IN a bid to reduce its population decline, the fiercely determined Richmond community is set to turn things around.
As a result of economic changes and the loss of some services in the small town, 520km west of Townsville, 81 residents have left since 2001, reducing the population to 827.
To combat this, residents passionate about their town, have initiated a solid plan to boost the waning numbers.
To get things rolling, Mayor John Wharton put $1 blocks of land up for ballot for anyone keen to move to Richmond, and depending on interest, will consider a second ballot.
Then this month the community launched a campaign with a marketing plan and website, Richmond Uncovered, to help draw people to this welcoming outback town.
Richmond Uncovered campaign coordinator Sara Hales said the new website outlined the myriad reasons why Richmond is a great place to live.
“It promotes employment and business opportunities, affordable living, the quality of lifestyle and unique opportunities for every family member,” Sara said.
“We’ve already had an extraordinary response to the website, with strong enquiries from a number of businesses and industries. Commerce Richmond and Richmond Uncovered are new kids on the block in terms of economic development and we’re keen to support Richmond. People are working tirelessly to ensure our town’s sustainability and prosperous future.”
Sara and her husband, Charlie, moved to Richmond in 2001 to work on a cattle station.
In 2004 after the birth of their first child, they moved into town, started their own business and bought a home.
“I grew up in Sydney and had always wondered why people lived in small towns. Turns out I am happier here than I have been anywhere,” she said.
“It’s the people, my involvement in the community and the idyllic childhood our kids are getting that have made me so happy.”
Suzanne Johnson grew up in Richmond. She left in her late teens for study, overseas travel and work and later moved to Townsville where she met her husband, Geoffrey, who also grew up in Richmond.
“After we had children, we decided we wanted them to grow up in a country town like we did. So last year we moved back. We love living here – the sense of community and belonging is amazing. Everyone looks out for one another, our kids are safe, everything is close and it’s stress free. A lot of people think it must be boring here, but there is always something going on. Richmond holds a lot of social events - festivals, field days, street parties, rodeo and campdraft, a fishing classic – it doesn’t stop.
“We can have livestock and chooks in our yards and grow our own vegetables. There’s nothing we can’t do out here.”
Nestled on the banks of the Flinders River, Richmond boasts a strong cattle industry, a world-renowned marine fossil museum and a proactive council.
In 2003, the national award winning Lake Fred Tritton opened on the edge of town, providing cool water for swimming, skiing, canoeing, sailing, fishing, jet skiing and a great place for picnicking and walking. And there’s golf, bowls, sporting clubs and pubs, schools, a hospital, parks and great health care. But it’s the sense of community and laid back, outback lifestyle that really stands out.