Walgett Shire is situated in the far north west of New South Wales. The Shire consists of several larger towns and villages and a large rural population.

Walgett is located on the land of the Gamilaroi nation and Castlereagh Highway signs have recently had Kamilaroi Highway signs attached to acknowledge the long connection Aboriginal people have had with the land.

The administrative centre of the Shire is Walgett township, located on the Castlereagh Highway some 275 kilometres north of Dubbo. Walgett is situated near the junction of the Namoi and Barwon Rivers.

• Natural Strengths • Human Resources
• Infrastructure • Communications
• Industry Today • Lifestyle
• Doing Business • Land Availability

Natural StrengthsThe Shire is on the productive black soil plains of New South Wales and traditional rural pursuits have been farming and grazing, although cotton production is increasing each year.

There are some 882 rural properties in the Walgett Shire that usually contribute approximately $2,139,945 in general rate revenue, i.e. 73.62% of the total general rate. The river systems that affect the Shire are relatively dependable although in times of extreme drought restrictions have to be imposed.

Rural properties that have water licences are desirable. People living in some camps around Lightning Ridge have to buy and cart water. For people who enjoy a less restrictive lifestyle, Lightning Ridge, known as the Home of the Black Opal, is home to people from approximately fifty-eight nationalities who work and socialise harmoniously.

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Human Resources
There is a high rate of unemployment throughout the Shire for many reasons. The casual labour market has not only been affected by changing technology now in place on most rural properties, but it has been affected by the recent state of the rural economy.

Other major sectors for employment are mining in Lightning Ridge, community services, retail, financial and business services, public administration and communications. Both professional staff and tradespeople who enjoy a rural lifestyle will find employment opportunities throughout the services in the Shire.

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Walgett is located on the Castlereagh Highway on the north south route connecting Sydney and Brisbane. With the completed sealing of the Bourke/Brewarrina/Walgett road, opportunities to link with Adelaide have been made less dependent on the vagaries of the weather.

A daily XPT service is provided from Sydney to Dubbo, from where passengers are transported by a road coach that travels daily to Lightning Ridge. A wide range of transport companies serve the township of Walgett with freight being forwarded by local contractors.

The biggest above ground grain silos in the southern hemisphere are situated approximately 3 kms out of Walgett. The 1998 harvest saw 198,530 tonnes of grain being received at the site from which it is transported primarily by train.

Harvest time brings an influx of contract harvesters into the Shire who also contribute to the economy of the town.

Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Collarenebri have airstrips provided by Walgett Shire Council and regulated by CASAA. In times of emergencies, the strips at Walgett and Lightning Ridge are of suitable standard for large fixed wing aircraft to land.

Burren Junction has an Authorised Landing Area. Air Link provides a daily service from Dubbo to Coonamble, Walgett and Lightning Ridge and return. Passengers change in Dubbo to Hazleton, Qantas or Air Link flights to continue their journeys elsewhere.

Charter flights are available and private aircraft make good use of the available facilities.

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Even though many people are endeavouring to modernise their communication systems, the physical communication system does not always permit this to happen.

The Shire has two digital cells; one in Walgett and the other in Lightning Ridge. In a large proportion of the Shire, mobile phones do not work. Mail arrives and leaves daily as do transport services. A range of radio and television stations broadcast to the area and PAY TV is available.

The Shire is well served with local weekly newspapers and daily metropolitan and regional newspapers are readily available.

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Industry today

Agricultural industries produce wheat, wool, cotton and sheep meat. Some farmers and graziers are looking to diversify and value-add to their produce. All towns and villages are connected by bitumen roads, allowing for easy transport of produce to major centres.

The requirements of the farming and grazing sector provide business for several machinery suppliers and steel fabrication works.

Opal mining at Lightning Ridge also provides the opportunity for associated small machinery, welding and fabrication enterprises to flourish. Land prices and rates are low compared with the more urbanised areas of the state and unskilled labour is plentiful.

is scope for support industries to expand into the Shire although skilled tradesmen are scarce. The retail sector of Lightning Ridge relies on opal based tourism.

All towns and villages in the Shire have at least one grocery shop or supermarket to supply the needs of the community. Retailers appreciate the business gained from tourists in the Shire and many entrepreneurial opportunities exist.

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Walgett Shire offers a friendly relaxed lifestyle and there are many sporting and recreational pursuits available. Rotary, Soroptomist International and Lightning Ridge Arts & Craft Society are some of the service clubs of the Shire. Many people take advantage of the proximity of the Narran Lakes to watch the abundant birdlife.

Education throughout the Shire is provided by one secondary school, two central schools, seven primary/infants schools, seven preschools and one children’s mobile. Both Walgett High School and Public School have Distance Education Units to assist with education for rural and isolated families.

Post secondary education is offered by the Western Institute of TAFE, Walgett campus. Family Day Care has recently started. The service is based in Walgett and operates throughout the Shire. Walgett District Hospital has a modern 20 acute bed hospital, an eight bed geriatric unit and three high dependency beds.

The hospital has general medical, surgical, paediatrics, emergency obstetrics, palliative care and aged care. Health services in Lightning Ridge and Collarenebri have recently been approved to become Multi Purpose Services.

Health staff are supported by a range of health professionals from Government and Non-government services.

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Doing Business:
Business assistance is provided by an accountant, solicitors, Rural Financial Counsellor and Job Network. These services, although based in Walgett, provide outreach services to the other towns and villages in the Shire.

Banking services are available at either self-maintained facilities or at in-store facilities. Most banks are able to assist with credit union services. The usual government services are present in Walgett and service the Shire. Government Departments include the Department of Land and Water Conservation, NSW Agriculture, Department of Community Services, Walgett District Health Service, TAFE and Centrelink.

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Land Availability
An industrial area is available in the townships of Walgett and Lightning Ridge. Commercial and residential land is also able to be acquired at a reasonable cost. Broad acres come onto the market occasionally and those properties with irrigation licences are keenly sought.

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Name:Walgett Shire
Size of Shire:22,000 sq km+
Towns and Villages:
Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Collarenebri, Carinda, Burren Junction, Rowena, Grawin, Cumborah
Mean maximum temperature: 27.2°C
Mean minimum temperature:12.7°C
Mean yearly rainfall: 511mm
Elevation: 133 metres (Walgett)
Main Industry: Agriculture - cereal crops, wool/sheep, Opal mining and services industries, Tourism
Industry: No. Employed
1 Agriculture, forestry, fishing 850
2 Retail trade 309
3 Mining 235
4 Government administration and defence 145
5 Education 233
6 Accommodation, cafe and restaurants 217
7 Health and community services 266
8 Transport and storage 80
9 Construction 90
10 Property and business services 70
Labour Force:
Total employed 3047
Total labour force 3725
Not in labour force 2463
Labour Force Participation rate: 60.2%
Employment by occupation (%)
Managers and Administrators 17.6
Labourers and related 14.1
Tradespersons and related 17.6
Labourers and related 14.1
Tradespersons and related 11.1
Advanced clerical, sales and services 10.0
Elementary clerical sales and services 5.7
Intermediate clerical sales and services 10.0
Professionals 10.1
Intermediate production and transport 14.8
Associate professionals 9.7
Employment by Industry Sector
Private Sector 2277
State Government 408
Local Government 101
Commonwealth Government 68