Pingberra, New South Wales is a small village in the hills about 160 miles northeast of Sydney. Before the Ruin, it was an agricultural service community of about 150 residents. Things haven’t changed much since then. There’s still less than 200 people living here, the majority of them still working the surrounding fields and forests.

In pre-Ruin times most of the land around Pingberra was owned or leased by the General Construction Corporation, which operated a grain receival center in town. The GCC’s chief man in the area, Victor Westwood, was wise enough to see the Ruin coming and canny enough to realize that Pingberra could be a self-sustaining, easily-defensible haven from the chaos engulfing the rest of the world. Westwood spent weeks gathering his friends and family, diverting much-needed GCC resources to the town, and working with the community to prepare for the coming disaster. Westwood’s wisdom and vision guided the town through the dark days of the Ruin. In gratitude, the townsfolk recognized him as their Squire, a position and title that has passed on to Victor’s son, Eliot.

Back in the day, most of Pingberra’s residents lived in homes scattered throughout the township. Now everyone lives within the village limits. The town is comprised of about twenty buildings clustered mostly along the main street, Pingberra Road. Originally, these buildings were mostly shops and small office buildings, but they have all been converted to living quarters. Only the schoolhouse, church, and sheriff’s station retain their original function. A blockade wall, comprised mostly of timber and scrapped vehicles towed down from the main highway, surrounds the enclave. There are gates at both ends of Pingberra Road; the East Gate is large enough to allow entry to an eighteen-wheeler, and the West Gate is just big enough for an average sedan to pass through. There is another, secret gate located behind the churchyard that’s barely large enough for an adult to crawl through. The farmers, herders, and woodsmen venture out each morning to ply their trades and return home each night to the safety and security of Pingberra proper.

Fresh water for Pingberra is provided by the Weecrick River, which cuts through the heart of the town and parallels the main road. Metal gates guard both ends of the river and prevent anything larger than a good-sized fish from slipping through. The north gate can be fully barricaded in case of river contamination, and a small sluice feeds the town’s siege reserve.

Crops grown in Pingberra include barley, wheat, corn, beans, potatoes, and turnips. Sheep, chickens, and goats are numerous, and a small herd of dairy cows provide milk and cheese. Pigs are raised in the “downwind” part of town and their manure is used for methane fuel.

The townsfolk are very protective of their tractors, trucks, and other vehicles; theft in whole or in part is treated as a hanging offense. All of the motor vehicles in town have been converted to diesel and Pingberra manufacturers its own bio-fuel and ethanol in an array of old water heaters situated as far from the residential area as possible. Still, fuel supplies is carefully monitored and apportioned, so most folks get about on foot or by bicycle. Horses are used for long-distance trips.

The town populace is divided into two semi-official groups, the Landsmen and the Tradesmen. The Landsmen are the township’s farmers, hunters, and herders. The Tradesmen are the skilled laborers, mechanics, and technicians. Neither group could survive without the other, but that hasn’t stopped minor quibbling – or the occasional row – over resources.

Pingberra is run on democratic principals, with all adult residents getting a vote on any major issue that may arise. Day-to-day decisions are settled by the five “elders” of the village council. By town charter, the Landsmen and the Tradesmen each have a representative on the Council. The town vicar and the village squire have hereditary seats and are presupposed to be neutral in regards to the Landsmen-Tradesmen rivalry. An elected chairman presides over meetings and votes only in case of ties; [[matty}Matty Jarman]] has filled this position since it was created fifteen years ago.

Town defenses and security is overseen by the chief Regulator and his two deputies, although every able-bodied adult is expected to pitch in during a crisis. The Regulators also maintain Pingberra’s weapon stockpile in the vault of the old bank, and see to it that no one violates the firearms ban within town limits. The current chief Regulator is Michael “Naz” Nazareth, a wanderer who settled in Pingberra after helping deal with some raiders a few years back. The Regulators are considered neither Landsmen nor Tradesmen and answer only to the town council.

Pingberra conducts some trade with neighboring communities. Horse-drawn merchant caravans go out after every fall harvest to swap fruit, vegetables, and grains for items the town cannot produce on their own. The merchants take care not to be followed back as most citizens live in dread of of their idyllic community being discovered by the outside world; those working the trade routes would rather die than divulge Pingberra’s location.


AFTERMATH! - Cities in Dust Preterite