You Are Here: West Pennant Hills

The comfort of sameness

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Words || Katelyn Free

Along the trails of cars and trucks smothering Pennant Hills Road, as you crawl up from Hornsby towards the M2, there’s Thompson’s Corner.

A public school, a Coles, a smattering of take away shops, a dodgy Thai massage place and a rarely visited fishing store. And the crowning glory, a pollution-grimed 7 Eleven. By most measures, unremarkable and a tad gross. Even more so if you go into the alley behind the 7 Eleven where you’re guaranteed to find at least one needle and used condom.

But every time I drive up Pennant Hills Road, and I see Thompson’s Corner, I feel a pang of familiarity and comfort so strong it jars me.

I’ve lived in West Pennant Hills my whole life (bar my first 3 months fresh out of the womb). And despite the two decades which have passed by, West Pennant Hills feels, almost entirely, the same.

Just over Castle Hill Road, the dingy fluorescents of the 7 Eleven give way to a swarm of upper middle dwellings. It starts with the standard Toyota Kluga parked in the driveway and moves on through to green-P-plated-BMWs. The privilege is glaring, and the diversity extends to only just cover the bare minimum ‘multicultural Australia’ standard. Right in the heart of the Bible belt, there’s at least one church per main street.

It’s an exact replica of early 2000s Australia, where John Howard was the bee’s knees and toxic privilege systems was a communist concept. Change and growth has been incremental, and still isn’t entirely visible. It’s cloaked in a frustrating stubborn suburban taint. That despite its apathy, brings comforting familiarity.

The reliability of the commuter buses in the mornings. The continuous hills that make learning to drive manual impossible and decimate the will of even the strongest runner. Skidding down into valleys and dips, the suburb’s geography, while not exhilarating in an immediately obvious sense, gives you the feeling that you’re dipping down into the heart of people’s lives.

Of families growing and grown. The houses that have freshly sprung up, or complex reno jobs from years ago.

They all twist and turn with the rises and tumbles.  

There’s nothing truly remarkable about my suburb. Nothing overly interesting. It’s not progressive. It’s not aesthetically astounding. There’s no cultural boundaries being broken nor stereotypes being challenged. It’s angering for many people who grow up here and get the itch to move on. Move outwards. Move to a place where change and growth are humming and breathing with the landscape.

But every time I’m driving home and pass that 7 Eleven, there’s the undeniable tug in me.

It’s the simple truth. I grew up here. And as much as I think West Pennant Hills has a lot of growing to do, I love it. And the shitty 7 Eleven.