Ideas for a small town

File:Main street, Blyth.JPG

BLYTH is a small town of about 300 people, located about 13 kilometres west of Clare. During its history, the town has had its share of highs and lows. As with a number of smaller towns located near larger towns in South Australia, a housing revival beginning in 2006 kick-started another chapter of its history. But, as with many other smaller towns in the state (and nationally) it has also lost a number of essential services in the past 20 years or so, one of which was its hospital back in the 1990's. A new life for the hospital property began when an apprentice training centre and a native vegetation nursery were established. As of late January 2013 the training activity ceased operations and relocated to nearby Clare. The long-running nursery is also at risk of closure.

With the loss of these enterprises, a substantial property will then become idle. 

What can be done with the property?

I have assembled a number of ideas with the intention of stimulating discussion on what could happen at the property, which incidentally is substantial. Containing three main buildings, a relatively large area, sheds and other infrastructure, this property still has potential to be used for a very different suite of activities. 

Important introductory notes

The ideas presented below are starting points; they can be all be achieved, if they 

are seen to have merit and if there is the will. However, in the harsh reality of 

today’s world, it is to be expected that the “economics” has to stack up. Where 

mention is made of products in the list below, then of course markets have to be 

available. Just because a market for a product may not be available, or a process 

for value-adding is too expensive today, this should not mean that planning 

for future decades should not commence now. 

If some of these ideas appear to be duplicating what is already undertaken by other 

organisations, then it is best to think laterally and see what is not. Be different.

It is also important to note that South Australia has a very skewed population where 

1.23m people (2011 Census) reside in metropolitan Adelaide, out of a total 

population of 1.66m. 

Regional centres are relatively small and are few, and the result is that centralised 

(i.e. Adelaide) decision-making dominates policy settings in the state.  

That scenario is most likely to continue, but what needs to happen is that rural folk 

must take greater control of their destiny. 

A new life for “the property” is entirely in the hands of rural visionaries.

Some context

What is hurtling towards SA in the next few decades is very alarming and much of it 

has to do with declining rainfall, higher temperatures, and a changing climate. The 

former is complex, but in the regional context it is partly associated with native 

vegetation removal, the resulting increased evaporation, and the effect that the sun 

and heat has on exposed land surfaces. 

The results of science - this is what everyone apparently needs these days to justify 

change - indicate this.

The recently released document Prospering in a Changing Climate - A Climate 

Change Adaptation Framework for South Australia (August 2012) makes for some 

grim reading. 

Every South Australian should read and understand this document. Every high 

school student should study it. And every politician should ensure that the 

“Government Action Plan (GAP) for implementing the Climate Change Adaptation 

Framework” is made a top priority.

My concern is that the Adaptation Framework and the GAP will be implemented far 

too slowly, and perhaps not in their entirety, and therefore further imperil the future 

of rural SA and the overall state economy. The language of the framework illustrates 

this point.

The Adaptation Framework itself lacks commitment to landscape-scale change - for 

that is what is needed - and avoids the hard edge of decision-making that is required. 

In my investigations, it is apparent that the path of small steps is preferred to the 

quantum leaps that are needed and should be taken. Another concern that is clearly 

apparent is that the overall community, including local government, have a low 

understanding of the major environmental issues, including a changing climate, 

confronting the state. 

It is with this backdrop that I have assembled a number of ideas where “the 

property” could play a pivotal role in the future of rural communities not only in SA 

but elsewhere around Australia ... and perhaps internationally.

A suite of ideas 

A rural education and social research centre

"Future Farm" Research, Education, and Implementation Centre

Native vegetation nursery, seed bank, and carbon farming

Blyth 'Business Pollinators' hub

Online home business hub

Centre for Rural Heritage

On-site accommodation


In terms of "the property” itself, I acknowledge that the ideas presented would raise 

that obvious first question by the reader - “where’s the money going to come from 

to do (such and such)?” 

I contend that this is not the appropriate premise. 

What is needed is to start with a grand vision, pick those parts that are necessary 

and affordable at the time, and make them successful. Move on to the next project. 

Plan, implement, plan.

Momentum will build.

The ideas presented, and any others that people are prepared to offer, will need 

some intensive round-table discussion from dedicated people. 

Wouldn’t it be great if many more ideas were offered? 

And that has just given me another idea - use “the property” for an annual BIG 

Ideas Rural Summit! 

A live-in brain-dump for a weekend! A festival of ideas! (I’ve borrowed that term).

Leave your thoughts below.

The Next Idea … A Rural Education and Social Research Centre

 Terms Of Service & Conditions Of Use          Privacy Policy          Site Map          Contact

Copyright © D N Menz    2009 - 2017