Newcomers heed the call to the country


Newcomers heed the call to the country

RENEE VANDENBERG: The Dumbalk resident is embracing a rural lifestyle, along with her happy kelpie Riley.

Matt Dunn


THE tree changers are coming.

With an enviable lifestyle, open spaces, clean air and a job opportunity for every imaginable trade, our region is becoming the ‘go to’ spot for those keen to get away from the hustle and bustle.

One Agency realtor Dean Jones said he was inspired to come to the region by his brother, who was go-karting at Stony Creek when he started to think about a permanent move to the region. Dean and his mum were soon following suit.

“The attraction was almost the same for all of us. It was a combination of wanting to gravitate toward what is happening here but also get away from what’s happening there,” he said of his decision to break the suburban shackles.  

“My brother summed it by saying, the suburbs are at you and there’s this constant encroachment of traffic, cars, noise, pollution. He was living in one of those estates in Cranbourne, which had one of the largest state schools right in the middle of it.

“It would take 20 to 30 minutes each day to get out of the estate.”

Although Dean was living in the relatively rural Warrandyte, the traffic was equally horrendous.  

It was also “hyper political”, with neighbours battling against one another over minor disputes involving cats, trees, fences and any number of other territorial claims.

While he’s only been here for three years, he has seen a definite change in employment opportunities, with a growth in the “non-farming, non-trade sectors”.

While Fish Creek has become “a bit of an arty-graphic designy, corporatey type of place”, Meeniyan’s “a bit of an arty community, in the Fitzroy sense”.

Across the region, towns are changing, he believes, with more and more people from other places keen to make a life here.

Official Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed 2439 people arrived in Bass Coast Shire in 2017 and a further 3180 in 2018, bumping up the population to 35,327.

South Gippsland Shire saw 1692 people land on the doorstep in 2017 and 1961 in 2018, increasing the region’s overall head count to 29,576. 

While people have moved away – particularly the young – the influx of people in the 45 – 64 years category made sure the ledger was definitely in the black, with the two local government areas netting and extra 2320 people in the past two years.

Some of the new arrivals live in country manors, while others, like Renee Vandenberg and her husband Edwin, are embracing a more intrepid existence.

A bigger and better residence is planned for their 50 acres in Dumbalk, but for the meantime the couple and their three teenage children are living in a very small house and a converted hut.

Snakes, cold showers in winter, spitting alpacas and dying calves have all presented challenges.

But the positives have far outweighed the negatives for this former Melbourne family.

With a pioneering attitude, the children have taken to hosting swim parties in the family dam, and spent lazy summer nights sleeping under the stars.

“My son has set up a hut in the bush and the kids will all go camping out there. It’s really quite amazing. They’ll have fires and sleep on the trampoline,” she said.

On those days when living like first settlers tests her, there is always something to remind her of just how good the change has been: “I looked out across the paddock and there a deer running through. How amazing is that?”

Echidnas, wombats and any number of native animals are also regular visitors. 

Renee said locals had helped make the move something special.  

“The community is really great. Edwin’s in the CFA and we’ve made loads of friends. Our neighbours come for Christmas lunch and we always play cards,” she said.



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Posted by on Nov 12 2019. Filed under Community, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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