Narembeen fence shows art and sole

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

On the seemingly endless road from Narembeen to Mt Walker, drivers would be excused for doing a double-take when they pass hundreds of shoes tied to a fence.

The odd shoes and boots are grabbing the attention of carloads of visitors to WA's eastern Wheatbelt.

Footwear of different makes and sizes create this unusual and colourful display just east of Narembeen, and it is worth slowing down to enjoy the spectacle put together by semi-retired farmers Helen and Ross Fidge.

According to Mrs Fidge, what started as a fun, but small-scale idea, has now ballooned into an interactive tourist display.

On a driving holiday through the vast plains of Nebraska, the couple took a wrong turn and came across boots placed on a series of fence posts.

For Mrs Fidge, it was just an interesting sight. But for her husband Ross, it was much more, and it sparked the idea to create Western Australia's own Boot Mile.

Mrs Fidge said the boots on fence posts in the US were placed there to protect the posts from the weather.

But she said WA's Boot Mile was there simply for the spectacle.

"It took a while to take off," Mrs Fidge said. "Ross started off with some old shoes and then he put a sign up and the next thing we knew people started dropping off shoes near the fence.

"Ross will go out to the fence and there will often be a bag of shoes just left there, so he hangs them up."

Mrs Fidge said while it had been dubbed the Boot Mile in the early stages, a final name has yet to be agreed.

She estimates there are more than 500 shoes on the fence now, and the aim is to fill the fence line until it reaches the height of an old pull-chain dunny.

There has been so much interest from the community that a drum has now been placed at the hardware store in town for donated shoes and there are also plans to have an old shoe depot in Busselton.

Narembeen is fast making a name for itself as a progressive community, with the Boot Mile one of several the tourist attractions luring in visitors on their way to Wave Rock.

"We are proud of Narembeen and we want to show it off, and it's important to attract new people to live and visit the community," Mrs Fidge said.

"You have to think outside the square if you want to set yourself apart from other Wheatbelt towns and encourage people to make the journey here."

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