Land Of Opportunity Beckons City Dwellers / Hopetoun ‘Home Away From Home’

An interesting article that I can back absolutely 100%. Well done The Age! I love this place like a home away from home!

There is not a single traffic light or parking meter anywhere in the shire, locals say traffic jams are non-existent, and ”fancy” houses in town sell for less than $200,000.

There are jobs available for nurses, teachers, hospitality workers, farm hands, truck drivers and others. For those who want to be their own boss, there are a handful of local businesses for sale, including a couple of hotels, a post office and a supermarket.

If you live in Melbourne these opportunities are not on your doorstep. But if you feel like escaping to the country and like the wide open spaces of the state’s north-west and big Mallee sunsets, these are the kinds of attributes that the Yarriambiack Shire Council has to offer.

Next Saturday the shire, home to towns such as Warracknabeal and Hopetoun, will host its first open day in a bid to attract more residents. While Melburnians debate the height of apartment buildings and length of their shadows, Yarriambiack Shire – population 7500 – has plenty of room to grow. The shire, which straddles the line separating the Mallee and the Wimmera, is one of many country councils spruiking their towns, lifestyles and opportunities over coming months.

The day will start with a barbecue lunch on the shore of Lake Lascelles, a Mallee town of about 600 people, where ”local champions” will be on hand to champion the region. If it is country footy you want to see they will take you to a match, if you are interested in education they will host you on a tour of schools, and if it is bushwalking you are keen on they will take you there.

”You tell us what you’d like to see, what interests you, what you want to know about to make this move successful and we’ll match you up,” says mayor Kylie Zanker.

When the touring is over dinner will be cooked for visitors in a camp oven or on a barbecue by the lake. It will be followed by a bonfire, yarning around the fire and a bit of guitar.

Accommodation will be free in the Mallee Bush Retreat at the lake, in cabins that have a farming flavour. Two of them are converted grain silos, and others resemble farm buildings such as machinery sheds and a stable.

A range of jobs are waiting for people tempted by a move, Cr Zanker says.”If you’re a panel beater you could walk into a job tomorrow, if you’re an electrician you could walk into a job tomorrow. Builders, we’re short of builders, because we do have a large amount of economic growth,” she says.

Farmer Bert Hallam, chairman of the committee that manages the lake and cabins, believes the open day is a good idea. ”It’s certainly worth having a go, because the infrastructure in Hopetoun itself can support a lot larger population than 600,” he says. ”Our medical services are excellent. We’ve got a hospital, full-time doctor and a pharmacy. We’re probably streets ahead of larger regional centres.”

But if you prefer the north-east to the north-west, Benalla Rural City will host an open day on July 27. The council, about two hours’ drive from Melbourne, will partner the Victorian Farmers Federation and appeal to people who want to farm, ”for those who have always wanted to own a piece of rural Victoria and live off the land”, says promotional material.

Visitors will be shown farms, visit a country footy match and meet real estate agents, business owners and CFA representatives.

For those who would rather live near a regional city of more than 70,000 people, Latrobe City Council in the state’s east will host an open day on May 26. Visitors will tour university, TAFE and school facilities, hospitals, childcare, galleries and sports and leisure facilities.

Latrobe, less than two hours from Melbourne, is linked to the city by the Princes Freeway and rail services.

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