Humans, though often stricken by boredom, are seemingly limitless in their capacity to create new synonyms for the average. Humdrum, mediocre, middling, so-so, even the infamous ‘mid’ can be employed to describe that which is merely… meh. What you may not know, however, is that there’s a group of communities that not only bear similar names, but have actively embraced them. We’re talking of the ‘League of Extraordinary Communities‘, a partnership formed of the mighty communities of Dull, Boring, and NSW’s very own Bland.
Though New South Wales might have its fair share of unusual town names (seriously, Delicate Nobby?), Bland is the only one that’s parlayed this notoriety into a global partnership. So, in a break from our usual programming, let’s take a look at what makes these places anything but average.
Bland Shire, NSW
The latest town to join the League is also the closest to home: it’s Bland, of course! The region known formally as Bland Shire is named after former resident William Bland, and is found about a five and a half hour drive from Sydney. The shire centres on the far less funnily-named mining town of West Wyalong, where gold was once found back in 1893. Over one hundred years later, back when Dull & Boring’s partnership first became news – more on that in a bit – the Mayor of Bland Shire (also an excellent title) Neil Pokoney struck a different kind of gold after campaigning for Bland to join the party. Pokoney even travelled to Dull in 2017 to celebrate the partnership, with the heads of each town invited to celebrate their union.
Though it may be the baby of the trio, we think Bland has the best sign (It depicts each community and reads “Bland… far from Dull and Boring”, which is some frankly excellent wordplay.) Highlights of Bland Shire include the Douglas DC3 Dakota airplane that stands in West Wyalong’s Lions Park right next to said sign, the Barmedman Mineral Pool that offers cooling dips on a hot day, and the impressive Cowal Lakeside, which looks over the shimmering waters of Lake Cowal.
Dull was arguably the place that started it all, after a Scottish tourist named Elizabeth Leighton took a cycling holiday in Oregon back in 2012 and pedalled through Boring, thus sparking the link. Found in Perth & Kinross near the banks of the River Tay, Dull is a tiny village with fewer than 100 residents and just one street – which means that they’re technically too small to officially be twinned with anywhere. Not that that’s ever stopped them!
It’s believed that the name derives from the Pictish word for ‘field’, which is something you’ll see quite a lot of around here. Another thing Dull isn’t short on is local attractions: the Croft Moraig Stone Circle is a short drive away, and nearby mountain Schiehallion is popular with intrepid walkers. I can also personally recommend Dewar’s whiskey distillery in nearby Aberfeldy, should you find yourself in Dull anytime soon.
Over 5500 miles from Dull, you’ll find Boring, the biggest player in the League with around 10,000 residents – thus far, it’s the only one of the three to have a Netflix series set in it (the show is quite aptly named Everything Sucks, if you want to check it out).
Like Bland, it’s named after an early resident of the area, in this case, one Mr William Boring. The community lies just outside the major US city of Portland, although the neighbourhood of Happy Valley somewhat cruelly separates it from the city. There’s even more naming shenanigans going around the region; Boring is actually just a 40-minute drive from Vancouver… but not the Canadian one (this one is a town in Washington state). Seriously, who planned this?
Boring is home to such attractions as the North American Bigfoot Centre, and it’s nicely located for an escape into the wilderness of Mt Hood National Forest. No word on whether you’ll actually spot Bigfoot, though.
All jokes aside, though oceans may separate them, these towns share a beautiful bond of friendship – and there’s a deeper level to the partnership. By making news for their ‘Trinity of Tedium’, Dull, Boring, and Bland aimed to increase tourism to each area, which has had positive results (Leighton was interviewed ten years after her discovery, and spoke of increased visitors to Dull). Maybe you’ll choose to visit them all, on the most mediocre world tour ever?