REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Finding diamonds in the rough days

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Chan and Jamie Uoy, formerly of Melbourne, opened up the Dimboola Imaginarium in a building that was one a bank last year. It features curiosities such as a German medical skeleton, seen hanging from the ceiling in this photo.

Chan and Jamie Uoy, formerly of Melbourne, opened up the Dimboola Imaginarium in a building that was one a bank last year. It features curiosities such as a German medical skeleton, seen hanging from the ceiling in this photo.

Causes for hope are very much like diamonds in regional Victoria at the moment: Rare and precious.

Since August 5 we have been back in stage three lockdown, with all the limited movement and social interaction that entails.

Even though life is not as restricted as in Melbourne, where people can not go further than five kilometres from their front door; even if you still have your job; even if you and your family are safe and healthy, it's still easy to feel glum.

It's also easy to look with envy to other states where the sports oval, the classroom, the office, the stage, the cafe, the beauty salon and the pub aren't off limits.

Perhaps the so-called "second wave" is harder because this time we feel alone in suffering it.

The renewed and necessary loss of freedom has put to rest the misconception that one period of lockdown would be the first and last serious hardship we would face this entire pandemic, a misconception that seems to continue in Australia's other states.

Tim Skyrme, a retired shoemaker who now builds cigar box guitars, moved to Dimboola four years ago, bewitched by the river flowing through the town.

Tim Skyrme, a retired shoemaker who now builds cigar box guitars, moved to Dimboola four years ago, bewitched by the river flowing through the town.

The lessons other states can learn from Victoria are not how to avoid a second wave, but what to expect when it comes.

As the CSIRO's director of health and biosecurity, a Wimmera local, has noted, Australia is in for an inescapable, protracted period of health stress.

But I digress. There are causes for hope right now in regional Victoria.

Specifically, hope that challenges that existed before the pandemic can be solved during or after it.

One such issue is attracting people to live in the Wimmera, western Victoria's wheatbelt four hours from Melbourne.

It is home to one small city, Horsham, which is slowly growing, and small towns that are shrinking.

But the new hope is now that people have seen how much they can work from home, they won't mind moving their lives out of the city.

Dimboola, the Wimmera's fourth-largest town, has been undergoing a transformation that began before the pandemic that has continued uninterrupted during it. This has been fueled by new arrivals from interstate, intrastate and within the region.

Mel Obst, who grew up in Dimboola but now lives 40 minutes south in Natimuk, has opened an art shop in the town this year.

Mel Obst, who grew up in Dimboola but now lives 40 minutes south in Natimuk, has opened an art shop in the town this year.

Elsewhere, a Grampians organisation has found it easier to hire staff by embracing working from home, and real estate agents are reporting undeterred and even increased interest from property buyers from outside the region.

Of course, the deal for potential treechangers will be sweetened if there is sufficient infrastructure.

If this hope is to become something more, then like diamonds, it will take time and pressure to materialise.

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