Horsham to Horsham: polar opposites

Crop farming, including the spectacular Canola crops, are a feature of the Wimmera in Spring. Pictured is fields, with the Grampians National Park in the backdrop. Picture: KATE HEALY
Crop farming, including the spectacular Canola crops, are a feature of the Wimmera in Spring. Pictured is fields, with the Grampians National Park in the backdrop. Picture: KATE HEALY

In a new West Sussex County Times feature we will be carrying reports from Horsham’s namesake in Australia.

Head of Digital for the County Times Steve Payne has had an introductory story posted on the Wimmera Mail-Times as part of the two papers’ ‘Horsham to Horsham’ initiative and now it’s our turn, with the first column from chief of staff Lauren Henry.

Horsham to Horsham

Horsham to Horsham

The Wimmera Mail-Times, a newspaper based in Horsham, Victoria, in Australia, reports on news from across the region.

Chief of staff Lauren Henry moved to Horsham in 2007, where she now lives with her fiancé Jamie and his nine-year-old daughter.

IN many respects the two cities of Horsham, in Australia and the United Kingdom, are polar opposites.

Opposite sides of the world. Opposite seasons. Opposite geographic locations in terms of proximity to capital cities.

But there are some similarities, which are quite quirky, including both sitting in political heartlands of conservatism.

Our state and federal MPs represent the National Party, and have a long stranglehold on the area.

In fact, we sit in among the safest seats in Australia, a point that is not necessarily helpful in securing government funding.

Over the past few months, there has been a long list of stories about stories that have appeared in the Wimmera Mail-Times about the government withdrawing funding from various programs. Like everywhere, Horsham is feeling the effects of tough economic times.

Horsham, Australia, is the unofficial capital of the Wimmera, a region which depends on the agricultural industry.

Horsham is the service and retail centre for many farmers, mostly crop and sheep, and the people who make up our small, yet vibrant, towns across the region.

Australian Census results, released last week, show Horsham’s population had the biggest increase of those shires that make up the Wimmera. There are now nearly 20,000 in Horsham, in a region of about 60,000 people.

Horsham’s economy is heavily influenced by the success of the region’s farmers. If the crops have produced a good yield, which is dependent on the weather, then the flow-on affects to all facets of the region is staggering.

The Wimmera is recovering from a 10-year drought that hit the region hard. While the rivers and the many lakes now have water, bank balances are taking a little longer to recover.

But the resilience of people is amazing. As an outsider who has moved to Horsham, I have been impressed by the friendly, down to earth and welcoming people who live here.

It’s often a lifestyle choice to move to Horsham. There aren’t any airports nearby with commercial airlines to easily transport us. And limited public transport makes it further difficult, so many of us know the highway to Melbourne all too well.

One advantage to moving to Horsham is affordable housing. The region provides many opportunities to breaking into the housing market.

The region’s natural attributes are also a strong attraction for many to visit and move here. Mt Arapiles, about 20 minutes from Horsham, is a rock-climbing mecca for people all over the world and the Grampians National Park is a popular tourist destination.

Being located more than 300 kilometres from Melbourne means it is not always an attractive option for people, especially skilled professionals, to move here, so many positions are filled by migrants.

In fact with Europe’s economic downturn, the region’s skilled migration officer has reported an increase in interest from your part of the world for people to move here.

Feel like its time for a change of scenery? We would welcome our Horsham cousins with open arms.