Newdegate Brenton See
I’ve lived in Newdegate three and a half years. We were living in Albany and my husband was working fly-in fly-out, so he was away four weeks at a time and only home for one. It started to be draining on us living that way, so he thought he would just apply for every job he saw on Gumtree. He did that and we got a call from Newdegate the next day saying “when can you start?” A few weeks later, we moved. I was in tears the day that we moved here. I was petrified. We came up to meet my husband’s employers, and I said “there is nothing here; there’s a shop and oh, it’s not even open!” I thought I was going to move here and be alone and sad. I thought ‘well, at least I’ll have my husband’ because I hadn’t had that in a year with Fly-in Fly-out. I thought there wouldn’t be an outlet to meet people and start friendships here but they don’t give you a choice. The community just surround you until you’re mingled in with everything that they do. We had two lots of people knock on our door with welcome hampers when we first got here, introducing themselves. When we showed up at school, everyone had been expecting us. They’d been talking about us for weeks. It was just magical. It made it so easy. I have four kids, so I am a full-time parent. I also volunteer around town. I’m on the P&C and the Skate Park Committee and the Field Day Committee. It’s spectacular how the Field Day comes together every year. The whole town pitches in. I’m a part of it now and I still don’t know how it gets done. It’s so big. We get thousands of people coming in to this community of about a hundred and fifty people. The Field Day is about giving back to your community, because it does bring so much for us. Everything that the Field Day makes goes back into the community anyway, so putting your name down on a couple of rosters and doing a couple of shifts in the kitchen is nothing compared to what we get back. We’ve got a new skate park in town now. There were three of us from the community making that happen over the last year or two. At the start people were worried about wasting money on building something that would benefit around forty kids in our town. But since it opened we’ve had tourists stop in, whether they’ve got children or not, and use the space. The town has been so uplifted by that, and by the silo mural. Newdegate getting the mural on our silos was like magic; the town just lifted. Everyone surrounded it and supported it and it just raised the energy. I’ve never planted my feet before. I always get itchy feet. A couple of years anywhere and I’m feeling like it’s time to move. But here we’re three and a half to four years in now, and we’ve found home. What really keeps us here is the community. Just knowing that someone’s got your back regardless of what’s going on. If you need help it’s there, whether you ask for it or not. Someone will pick up on the fact that you’re not quite right and they’ll pick you back up. If you’re not getting back to school in time, you have only got to make a quick phone call and someone will pick up your kids for you. We’ve bragged about the community so much that my parents moved here from Albany. We bought a house just up the road and renovated it. When it was done they said ‘can we move?’ and I said ‘go for it!’ They’ve been here six months now. I’m hoping that I can continue to help give the town things: keep people happy and keep families here. We’re at such a risk of families moving away for better services and education for their kids. It’s probably the only struggle we really have here. Healthwise, with a family of six, something’s always going wrong. But Telehealth is finally starting to fill in the gaps. You can see specialists through videoconferencing, which is good, but people do move away for access to services and education. I think the town will die if we can’t keep families living here. Families are what keep it going. I fought to get a school bus, because I didn’t want to send my daughter away to boarding school. She was eleven, and was going to have to start boarding school because in Newdegate, Year Six is the last year of primary school now. I just thought “I can’t.” I couldn’t send her away. I decided either we’d all go, or I would home school, or she would go to Lake Grace. But the drive to Lake Grace is a hundred kilometres there and back, and then there and back again at home time. So I fought for a bus a couple of years ago that would drive her from Newdegate to Lake Grace, and now we’ve got four kids from the town taking the school bus every day. Now we’ve got the school bus and the silo mural and the skate park, we just need somewhere that’s a meeting place for the community. We’ve got to make the most of having these assets, and the tourism we hope will come with that. I think having a meeting place is an important outlet in towns like ours, because once your children have left that playgroup age, you need an avenue to keep in contact with your community. To connect. A neutral space to meet up. For our mental health, we really need to be socialising and getting together. I think if we can create that space where we can meet and enjoy a coffee, have some food and talk about our problems, we can conquer the world for the rest of the day.