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AU Brewarrina residents reckon it's the best place in Australia

Property Here - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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NSW map. Photo: Jim Fisher Source:Supplied

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IT'S an Outback town with a bad rep but those born and bred in the northern NSW town of Brewarrina reckon it’s the best place to live.

As its 1100 residents celebrate the town’s 150th birthday this week, locals told why “city folk” should consider a tree change to one of the country’s most disadvantaged Local Government Areas.

They say freedom, finances and opportunity – as well as "knowing who the dickheads are" – make it a great town.

Sergeant Dave Wheatley has lived there since 1997 after marrying a grazier's daughter.

"Initially I wouldn’t have stayed but now I see the benefits of staying here," he said.

"For us it’s financial, it’s family, it’s the freedom to do what you want and the relaxed lifestyle suits me to a T."



Bathurst Street in Brewarrina. Photo: Jim Fisher Source: Supplied

Dave said police work was constant but that crime was no worse than in other areas.

"It’s mostly alcohol-related crime and DV (domestic violence) issues," he said.

"It’s not particularly dangerous. It’s no different to being anywhere else."

Margie Pippos has run Cafe De Luxe in the main street with her husband Angelo since moving back to her hometown 16 years ago.

"I like the peace and quiet and the very free life that you’ve got out here," she said.

"You don’t have to worry about anything really."

Margie and her husband, both 65, have been serving their hand-cut chips and home-made fruit squashes since taking over the Greek soda parlour from Angelo’s father George.

"We need to encourage more people to come out here and live because we need to get more businesses in town," she said.

"We need to encourage some city people to come to the bush."



A bridge in Brewarrina. Photo: Jim Fisher Source: Supplied

Butcher Shane Chapman moved from Newscastle a few years ago with his family after a decade of catching Murray cod and yellowbelly in Brewarrina's Barwon river.

"We had a three-to-five year plan and now we’re staying on indefinitely until our daughter is ready for high school," he said.

"We could’ve gone to other places in the district but they would have had a totally different atmosphere. This is a little oasis in NSW."



One of the main streets of Brewarrina. Photo: Jim Fisher Source: Supplied

The tiny town’s population fell from 1197 in 2001 to 1121 in 2007 and there will soon be one less resident.

Of the 15 people spoke to, Lynda Clark was the only person "busting to get out of the place".

"I don’t love anything about it," she said.

"I came up here from Bateman’s Bay looking for an adventure – found it!

"I want to go to the Hunter Valley or somewhere nice like that."



Water tank in Brewarrina. Photo: Jim Fisher Source: Supplied

Lynda is coming to the end of her three-year stint working in the town.

"I’m at the end of my rope," she said.

"I love the job – I just don’t like the town.

"I don’t like the fact it’s a welfare town, that a handout is expected, that no one thinks of getting work.

"No one thinks of paying for things. If they want a new TV they’ll break in and take one. It’s just depressing."



Hotel Brewarrina. Photo: Jim Fisher Source: Supplied

But Aboriginal education worker Liz Dennis, who returned to Brewarrina 26 years ago, said blow-ins didn’t appreciate the town’s beauty.

"If you weren’t born here you won’t love it," she said.

The tiny town has a strong Aboriginal history, with the discovery of 40,000-year old fish traps.

"This is where I belong. Because of my heritage and Aboriginality, it’s got a lot of meaning."

She believes there’s a strong sense of community in the town, which sits 800km north-west of Sydney.

Mechanic and Councillor Phil O’Connor agrees.

"Bre’s got a bad rap for a long time but it’s nothing like that," he said.

"In the 90s the town was pretty ‘how you going’ and people didn’t want to stop here but now it’s clean.

"There might be a lot of people who disagree with me but I reckon it’s one of the best towns in Australia."



One of the main streets of Brewarrina. Photo: Jim Fisher Source: Supplied

The father-of-three said there was endless opportunity.

"People say there’s no jobs but if you come here and you’ve got a bit of enterprise about you, you can set up a business down the main street and make that much money," he said.

The 48-year-old, born in Brewarrina, said the town had "everything going for it".

"It’s got beautiful climate, a beautiful river and you wouldn’t find better people in Australia," he said.

"I’m not moving. I’ll be the last one to turn out the lights when it’s over."

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Brewarrina RSL. Photo: Jim Fisher

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