Riverina Country Changer’s four decades of service
A Country Change stands the test of time
Proving that making a Country Change is not just a new phenomenon, Leeton Mayor, Paul Maytom, moved from Newcastle to this vibrant Riverina Shire in 1967.
Growing industrialisation in New South Wales’ port city was evident even in the ’60s. The increased hustle and bustle presented enough of a reason for Paul to want to leave the city and explore further afield. Looking to travel, for job opportunities and to ‘get away from it all’, Paul was drawn to the Riverina.
Employment opportunities abound in the Riverina
Beginning with fruit picking, Paul could see that the Riverina’s vibrant agricultural region offered many employment opportunities and he soon began working as a labourer at Ricegrowers Cooperative, now SunRice. In the beginning, he was also able to return to the fruit farms during harvest to supplement his income. Paul noted, “In a rural town you get to have a lot of varied opportunities in your job. From a career point of view, it is very stimulating and satisfying.” Living this ethos, he took every opportunity to learn the rice business and soon rose through the ranks to become mill manager, retiring after a distinguished 45-year career.
Dedicating decades of service
While most retirees would be content with four-and-a-half-decades of involvement in the agricultural sector, Mayor Maytom is also into his fourth decade of enthusiastically guiding his community through his roles at Leeton Council; more than 15 of which have been as Mayor.
In contrast to life in metropolitan Newcastle, living in the Riverina has allowed Paul to engage with people in a more down to earth, grassroots way. A country lifestyle is more intimate. “I enjoy meeting people, forming a connection with members of the community and making friends more easily [than I would have in the city],” he said.
Serving Country Changers from all walks of life
In 2016, Mayor Maytom became a Paul Harris Fellow for Service to Local Government and the Community. He’s also received a Rotary Award for Excellence in Service to Humanity, for his work helping refugees settle into Leeton Shire and feel a genuine sense of belonging in their new community.
“There is much to do in Leeton, including opportunities for meeting people from many different cultures,” Mayor Maytom said. Many seasonal workers and skilled migrants have found employment in the highly innovative and entrepreneurial value-adding industries that have emerged from the original irrigated agricultural sector. “You get to meet many people from all walks of life and form a lot of friendships,” he added.
Leeton busts regional misconceptions
“The town is small enough to be personal but big enough to offer everything one needs for a quality lifestyle,” Paul reflects. Servicing the second largest regional centre in the Western Riverina, Leeton Shire Council plays an essential role in agriculture, agricultural processing, transport and logistics, education and research.
While there are commonly held misconceptions that regional areas lack services, facilities and opportunities for work, Leeton is a prime example to the contrary. “When you arrive, you are pleasantly surprised to find great schools, impressive sports facilities, exciting arts and cultural opportunities and no end of industry, investment and job opportunities,” said the Mayor.
Leeton’s Mayor speaks from experience
Having experienced a Country Change firsthand, you can trust the Mayor’s advice when he says, “Take the step. You will look back and say, ‘Why didn’t I do it sooner?’ Leeton is a great place to settle down and raise a family.”
If you’re looking for more information about what to do in Leeton, make sure to visit the Leeton Tourism website. And if you’re ready to make your own Country Change to Leeton, download the Leeton Shire Council’s New Resident’s Kit and Contact us to see how we can help you plan your move.