Blame COVID-19, blame general human enlightenment - we're seeing more and more Aussies trading inner city apartment living for the sprawling countryside.
We asked for this. We've been selling our way of life for generations, boasting about our view of the Milky Way and not being able to see our neighbours' undies hanging on the line.
But is it a case of being careful what you wish for?
While only 60 kilometres from Brisbane city, not long ago the town of Beaudesert still held enough country charm and a slow enough pace to protect it from urban infusion.
Now, a drive between Beaudesert and Brisbane is not separated by green pastures and the odd produce store - this idyllic dream was quickly smothered by urban sprawl to the point where 'Beauy' may as well be just another suburb of Queensland's great capital.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2020-21 regional Australia's population grew more than the capital cities for the first time since 1981, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it.
I'll be the first to admit I've bragged about my way of life and openly questioned why more people haven't seen the light, literally.
Now I'm wondering if it's too late to pump the brakes on what seems to be a runaway train full of business suits on a one-way ticket into the bush.
We want them, just not all of them. Notice us, join us, but don't get too close.
These are the types of messages I feel we're sending to the city, and it comes from a place of self-preservation.
Population growth in regional areas must be accompanied by financial support and development from a government level.
I don't envisage the work from home deal remaining popular with company bosses in Shanghai if dial-up internet is still faster than the NBN. We simply cannot handle more traffic on clapped-out, patched-up roads.
I drove home from Brisbane on the Ipswich Motorway a couple of weeks ago and noticed signs promising multi-million dollar upgrades to what seemed like a runway-quality road surface.
This is where the real disconnect lies.
We welcome those interested in country life, but we need to be able to support them when they arrive or watch them turn tail in a cloud of dust, leaving the originals to pick up the pieces.
- Lucy Moore, writer/grazier
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