Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Getting the Best out of Regional Living - Wagga Wagga case study

Photo: Wagga Wagga Civic Centre, Riverina, NSW

This post, addressed to both those already living in Regional Australia and those who might like to live there, takes the NSW city of Wagga Wagga as a case study in getting the best out of regional life.

Wagga Wagga is the putative capital of the Riverina region of NSW. Like the New England region, Riverina has long aspired to achieve self government as a separate state in the Australian Federation. This movement reached its peak under the charismatic Charles Hardy during the depression when Riverina threatened to secede from NSW.

As an aside, I have included the Australian Dictionary of Biography link to Hardy with some reluctance because I do not think that Andrew's article does Hardy justice.

The separation movement died down, but the Riverina retains a powerful sense of its own identity.

Wagga Wagga itself has over 57,000 people, a regional museum, art gallery, a campus of Charles Sturt University, all the things that you would want in a place to live. But my focus here is not on the city itself, but on the city as a point from which to explore a variety of experiences.

Let's start with skiing, something many Sydney people love.

Sydney people going to Thredbo take over six hours by road, quite a bit more sometimes since the roads are so crowded. The time from Wagga Wagga is four hours. If you want to try the Victorian ski fields, Mount Hotham is about five hours away, still less than the distance from Sydney to Thredbo.

Australians like their wine. Wagga Wagga has its own vineyards. But assume that you would like to try something different. Two hours twenty minutes takes you to Rutherglen (Sydney seven and a half hours), two hours twenty minutes to Griffith (Sydney eight hours). Some vineyards are closer to Sydney, Hunter or Orange for example, but there is still a lot of choice.

Assume that you would like to visit Australia's national capital on business or just to taste the local wines. Here you only save half an hour one way by living in Wagga Wagga, but still not to be sneezed at. You can service Canberra clients just as easily out of Wagga Wagga as you can out of Sydney.

Feeling bored and want to go on a luxury paddle steamer or just take some time out in a house boat? Albury is under two hours away, Echuca (Victoria's river boat capital) four hours. Of course, Sydney people can fight their way up to the Hawkesbury to at least get a taste of this.

Thinking of dropping down to Melbourne? Wagga Wagga a bit over five hours by road, Sydney ten hours. You can visit Melbourne for the week end from Wagga Wagga by road, you really need to fly from Sydney.

There is a lot more, but I hope that I have made my point. Note that all this ignores the immediate day to day time savings of living in Wagga.

Does Sydney have some advantages? Yes. If you want to go to the beach, then Sydney living offers real time advantages. Beyond that, no.


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