Peace – curses to the internal combustion engine. 

I love watching the English TV show “Escape to the Country”. Like many millions of others around the world, I imagine myself in any number of “character-filled” homes near a lovely village. 

But I am always amazed that even when they are seemingly in the middle of the countryside, you can hear the roar, sometimes distant, sometimes close by, of a busy motorway. 


Why would I want to live in the country and hear the constant noise of traffic?

Is there nowhere in England that the peace of total quiet can be heard? 

My current friend, J.B. Priestley (OK, he’s not my friend but I really like his book that I have referred to before) opines that quiet “is the most luxurious commodity on the world. I doubt if wealth can buy anything better than a little extra privacy and quietness.”

I know, I know, people in glass houses etc etc. The car has given me wonderful holidays and access to quiet, peaceful areas. And my two huge road trips in the last two weeks’ break obviously come at the expense of someone’s peace and quiet, not to mention all the pollution. 

I live near one of the noisiest roads of Sydney. I no longer hear it or the trains that run between me and the noisy road. Unless there is an especially noisy train or truck. 


I do love to escape noise. Hard to imagine that in the early 20th century, according to Priestley, they thought modern transport was too fast for humankind to deal with. Too noisy and too fast pace. They feared mental distress. And there was Priestley, never thinking we’d get to over a hundred kilometres an hour. And how prescient is Priestley with this idea:  No that we are whizzed about the world, there is no time for absorbing and adjusting. Perhaps it is for this reason that the world that the traveller knows is beginning to show less and less variety. By the time we can travel at four hundred miles an hour we shall probably move over a dead uniformity, so that the bit of reality we left at one end of a journey is twin to the bit of reality we step into at the other end. Movement but no real travel. 

Anyone stuck in airports will know this is so.

But back to cars. 

On our road trips, I hate it when Mr S stops for a tea and sandwich break by the side of the highway. I’d rather drive a little off the main road, and drink my tea without the sound of traffic. 

So my dilemma is: where to live when I love the culture, restaurants, libraries, theatre, people watching of urban life but hate the noise of traffic. 

My recent trip to the northwest of the state was heaven. Peace and quiet. But I know while I dream of living in such a peaceful place, after a few days I’d dream of leaving. 

Are you suffering nervous distress from the speed and noise of modern transport? And where do you sit on the Quiet Country/ Busy City dichotomy? 

Tell me your thoughts. And if you live on the east coast of Australia, or even better close to Sydney, where should I live?

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13 thoughts on “Peace – curses to the internal combustion engine. 

  1. It’s such an interesting point – I live in Chippendale and it’s ‘quiet’ when you think it’s housed in by those main roads. Like I can lie in bed and not hear the cars! But when the Rabbitohs won the NRL, we could hear the cheering from Redfern. But it’s quite unexpected for somewhere so ‘down town’. I also find my parents backyard is quiet – but the front is a continuation of Arthur St which is a well worn ‘rat run’ (which you may hear regularly on traffic reports, there are ALWAYS accidents on King Georges near Arthur St). I know i’m a city person. I like the busy, I like the people, and I like the people but the anonymity part of the time. Small towns, everyone knows your business.

    • Yes, I hate how in small towns everyone knows your business. We tried it for a year and as the newcomers, everyone knew us and would pass on stories. Not bad stories but it was like they knew we’d been to X on the weekend or done Y.

      I know, it’s funny how some inner city suburbs can be quieter than outer suburbs.

  2. I’m torn. I want the cafes, library, shops, village like feel – but few people, no traffic and no noise. I used to think I needed to live close to theatres etc but in reality, how often do I attend? I’d be better off just treating myself to a hotel if I needed to go to the city to watch a show.
    Perhaps I need to live in Bowral? Or somewhere similar?

  3. For all the reasons you mention, I chose to live in the suburbs. Dead quiet at night but just 20 minutes from concerts and theatre. Sometimes I would love to crash downtown after a night out, but I wouldn’t cope well with the expense and the noise. No interest in living in a rural area or small town, though. Been there, done that!

    • Sydney is one biiiiig spreading mess. So from our suburb by train to the centre is about 50 minutes. There are quieter places closer to town. And quite places in my own suburb. We tried a rural town for a year. Not us either.

  4. We spent some time in the Actual Country on the weekend (25km east of the VIC/SA border, and about 70km south of the mid point between Melbourne and Adelaide). There were sheep (around 50,000ish across the whole property). We saw the Milky Way in all its glory *and* we saw a satellite. That was pretty cool. Also learned about Mallee Fowl (they eat their young. Delicious) and Curlews (they’re bizarre and slightly creepy). It was such proper country that there was no phone reception unless you marched up and down a narrow strip of grass and internet was non-existent. That bit didn’t worry me. No coffee was a problem. And the inability to walk anywhere aside from 100km/h roads… That wasn’t fun.

    Yes. I am urban to the core.

    • See our country can be isolated and totally silent. But days from shops, theatre, good food (and coffee). Given everything’s more compact in England maybe the background traffic noise is worth being in the country but also not far from “the world”.

      In the country you need to switch to tea drinking!

      Could you not walk around the property?

    • Oh yes. Bugger. Hate them. Can’t understand how we can have so many snakes in the country, yet not see much wild life that you think thy could eat. Maybe because they eat them all.

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