How Australia’s “Gnomesville” Became an International Sensation

Not many people have heard of Wellington Mill or Dardanup, tiny towns south of Perth on the great island continent of Australia. That was, anyway, until a group of gnomes decided to take up residence here and capture the imagination of people all over the world!

It’s a mystery how Gnomesville originally began. Some rumors say that a gnome-repairwoman started the trend to decorate a section of road, while others believe that a gnome was left behind to “stand guard” at a dangerous traffic intersection. Originally seen as a form of protest art, it’s much more of a tourist attraction today. There have been over 7,000 gnomes that call Gnomesville home, and this population is growing by the day.

The gnomes’ population grew so much that they threatened to distract drivers passing by. But they were promptly moved back a bit to habitats for everyone’s safety. Just like any population center, there are good gnomes and bad gnomes here. Some play professional football, others are partying, some are flying planes, and a few are being punished in a fenced-in detention center.

It’s a surreal and blissful spectacle full of bad puns (E.T. phone gnome!), political advocacy, and pure silliness. Gnomesville has been around since the 1990s and has suffered from floods, storms, and vandalism. But the resilient gnomes have persevered, and new ones are being added to the collection by local and international visitors. Meanwhile, local news stations and bloggers from the region continue to cover the happenings at Gnomesville with a sense of wonder and childlike enthusiasm.

Gnomesville is located on the Eastern Junction Roundabout of Wellington Mill Road and Ferguson Road in Wellington Mill, Western Australia 6236. I have yet to travel to Australia and see Gnomesville for myself, but I hope to in the near future! In the meantime, you can keep up with what the red-hatted ones are doing by following their website and Facebook page.

If you’ve visited the gnomes of Gnomesville, please share your thoughts and photos with us!

The Strange Connection Between Opossums, Brazilian Folklore & Gnomes

Opossums, Brazilian folklore, and gnomes seem like three very different topics that should never be in the same sentence…let alone in a gnome newsletter. Right? Wrong! This gnome story takes us into the mysterious lands of the Amazon Rain Forest to make a scientific discovery of gnomish proportions.

A few months ago, a friend forwarded me a National Geographic article, titled “New Redheaded Opossum Named After Magical Gnome.” As a lover of both animals and gnomes, my interest was instantly piqued. A biologist in Brazil discovered a new species of opossum, but what makes this discovery so interesting is that the marsupial is named after a gnome.

The new opossum is called Monodelphis saci, and saci (pronounced sah-SEE) is a word that comes straight out of Brazilian folklore. Before this, I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about Brazilian folklore. But if gnomes were in it, I figured that I’d better broaden my horizons and learn something new!

Hunter-gatherer tribes roamed the lands of Brazil hundreds of years ago, passing folklore and tales down from one generation to the next. By way of colonization, these myths and legends changed shape and were influenced by African, Portuguese, Polish, and German settlers over time.

One such legends is about a Brazilian gnome known as a saci who wears a magical red cap. Saci Pererê is depicted as a gnome-like boy with one leg who is mischievous and even a bit of a con artist. In fact, his red hat helps him disappear and reappear whenever he likes! The legend says that your wish will be granted if you can grab the saci’s hat. But there’s a catch. The saci’s hat has a terrible smell that you may never be able to get off your hands!

All of this goes to show that gnomes don’t’ just exist in American, British, and German cultures…but diverse cultures from all around the world!

But back to that newly discovered opossum…

The Monodelphis saci species has a reddish head that resembles that hat that Saci Pererê wears in those epic Brazilian tales. Fortunately, the gnomish opossums are thriving in the wild and at no risk of extinction. Like all opossum species, they are nocturnal and able to adapt in a wide variety of conditions. Sounds a bit like our beloved gnomes, don’t you think?

I hope this story helps you remember how beautifully gnomes and animals live in harmony in our natural environment. What other animals remind you of gnomes?

The Antique Gnomes of Rock City – Chattanooga, Tennessee

*Disclaimer: This article was written by a non-gnome human, named Alyssa, who is obsessed with gnomes and travel. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Drunk Gnomes, but they probably do anyway because they’re awesome.

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On a recent drive from Illinois to Georgia, I made a pit stop in Chattanooga, Tennessee and decided to check out the famous attraction advertised on all the highway billboards: Rock City. Much to my delight, the nature paths and caves here are filled with gnomes!

I knew I was in for something special when the road leading up to Rock City was called “Ochs Highway.” No joke. Clearly, this place was meant for me.

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History of the Rock City Gnomes

In the late 1920s, Garnet and Frieda Carter began developing a walkable garden on their private estate to share their love for the region’s rock formations and native plants with the public.

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The husband-wife team opened Rock City Gardens during the Great Depression and had over 800 barns painted to advertise and attract tourists to Chattanooga. They gave the attraction its name because the rocks on top of Lookout Mountain looked like city buildings and the natural pathways like streets.

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Frieda Carter loved European folklore and fairytales, and she was an avid gnome collector. So naturally, many of her gnomes made it into the local attraction.

Gnomes Along the Enchanted Trail

Your gnome journey begins at the new Gnome Valley installation, which is a growing collection of whimsical space at the beginning of the Enchanted Trail.

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As you walk along the beautiful and easily accessible trail, you’ll notice even more gnomes peeking behind rocks to greet you.

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Keep an eye out for little red hats as you navigate the trail to Lover’s Leap, the 180-foot suspension bridge, Mother Goose Village, and the summit where you can see seven states on a clear day.

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Another awesome part about Rock City is that the whole place is dog friendly!

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The Gnomes of Fairyland Caverns

But by far, the best place to see gnomes is inside Fairyland Caverns, as this is home to Frieda’s collection of antique, imported German gnomes.

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Inside this cave, gnomes are situated into scenes that are illuminated by black lights.

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You instantly feel a sense of magic as you pass by the Castle of the Gnomes, Carnival of the Gnomes, the Moonshine-Brewing Gnomes, and many other displays.

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Admittedly, some of the scenes were a bit on the creepy side. But isn’t that what fairy tales are really all about anyway?

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Antique Gnome Restoration

Since the Rock City gnomes date back to the 1920s and 1930s, many of them were in desperate need of repair. Rock City’s resident art specialist, Matt Dutton, created a “Gnome Infirmary” to restore the residents to their original splendor.

Matt consults old photos to keep the gnomes’ coloring consistent, painting and repairing them as needed. He uses urethane resin and a hardener to fills his handmade molds to restore each little one’s unique personality.

The Gnome Mascot & Gift Shops

A red-hatted, white-bearded gnome named Rocky is the mascot for Rock City, and you might meet him walking around in costume! Yet no roadside attraction would be complete without a gift shop, and the one at Rock City is stocked with lots of gnomes you can take home as souvenirs.

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My souvenir of choice? A purple t-shirt that reads, “I’m a rock climbing, trail trekkin’, gnome lovin’ nature kinda girl.” I couldn’t have come up with a more perfect motto for myself!

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*A version of this story is scheduled to be published in the next issue of the International Gnome Club newsletter! 

Who’s Behind All These Gnome Homes in Parks?

As a writer and hardcore gnome enthusiast, I keep up with gnome news on a daily basis. (Just create a Google alert for “gnomes”!)

One trend that I keep seeing is “gnome homes” popping up all over the country in public parks. As we all know, gnomes and nature go hand-in-hand, so it makes perfect sense that they’d be setting up habitats in our most beautiful and scenic parks. With the assistance of creative and devoted humans, gnomes are moving into parks and sparking the imaginations of kids and adults of all ages.

Tomahawk Creek Trail – Overland Park. Kansas

Gnome homes started appearing along this trail in 2013, and their creator was recently identified as a single mother named Robyn Frampton. An Overland Park filmmaker created a documentary about her project called “The Gnomist.” It’s a story of paying it forward (one gnome home at a time) getting through a painful divorce, and connecting with nature and other people.

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Little Buffalo State Park – Newport, Pennsylvania

Sadly, this is a story of gnome homes that haven’t been well-received. A local retired couple built 39 gnome homes to encourage kids and adults to interact with the park. For fear of harming the natural environment, park management has evicted the gnomes. However, the couple insists the trail has no damage, and the park has seen tremendous increases in visitors since the gnomes appeared. You can sign a petition to keep the gnomes keep their homes and the community enjoying the magic they bring.

Glen Park – San Francisco, California

Gnomes have also taken up residence in this park along the Creeks to Peaks Trail with a sign reading “Leave for all to enjoy.” Visitors are encouraged to check out the gnome home while walking through the park and leave their own mementos behind in the community’s knotty tree stump.

Lamignomes…The Next Big Gnome Movement?

My new website is definitely still a work in progress, but I’ll give you a sneak peek into my next gnome venture: Lamignomes (i.e. laminated gnomes). Armed with custom gnome printouts, popsicle sticks, a sharpie marker, and a laminating machine, I have been creating gnomes with “talk bubbles” who have lots to say about the places I travel to. Stay tuned for an update on the Lamignomes movement in a future post!

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Have you spotted a gnome habitat growing in a park near you? Share your story (and photos!) with us, and maybe we can visit them someday too!

‘Tis the Season: Gnome Holiday Gift Giving Guide!

It’s that time of year again…gift-giving season! Chances are that not everyone on your list is as enthused about gnomes as you are. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t share your passion for collecting around the holidays.

Gnome-inspired gifts can come from your favorite local garden stores, online retailers, and even homemade creations that you craft by hand. So if you need a little inspiration for the loved ones in your life, check out my Gnome Holiday Giving Guide. Have fun browsing and shopping!

For Her: “Splurge” gnome purse or “budget” gnome purse

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For Him: “Hangin’ with my gnomies” men’s pajama set

For Babies: Gnome onesie with red hat

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For Kids: Paintable garden gnome set

For Teens: Brightly-colored gnome socks

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For Grandparents: “I’ll be gnome for Christmas” throw pillow

For Neighbors: “Gnome crossing” sign

For Gardener Friends: Chia pet gnome

For Book Club Friends: Wil Huygen’s Gnomes, Deluxe Collector’s Edition

For Travelers: Gnome postcards with gnome postage stamps and gnome luggage tags

For Service Men & Women: Original combat garden gnomes

For Dog & Cat Lovers: Gnome pet ID tags and gnome hat/beard costumes

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For Gnome Haters (we all know them): “Gnome-be-gone” garden art

 

A version of this article was published in the most recent edition of the International Gnome Club Newsletter. Gimme a shout if you want more info on joining our awesome club or writing some gnome-worthy news of your own! 

For more online gnome shopping resources, check out Amazon, Café Press, Zazzle, Gnome Frenzy, and Find Gift.