How can small country towns regenerate themselves?

July 13, 2011

For several decades the fate of small country towns has been spoken of as hanging on with little scope for growth. Recent mineral booms have delayed the process of decline for some, but as far as maintaining vigor across their social and economic base, few towns can honestly say that they are doing well.

Within the Gwydir Shire of northern NSW the “twin towns” of Warialda and Bingara are no exception to the pressures BUT there are moves afoot that promise to address the trend and even reverse it.

Both Bingara and Warialda have survived as service centres to their surrounding rural districts. They have had their ups and downs, coinciding with the fortunes of the Shire’s agricultural base. It would be a rare person involved in the local agricultural sector who would not say, that at the moment, things are tough.

The new opportunities focus on doing what these towns have always done, but doing it better. Through the Gwydir Shire Council (GSC) and the Gwydir Learning Region (GLR), a set of three Trade Training Centres (TTC’s) are being developed.

In Warialda a Heavy Vehicle Maintenance TTC is to be built adjoining Warialda High School, in Bingara a Hospitality skills focused “teaching kitchen” is to adjoin the Roxy café, and also in Bingara a primary industries TTC will form part of a more comprehensive project, the Australian Centre for Regenerative Agriculture – A Living Classroom.

As well as supporting the community vision for these projects, the GSC has engaged award winning Landscape Architect, John Mongard, to design some concept strategies for Warialda and Bingara in keeping with 21st Century social, economic and environmental trends.

Bingara and District VISION 2020 has invited their colleagues from the Warialda Chamber of Commerce plus any other citizens interested in the future of small country towns, to a Presentation Dinner to be held at the Roxy Café and Conference Room on the evening of Tuesday July 19.

The Dinner will be hosted by V2020 and generously sponsored by New England Mutual (NEM). There will be three presentations:

•    John Mongard. John will be in the Shire for the week leading up to the Bingara Orange Festival. He has been invited to speak at our meeting on the topic of “Planning for Dynamic Country Towns”.
•    Garry McDouall chairs the Australian Centre for Regenerative Agriculture – A Living Classroom Steering Committee. Garry has been invited to bring us up to date on the progress and planning for of this exciting project.
•    Rod Smith is the Training and Development Officer for GSC. Rod has overseen the Trade Training Centre projects. He has been invited to speak specifically about the Heavy Vehicle Maintenance TTC being planned for Warialda.

Those wishing to attend the Dinner and Presentations are asked to RSVP to V2020 President, Rick Hutton on 0428 255380 or email by Saturday July 16.