy.
There are more bad gnome puns than you can poke a stick at – mostly hand-painted on (sometimes quite elaborate) signs. And that’s probably what surprised me the most: the pre-meditation of Gnomesville tourism. I felt very slack turning up without a bunch of gnomes (tattooed with the names of my family) – like a vegetarian at a butcher’s BBQ or an unmanicured Kardashian, I was feeling unprepared and out of place. Clearly, people carefully plan their visits to Gnomesville – gathering their gnomes, preparing their puns, slapping up their signs and then ensuring that they find just the right part of the village to house their little friends.
And, just like anywhere else in Australia, there is a real mix of characters: from South African and Kiwi gnomes, to dodgy looking gnomes in trailers and on bikes, to a big group of scantily clad girlie gnomes, to gnomes commemorating anniversaries and births and all sorts of families. And a DJ gnome, a Doctor gnome (presumably to staff the gnome hospital, where they seem to throw all the broken pieces of gnome) and some interlopers like frogs and bears that are wannabe gnomes trying to fit into the neighbourhood.There is even a tin of Spam on display in a wooden frame attached to a tree trunk. It’s that kind of place.
So if you’re travelling around WA, it’s definitely worth stopping at Gnomesville for a unique experience of life in an alternate universe – where you are giant-sized, gnomes drive cars and run hospitals, puns abound and you start debating the relative attractiveness of little plaster statues with glasses or pointy hats. But be warned – it can get a bit overwhelming and creepy and mess with your head – so whatever you do, don’t camp there overnight. Lest you venture past the point of gnome return (dammit, see what I mean?) and become part of the madness…