Unexpected opportunities in Riverina towns highlight the benefits of regional living

Blog Post
November 17, 2020
March 5, 2024

Lifelong learning allows Lockhart local to find new drive

An abundance of advantages weighed the scales heavily in favour of a Country Change to Lockhart for Jon Bartolo and his family. “It was amazing how many boxes this town ticks!” he said.

Lockhart – a Country Changer’s Goldmine

Lockhart Shire truly is a Country Changer’s gold mine. Under the guise of a quiet quintessential country town, Lockhart is endowed with a diverse and seemingly endless range of offerings. There are cultural heritage sites, beautiful landscapes, affordable housing options and a thriving local economy. This productive agricultural and pastoral region offers a friendly, welcoming community of around 3000 residents, but is close to the larger metropolitan hubs of both Wagga Wagga and Albury-Wodonga.

Lockhart Sunrise

Fast vs vast – what vista are you seeking?

Jon, a former courier and truck driver from Penrith, spent a lot of time on the road. As a result, he had plenty of opportunities to consider what was most important in life. During this time, long-haul trips from Queensland, through the Riverina and back to Sydney uncovered a vast and rich landscape that couldn’t have been further from his home vistas in suburban Penrith. His deadline-driven city courier route only exacerbated these differences and prompted him to consider alternatives.

A winter visit to Blayney in New South Wales’ Central West made Jon and his wife, Kathi, realise they desired a milder climate in their ‘forever-town,’ and were encouraged by their family to visit Lockhart.

Exploring the Lockhart-local lifestyle

Staying the weekend in a local motel allowed the family to explore the town and it only took one visit for the Bartolo’s to recognise that Lockhart’s inherent qualities lined up perfectly with their requirements.Friendly chats with shopkeepers and locals alike revealed an enjoyable pace of life, a vibrant community spirit and fulfilling employment opportunities. Discovering a new aged care facility had opened in town, Kathi, recently qualified in the profession, dropped in to inspect it and was offered work.

Lockhart Industrial Park is a thriving enterprise situated east of the town.

Learning in Lockhart

Less than six months after their visit, the Bartolo’s were happy to call Lockhart home. With daughter, Khloe, enrolled in preschool and Kathi working in in the care home, Jon began driving trucks for a company in Wagga Wagga. Eight years on, the changes in the business landscape had him exploring alternative employment opportunities. He wasn’t far into his search before the concept of lifelong learning really came to life in his hometown.

When the local butcher, Lockhart Gourmet Meats, offered Jon a mature-aged apprenticeship he began to see just how many opportunities and how much support was available. From the owner of the butchery to local council and other business and community members, Jon has been encouraged in his new endeavour and is happy to be giving back to his community. “I especially like that we showcase and supply other local products in the shop,” he enthused. “It shows all the great things the region has to offer.”

Jon at Gourmet Meats

Strong communities support strong economies

Each business and employee in a regional town plays an integral role in building community spirit and strengthening the economy. Along with his enthusiasm for these activities, Jon is appreciative of the slower pace of life in Lockhart, where he now has more time to spend with his family. “Removing the pressure to work so many hours gave me time back and cheaper housing has essentially put money back in my pocket,” explained Jon.In addition to housing affordability, Lockhart Shire has great schools, childcare centres, hospitals, allied health providers. Council, sporting and community clubs host many events that bring visitors and residents together throughout the year. The Sculpture and Heritage Trail that meanders through the town features sculptures of all sizes made from recycled materials. Many of those on the trail are past years’ winning Spirit of the Land competition entries. In addition to the street and garden art, vibrant painted buildings and water towers form a part of the wider Riverina Outdoor Art Trail.

Lockhart Shire Council, has plenty of sporting and community clubs host many events that bring visitors and residents together throughout the year.

Along with the local events and activities, there is even more on offer in the wider Riverina. The Bartolo’s have enjoyed how easy it has been to get out into nature and to attend festivals and celebrations in other towns. Jon was pleasantly surprised when he realized that, “Everything is no more than a day trip away.”

If you’re looking to make a Country Change to Lockhart Shire, Contact us to find out more about the area or to see how we can help you plan your move.

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