Living in regional Australia - pros and cons

by Farmer Liz
Pete and I live in the South Burnett region of Queensland.  We are about two hours drive from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Dalby and Toowoomba in each direction, which are all much larger towns and cities.  Its not exactly the middle of nowhere, its more like nowhere in the middle of everywhere else.

An afternoon walkies on our quiet country road

Only about 10% of Australians live in rural areas (although I'm not sure how they defined rural).  In fact, 25% live in Sydney, so there's more people in Sydney than living in rural areas.  This made me think that many of my readers have little experience with rural and regional Australia, but given that you're reading this blog, maybe you're interested in moving away from the city and into a regional or rural (or remote!) area at some stage.  And maybe you're wondering what its really like out here.

We've had a few trips to Brisbane lately (and of course Pete grew up there and I've lived there on and off a few times), which has helped me to contrast our quiet rural life with the busy city routines.  Our Eight Acres property is close to Nanango (population 4000), and Cheslyn Rise is close to Kumbia (population 350).  The biggest centre in the South Burnett is Kingaroy (population 12500).  I always think you can gauge the size of a town by the number of pubs and supermarkets.  Kingaroy has four pubs, three supermarkets and nearly all the other shops we need most of the time.  We pop in there every few weeks, and we go to Brisbane or Toowoomba every few months.

What I like about living in the country
I like going outside to lock up the chickens after dark and being able to look up and see the stars, smell the gum trees and hear only leaves rustling in the wind and the frogs and insects calling.  No neighbours, no cars and no streetlights!

Everyone is friendly.  We wave to everyone we pass in the car, we say g'day to everyone we pass on the street.  I tried that in Brisbane and all I got was funny looks.

Everyone is connected to the land and the weather.  Even people who live in town drink tank water and care about when its going to rain next.  Unlike the Brisbane conversation I overheard in which too ladies were complaining about the much-needed rain ruining their hair!

You can park anywhere.  Even in town.  I have never ever had to worry about where I was going to park.  Also, no traffic lights!  Well there is one set in Nanango and Pete can still get mild road-rage if he has to stop there for a minute :)

The Brisbane River

What is hard about living in the country
You can't always get what you need at the local shops.  I have to mail order a lot of things, but that's not so hard now with the internet, you just have to be organised.  And some things we have to drive into Brisbane to collect, like a new sofa, and floor tiles, but at least we are only two hours away.

Health care and education opportunities are limited.  I think it you're elderly, ill or young, its pretty tough living out here.  There is a small hospital, but if you need chemo or specialist care you have to go to a bigger centre.  There are highschools and a TAFE with limited courses, you have to leave to go to university or get a decent apprenticeship.  Jobs are pretty limited for young people.

Entertainment and other amenities are limited.  There is no BIG museums, art galleries, theatres, or libraries.  There is a small one screen movie cinema (which mostly shows childrens movies, we've never been to it).  There are other things, like country shows, rodeos, church concerts and local theatre groups, a small library, local galleries, that fill the gap.  These were the things I enjoyed in Brisbane while I was there.

There is no public transport.  Well there is a bus once a day on weekdays only that stops only in town centres and goes to Caboolture train-station, which is then an hour on the train to Brisbane.  But for general commuting to work, there is no public transport.  So you have to own a car.  When I lived in Brisbane for two years I had no car, and only used public transport and it was no problem.

Lack of diversity.  Nearly everyone here is a white Australia.  Some people have never left Australia, some have never left the state of Queensland.  There is a distinct lack of diversity and interest in other cultures.  I think its more ignorance than actual racism.  It wouldn't be easy living here if you looked different, even having a New Zealand accent is bad enough!

Postal service.  It can take a week for parcels to arrive from Brisbane, which is a 2 hour drive away.  I don't know why (possibly they go to Sydney to be sorted and then come back here, I wouldn't be surprised).

I'm not saying its unbearable out here, but I want you to know that some of the conveniences in the city are not available.  But for me all the positives make it worth the small sacrifices.  Before we moved here I had never really thought about what we might miss out on, so its good to know about these things if you're thinking about moving.

Do you live outside the cities?  What do you love, what do you miss?  If you're in the city, what do you want to know about country life?

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