Time to bid Shepp farewell

December 09, 2017

LEAVING TOWN: The views over Kialla Lakes in the morning are some of the highlights of Shepp life.

And now it is time for me to walk out of the Shepparton News office for the last time.

Journalism is a fast-changing business with people coming and going all the time.

The Shepp News is no exception and, since I started here 18 months ago, I have seen plenty of people come and go.

When I first got the job at The News, my entire knowledge of Shepparton consisted of SPC and Briggs.

But I wanted to try something new and when I first drove into town from Queensland last year I liked what I saw.

Unlike regional Queensland it felt cosmopolitan, multicultural and exciting, but it was laid-back like the best of regional Australia.

If you were going out for a meal you could have your choice between Thai, Southern American, Albanian and everything in between, while having the beauty of the country right at your doorstep.

And unlike many other places in regional Australia, you felt welcome.

Shepparton, as I found out, was a place for new beginnings.

For decades people have come to town to start a new life and the town has welcomed them with open arms.

The varied migrant community gives the town an excitement and vibrancy which is unmatched across regional Australia, and it is something people should be proud of.

In other towns across regional Australia people are more reserved and closed off, especially to newcomers, but Shepparton makes everyone feel like they belong if they have been in town for two weeks or 40 years.

As for me? I am off in the old rustbucket of a car I originally came down in last year, back to Queensland.

I got offered a job at a major newspaper in Brisbane and I felt I could not say no.

I never intended to move back to Queensland, but journalism is an unpredictable business.

Which is probably why journalism suits some people more than others.

Since I was 19 I have never lived in the same place for more than one or two years.

There has always been something pulling at me just as I get settled somewhere to pick up my bags and move on to a new place.

And over the years I have called Perth, Gold Coast, Kingaroy, Brisbane, Melbourne and Britain home, but only ever for a little while.

Every time I move I think to myself ‘‘perhaps this will be the place that I decide to stay in’’ but inevitably the hunger for a new adventure lures me to somewhere else.

As well as the positives, there are inevitable downsides. I’ve never purchased expensive furniture because I know that I might have to get rid of it in a few months.

And the close friends I’ve met over the years are usually a long way from where I am.

Moving house is probably the most annoying things anyone can put themselves through. And driving into a strange town with little money and no friends can test you at times.

I will make my way to Queensland next week, on what I plan to be a slow drive along the ocean to appreciate the rather wonderful country we live in.

As I pack and organise things like trying to find an apartment and redirecting my mail, I think ‘this is where I am staying, I’m not moving again after this’.

But I have said that to myself many times before already.

Barclay White is a News journalist.

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