Trundle treechange

Bryan Seymour
Today Tonight


The tiny community of Trundle is the latest country town to join the stampede to attract new residents. What's more, the families who take on a $1 farmhouse will be followed by cameras for a year to see how their "treechange" life works out.

Cherie Quade, the organiser of the Trundle Treechange scheme, said she was overwhelmed with the response to the scheme.

"We're just amazed, we just can't believe the response," she said.

Farmer Ben Kerin turns 36 today but he's giving away the present - a farmhouse to rent for just one dollar a week, guaranteed for three years. The three bedroom, one bathroom home is in good condition and ready for its new residents.

"Yeah, power is just a matter of switching on the power, that's right to go - turn the water pump on and give it a bit of a mow out the front," Kerin said.

Trundle is about six hours drive west of Sydney, not far past the country city of Parkes, which was immortalised on film as the home of The Dish.

Over the last few decades technology and the drought have combined to drive more and more people out of Trundle, which has been clinging to life with a population of just 600.

Cherie Quade said the push to repopulate and revitalise her beloved town was prompted by the need to save their two schools.

"Even this year with the conditions change, we've seen families moving back and we're really excited about that because we think that's what's going to entice people to come and live here as well," she said.

"Look there's no doubt about it it's a huge step and a huge risk to take, we acknowledge that."

"But I think the dollar-a-week farmhouse scheme is so enticing for people who are caught up in mortgages and caught up in debt and looking for a treechange and amazingly the timing of this scheme has just been quite wonderful."

"The idea is the council comes out, does an inspection and just gives everything the okay to be lived in."

The first $1 farmhouses popped up nearly three years ago in the Tasmanian town of Levendale. It saved the school. The idea quickly spread to the tiny town of Cumnock in 2008.

The scheme has since blossomed in the Victorian town of Wycheproof and seems certain to throw a lifeline to dozens more.

Like so many small country towns, Trundle is desperate to save itself aling with its iconic pub, golf club, two schools and childcare centre.

Trundle is also home to the widest street in the southern hemisphere; perfect for a town party to welcome all the city survivors.

"We've got hospitals, schools, swimming pools, sports grounds, all the things that people need," one local at the Trundle Pub, run by Danielle Ward said.

Employment is a major concern for anyone thinking of moving to Trundle.

"Mum and dad are going to work in town, there are lots of business opportunities here in Trundle and with the influx of people we are hoping that'll be sustained," Cherie Quade said. "With the great season that we've just had on the farms we're hoping people will employ farmhands as they did several years ago before conditions turned a bit foul on the farms."

"We've got a wonderful mine really close by that's providing lots of employment already for Trundle people."

If you do decide on a Trundle Treechange you'll likely make your television debut courtesy of Andrew Denton. The television star has won over the locals and his team will film the new families for a year.

So if you're keen and you're sick of the city and looking for somewhere you'll never get mugged, or stuck in a traffic jam, then maybe it's time you considered taking a Trundle.

Cherie tells us they hope to have their new townsfolk moving in around the start of February 2011.


Links

Register for a home in Trundle for $1 rent per week - or donate goods/money to the town at www.Trundletreechange.com.au

The Trundle Hotel
www.Trundlehotel.com.au

Parkes City Information
www.parkes.nsw.gov.au/about/1009/1028.html

Rent a Farmhouse Scheme
www.rentafarmhouse.com.au