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Onwards and upwards

Sometimes in Narrabri Shire we don't know just how lucky we are

Onwards and upwards

The idea to write what follows came to me as I was on a road trip through NSW, South Australia and Victoria during the recent school holidays.
During that two-week trip I visited many places I knew pretty well, and plenty more I was seeing for the first time.
It would be fair to say that, almost without exception, if their local paper had just one of the headlines you see excerpted in the print edition of today's Courier, residents would be overjoyed.
The reason being that most small towns - founded and ever since largely based on agriculture - are suffering a death by a thousand cuts.
Many had more closed shops than open ones, several seemed to have little sustainable means of providing for the future, and others were content to remain sleepy little hamlets, much as they have always been.
But for the majority who aspired to more - and that is generally any town with a population above about 1500 (and even a few smaller ones) - it was hard to see how they might achieve it.
Their solution has traditionally been to look for a saviour - one big economic ‘miracle’ (which often turns out to be anything but) to keep them alive.
Which isn’t particularly new, or even confined to small towns.
After all, the federal government has become addicted to receipts from the resources industry, replacing agriculture as the commodity price most watched in Canberra.
Any other economic initiative pales in significance given the ‘miracle’ that can be wrought if the price of iron ore rises more than expected.
In the meantime they concern themselves with trivialities such as social engineering issues, social media and other inanities.
The Zanetti cartoon on page 7 of today's edition captures that disconnect perfectly.
Unfortunately also there are many, many more small towns than there are economic miracles waiting to happen.
Those of you who hail from some of these places know that all too well.
One town is bucking that trend, and almost alone.
That town is Narrabri.