Regional towns are in our blood here at CountryTown! From Bendigo to Coles Bay, Palmerston to Ballarat. We love the pubs, the people and the places that make Australia tick. But most of all, we love the amazing country musicians our regional centers produce, like Jemma Beech.
Born in Yanderra, NSW, Jemma started her country music career at age 16. The CMAA graduate released her debut album, That’s Just Me in 2018, which debuted at no. 1 on the iTunes Top Country Music Albums chart and no. 19 on the ARIA Top 20 Australian Country Albums chart. She recently released her new single, Gravy Train, which Jemma wrote while living in Western Australia’s Pilbara region and driving haul tracks in the mines; something she’d dreamt of doing for years.
To get to know Jemma a little better, we’ve asked what she loves about her hometown, Yanderra.
1. Small but I wouldn’t trade it for anything
Yanderra, NSW is a small town of roughly 600 people, mostly acreage properties with some smaller blocks in a few of the streets. There is a public school, which I didn’t attend because it was very small numbers. I thought a bigger school would have more opportunities so I attended Bargo Public, which was only the next town and it was fun taking the bus. The local shops were closed growing up but in recent years have been occupied by a food takeaway shop, op shop and hairdresser salon.
2. Childhood fun
After we moved onto a wonderful sized property of 4 acres, I had big dreams of owning a horse. I was 11 and the front paddock was soon occupied by my Australian Saddle Pony named Thunder and boy, did he live up to his name! During the school holidays, I would catch up with other horse rider friends and we’d go for trail rides around Yanderra. At Halloween, my horse friends and I would dress up the horses and ourselves and go around trick-or-treating, which was super fun for us kids and the town folk were happy to support us horse kids too. After a few years, it was time to sell Thunder as high school got in the way for me and was too much responsibility.
3. Motorbike track
The back half of our property was slowly turned into a motorbike track – mostly for my two younger brothers – I really enjoyed riding the PeeWee 80 around the track and over the jumps and side berms they made. I was never going to be a motorcross rider, but I kinda felt like one as a kid which is such a fun memory. The track soon turned into a Learner Drivers pad for when I got my license at age 16. I had a 97’ model Toyota Corolla and was a manual. It was even more fun as I quickly learnt the art of burn outs … hehe … dad was okay with this at first but then he wanted to start fixing up the track.
4. Our house
Our house was built from mud brick and the previous owners had built the chicken coop out of mud brick too. We loved our house for its rareness – how many people lived in a mud brick home? I sure didn’t know anyone else. All the doors and windows were old-fashioned too, which had such a country charm to it and, of course, the stained-glass windows. We had lots of chickens and ducks for our eggs, which was a chore of mine to collect the eggs and feed the animals. We also had English Staffy dogs and they were our best mates. They would sit up near where my dad would park his work concrete truck waiting for him to come home.
5. Giving back
Our property in Yanderra became a music festival ground for a charity event my mother would host. As she is a breast cancer survivor, it was her way of giving back and supporting other women going through the same thing. We had a truck bed for a stage. I got to sing, of course, and host. We had many local artists come to perform, local jewellery stalls, face painters and a jumping castle. My high school friend Emma even shaved her head for the great cause in support of her family member. Our home in Yanderra was and still is a place welcomed by all. It is the place that shaped me into who I am today and all the values in which I strive.
Follow Jemma on her Facebook page here.
For more of our My CountryTown series, check out here.