Voice of Regional Australia: Changing regions growing strong

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM group editor Kathy Sharpe.

Locals racing their horses down Illaroo Road, Nowra, before it was sealed.

Locals racing their horses down Illaroo Road, Nowra, before it was sealed.

The changing face of our regional towns has been on my mind lately, even as I watch the view from my own doorstep.

Anyone who's ever travelled to the NSW South Coast during holiday times will have probably enjoyed some contemplative time in a traffic jam around the Shoalhaven River Bridge.

Major works to ease congestion through Nowra have required the removal of more than a dozen homes from the nearby Illaroo Road. Families, some who have been there for generations have now moved out, and the houses sit empty, waiting for the bulldozers.

Some of those people would remember when the thoroughfare was a dirt road used mostly by feet and horses hooves.

But change must come. The beautiful NSW inland towns of Bathurst and Orange continue to grow rapidly, and it's a trend no doubt being repeated in other states. Waves of tree changers and sea changers bring growth and prosperity, and they come not just for affordability. They come for the things that money can't buy; a sense of safety, a connected community and close access to unspoilt natural environments.

Readers of our local papers are always keen to have their say on development and this letter writer to the Western Advocate in Bathurst offered a counter view to the general celebration, wondering if the rush to rural was all good news.

There's plenty of property news to read around the Australian Community Media network at the moment with would-be homebuyers and investors watching the market closely. I liked the Illawarra Mercury's take on it all. Property reporter Brendan Crabb had covered the dip in prices being felt in Wollongong, but decided not to dwell on the negative. Sure, the market is down, he wrote, but, hey, here's what $500,000 can buy you at the moment!

Of course, we need jobs for all the people who are coming, and because we're being told we'll all still be working when we're on our walking frames, we'll need plenty of them. At least Bunnings at Wagga Wagga in south-west NSW is doing its bit, with two of its most treasured employees in their seventies.

And, as 74-year-old worker Shirley Smith told The Daily Advertiser's Jess Whitty, "Why sit at home and waste it; bring your knowledge into the workforce, help and nurture young people so that they can take over when you leave."

Wagga's Bunnings team members Allan Fleischer and Shirley Smith are both in their seventies and still loving their work.

Wagga's Bunnings team members Allan Fleischer and Shirley Smith are both in their seventies and still loving their work.

There's a bit of a kerfuffle going on at Bondi Beach at the moment as people argue about the place of political art. On a smaller scale, a local bard has made their own statement on the window of a vacated former bank branch in suburban Cleveland in Queensland.

"Ding dong, the bank has gone. Hip hop, another empty shop. Feeling perplexed, who may be next?"

Yes, he has a point. But don't get me started on the banks, in particular the slowness of any action following the banking royal commission.

Speaking of royal commissions, our journalists at The Senior have been following the Aged Care Royal Commission and have brought together coverage and reaction from around the country in one spot at

Between each month's print edition of The Senior - which is distributed nation-wide - you can read more about the royal commission here.

Kathy Sharpe,

Group editor, ACM

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