Creating a happy family life in rural Queensland
Making the move to a country town has a big impact on your family.
We’ve collated information from towns within our region to give you some insights into what family life might be like in the country towns in our training region.
I’ve been involved in a variety of local clubs; cycling, photography and astronomy. I was in the Junior Chamber of Commerce and with the Scout Association as a Venturer Scout leader. My wife has similarly participated in many of these things. We have sound friendships and relationships in the community. That’s made living here interesting and exciting, and rewarding.Dr Michael Rice, GPTQ Supervisor, Beaudesert GP and President of the Rural Doctors Association Queensland
Jobs for partners
Small towns need people to run them just the same as big ones do. But the range of jobs on offer can be limited. Across our region, the most popular job sectors are education, retail, agriculture, catering, clerical and administrative positions. Part-time work seems to be much easier to come by, which often suits those raising, or wanting to start, a family. Jobs in the professional domain are not as easy to find, although Chinchilla goes against the grain with professionals making up 12.2 percent of its workforce.
Toowoomba may be a good place to pursue a professional career. As the sixth largest city in Queensland, it offers a variety of professional positions. Another option is to live in a small town close to Toowoomba and commute to work. Small towns in our region close to the thriving hub of Toowoomba include Gatton, Drayton and Highfields.
Goondiwindi is a little different to the norm for our region because of its role as the regional administrative centre for the surrounding communities. Managerial level jobs, particularly for local government, are well represented.
Chinchilla has recently experienced a boom in energy and technical jobs.
Home-based businesses are booming Australia wide, assisted by the NBN roll out. If your partner has skills in a professional domain that could be provided remotely, they could consider starting their own business.
If your partner doesn’t have, or want, to work, there are many opportunities for them to get involved as a valued member of the community. Aside from the most important duty of all – raising a family – they can take up any number of volunteering opportunities. They can join:
- The local parents’ committee at kindergarten or school
- Local charities such as the Salvos, St Vincent de Paul, the Red Cross, Landcare and Meals on Wheels
- CWA (Country Women’s Association)
- Scouts or Guides groups as a leader
- Church groups
Voluntary work is important in country towns as services and staffing can be limited. If your partner is interested in this kind of work, Dalby is a great place to consider. More than 20 percent of the community are actively involved in some type of volunteer work. They place a high value on the contributions volunteers make. It’s a great way to meet new people too.
Our training region has a wide selection of schools. Almost all of our towns have at least one public primary and secondary school, with many having more options. Our most populous school districts are Kingaroy, Chinchilla, Dalby and Warwick. The tiny town of Allora has three kindergartens, two primary schools plus one public and two private high schools. And Warwick, located just 25 km away, has many more to choose from.
You can also consider distance education as an option for the students in your family. It offers a number of programs for all levels, including Years 11 and 12, to students living in rural areas with limited educational choice or for those who are home-schooled. This option offers a wider range of subject choice than some mainstream schools. The Queensland Government also offers financial support for rural school-aged children.
Options for university study in the country are more limited than the city. The University of Southern Queensland is in Toowoomba and is accessible from Drayton, Allora, Highfields, Oakey or Dalby. The Queensland Government has a ‘Queensland Academies Isolated Students Bursary‘ scheme in place. The bursary includes a travel allowance and student accommodation allowance to help students travel to university.
Most of our country towns have at least one, if not many more, childcare centres. Many of the towns in our training region have ‘younger than average’ median aged populations, with many people 30 to 34 years, a common age to have young children.
The type of child care on offer varies, but it is typically centre-based care. Some towns such as Warwick or Chinchilla have as many as seven childcare services to choose from. Kingaroy tops the list with fourteen childcare centres servicing their 9,500-strong population. Our smallest town, Blackbutt, has one centre acting as both a kinder and crèche.
While living in the community in which you work is the best way to quickly feel connected and ‘at home’, it’s normal to want easy access to and from your home town. Wellcamp airport is the only regional airport in our area and is located 25 km from Toowoomba. With over 70 flights each week to major Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Townsville, its a great resource for rural residents. The suburbs of Drayton, Highfields, Pittsworth and Dalby are all within 100 km of Wellcamp airport too. The rest of our towns have excellent rail and/or road links to the airport. Bus services are also fairly consistent.
Social activity in country towns is often community-based and can be an attractive feature of rural life.
Taking part in local clubs and groups is a great way to connect with other people. Some examples of social activities on offer across our towns include:
- Dramatic societies
- The Country Women’s Association
- Art and craft groups
- Volunteer groups
- Special interest clubs, such as photography, writing, hot rods and astronomy
- Dance lessons
- Music lessons
- Rotary club
- Sports clubs, such as touch football, netball and tennis
- Trivia nights
Country towns are well known for their commitment to annual show days, festivals and farmers’ markets.
Most of the towns in our training region have a thriving sporting scene. Dalby, for example, has more than 40 sporting clubs.
Housing prices and rental properties in Darling Downs and West Moreton district are well under the Brisbane city median average. In our training region, you can buy a good-sized home within town for between $200,000 and $300,000. Weekly rents range from $200 to $300 per week. Our doctors may be offered subsidies, including rent assistance, when they live in rural locations.
Toowoomba is reasonably priced too, considering it’s a city and the main urban centre of the Darling Downs. The median house price is $363,000, and the median weekly rent is $290.
There are some popular towns close to Toowoomba that are more expensive. Highfields prices are above average, with a median house price of $500,000 and weekly rent averaging just over $400. Pittsworth, 40 km from Toowoomba, is also fast increasing in value.