A call to the country has led to a beautiful new lifestyle, a close-knit community and an exciting home renovation project.
The first time Lisa and Lauren laid eyes on Coolamon, it was love at first sight. The couple had been dreaming of a country change for a while. They would often take weekend drives from Canberra – where they were living – out to The Riverina to explore the regional towns in the area. They were looking to see if any felt like ‘home’.
So it was a sentimental moment when they drove down the main street of Coolamon for the first time, looked at each other and said, ‘This is the one.’
But it wasn’t until Lisa was posted to the Wagga RAAF Base that they finally set their country change plan in motion. And then there was nothing stopping them!
A small town with a big heart
While Lisa and Lauren agree that integrating into any new community has its challenges, they have found their neighbours and Coolamon residents to be friendly and hospitable. ‘The community in Coolamon have welcomed us so warmly, and I love seeing people you know around town or the same friendly faces in the coffee shop,’ says Lauren.
The pair weren’t going to sit on the sidelines waiting to be brought into the community, however. They also made a conscious effort early on to join sporting clubs, take on voluntary positions and participate in community groups in the area to help build local connections. They highly recommend that other ‘country changers’ also put themselves out there in the early stages of their regional move. It’s a great way to help them feel more settled and involved in their new home.
A more relaxed way of life
Lisa and Lauren love that Coolamon boasts a small-town charm while offering access to many amenities, such as shops, dining venues and sporting facilities. ‘Being only a short drive from Wagga made Coolamon the right choice. We love the balance of being close to everything you need but with all the benefits of living in the country.’
Both Lisa and Lauren have lived regionally before. Lisa grew up in a small town in the Northern Rivers, and Lauren spent four years in Dubbo – so they knew what to expect from country life. When the pair were craving a break from city life, and in need of a change of pace, they knew just where to look.
‘I’ve really enjoyed the change and have been surprised with how easily we’ve slipped into a more relaxed and balanced life,” says Lauren.
Leisure time has been spent setting up a home gym, starting a vegetable and herb garden, and taking advantage of their great regional location with their nature-loving dogs. ‘The main positive I’ve found moving to a regional area has been how much time we find ourselves outdoors exploring – it’s been such a change from living in a city,’ says Lisa.
The move has also enabled them to buy a home on a few acres with plenty of space for themselves, their dogs and the animals they plan to have in the future.
Both Lisa and Lauren were lucky enough to maintain positions within their organisations throughout the move. Lisa’s transfer to Wagga meant an easy transition in terms of work environment, and although she now has a longer commute, she enjoys the opportunity to listen to audiobooks and podcasts.
Lauren works as a recruitment manager for a national company and was well supported with her shift to working remotely. She says working from home can have its lonely moments, but she has made an effort to schedule in daily coffee breaks and lunchtime walks. She is grateful to enjoy the time she previously spent commuting by walking her dogs or exercising.
The charm of Coolamon
Saluted as ‘the heart of The Riverina’, Coolamon is adored for its heritage buildings, wide open spaces and country charm. Its location makes it an easy choice for those looking to make a country change. It sits inland, approximately a five hour drive from both Sydney and Melbourne, while Wagga Wagga is only 30 minutes away, and Canberra is three hours.
The town’s rich history is celebrated at the Coolamon Fire Museum and Coolamon RSL Memorial Museum and as part of the Canola Trail, that winds through the seasonal golden fields. Its main street is dotted with beautifully preserved architecture, friendly faces and farm-fresh food. A little further afield, you’ll find grazing and farming land and a wealth of biking and walking nature trails.
The Coolamon Shire has events to enjoy almost every weekend, and there’s something for everyone. From book fairs to spoon carving workshops. From art shows to live music. Whether you like art, beauty, food or crafts, there’s an event that will suit you right down to your boots. And be sure not to miss the annual Ardlethan Show, where you can experience all the best local food and experiences with your neighbours and friends!
Words of wisdom
There is no doubt the country change to Coolamon has been a positive experience for Lisa and Lauren. Their advice to others considering a country change is clear: ‘Do it! You won’t regret it. But be prepared to put yourself out there, say hello to everyone and make connections. We also think picking the right town that has enough of what you need while giving you the lifestyle you’re chasing is important.’