Rural communities of Australia have experienced a significant change in the last 50 years. This is mainly because of the change in land use. This has resulted in a large number of social economic and environmental implications for the different communities. The social impact has been the way in which individuals live there personal lives, this has developed dramatically over time. The economic changes have been mainly the communities going through periods of growth and decline. These communities have also changed environmentally with drought and also climate change influencing these communities and forcing them to live in ways that had not done before.
However, rural towns have most severely been impacted by the influence Sydney has had on them. This report explores the impact that the inner Sydney region has had on the nature of rural communities.
An urban transect across Sydney
As you leave Sydney and the Central Business District (CBD) and head towards the Sydney urban fringe land use changes dramatically. As you make this journey it is obvious how there is a slow change from mainly commercial buildings, to industrial factories and residential areas and then finally to rural housing and farmland. This can be obviously seen from figure 2 which is an urban transect from Sydney to Moss Vale.
Figure 2. Urban Transect from Sydney to Moss Vale.
There are 3 main areas where a large change can be seen in the urban transect. These are changes in building types, Transport infrastructure and a change in open space or density.
Change in Building Types
Using Figure 2 it is obvious that as you travel away from Sydney the height and size of the buildings slowly diminishes. In the CBD there are large commercial and residential buildings (such as Figure 3), because it is the largest area in Sydney. As you move to the outer areas of Sydney a dramatic change is already obvious with areas such as Mascot showing huge changes in building size. With an increased number of small residential buildings and the presence of industrial buildings, there is a huge change compared to the CBD. As you travel further from Sydney the building size continues to shrink, with greater amounts of rural communities and industrial buildings until you finally come to farmland.
Figure 3. High rise building in the CBD
Change in Transport Infrastructure
The second area of changes the transport infrastructure dramatically changes the further you travel out of Sydney. In the CBD there are thousands of taxis, busses and a large number of train stations. However the further you travel from Sydney the less of these there are. In areas such as Mascot there are very few taxis and busses with a few train stations. However by the time you reach Moss Vale there are no taxis, very few busses and only industrial train stations. This means that in rural areas there is a greater reliance on cars and also walking.
Change in amount of Open Space
The last area of change is in the amount of open space and the density level. Usually, as the amount of open space increases the density level drops (seen in figure 2). In the CBD Buildings are packed in very tightly, with very little open space. In Moss Vale, however, there is a great deal more open space, making it a very low density area.
An urban study of Berrima
This section of the report will explore a short history and will attempt to account for its continuing success as a settlement while other small towns are struggling to survive.
The function of Berrima has differed over time. Referring back to Figure 1, the base map, the fact that it is relatively close to Sydney has affected the growth of this area. In addition to this, roads and similar infrastructure has had an immense impact on this town. However, at the present, this place is in prosperity, while other, similar, small towns have struggled.
Location: 118km south of Sydney
Southern Highlands in general
The southern highland of which Berrima is a part was one of the earliest areas to undergo official exploration. From 1791 convicts escaped the penal settlement in Sydney and headed south, believing that they could get to china easily. Most came back starving or died on route. Governor Philip decided that to stop this flow of convicts an official exploration expedition should be made. The expedition made it to the Wingecarribee River (on which Berrima is located). They gave glowing reports of fertile soil, good grazing land and magnificent stands of trees. However it was another 16 years before interest was taken in settling the area and seven land grants were given in the area to free settlers. The great south road was put through, giving access to the area which was quickly settles. Land was cleared by hand and it took quite a time before houses could be built.
Berrima Begins – the great south road
In 1836a new south road was built that by passed the steep gradient of the Mittagong range and the Bong Bong swamp. The surveyor general
Thomas Mitchell selected a site for the major town of the country on the new route – the site of Berrima. The site was surveyed and designed with a grid pattern of roads and a market place in the centre of town. It was envisaged that the town would become the administrative, commercial and manufacturing centre of the country. Development on the town was slow because it was on the edge of the settled areas and the new road took till 1836 to be built. Also built by 1834 were several licensed inns – used by travellers on the road for accommodation. Once the road was finished Berrima grew quite quickly – by 1841 it had a population of 250. In 1842 berrima was a stop on an extremely busy road and there were 13 ins in the town centre.
A period of decline – by passed by the railway
In1867 the southern railway line was built and by passed Berrima. Berrima entered a period of decline and by 1914 the population was down to 80. Many of the houses fell into disrepair or were pulled down.
1920’s – a period of growth
When the Southern Portland Cement Company set up outside of Berrima in the 1920’s the town experienced a period of growth. Also with the increasing use of the car and the location of the town on the road to Canberra some of the services were increased. Otherwise the town remained a small centre used by travellers until the 1970’s.
Growth Period 1970 – 1990
With better roads and use of the car in the 70’s Berrima became a popular tourist area within a few hours of Sydney. The fact that many of its buildings were retained from the 1830’s gave it tourist appeal. Most of the buildings since then have been restored, although in most cases they have not been used for their original purposes. The Gaol is still used and can be seen in figure 4. In WWII it was used as a German internment camp and now it is used for low security prisoners. For the 70’s and 80’s Berrima enjoyed great popularity as a stop over point for motorists and tourists as it was on the busy Hume Highway. Its population also grew with many weekenders and residents who could now commute to other towns easily from Berrima. The service services provided in Berrima changed to reflect the new types of visitors and the towns attraction as an historic site – antique shops, arts and crafts, cafes and inns.
Figure 4. Berrima low security Gaol
Another by pass – with positive results
In the late 80’s the new Hume Highway bypassed the town – however, this in fact has only added to the popularity of Berrima as a stop over place and as a residential area for many people
The Cattle Sale Yards
This section of the report will explore cattle sale yards in the Southern Highlands (Specifically the Moss Vale Saleyard) and the impacts they have on communities in terms of money and jobs. It will also explore how sale yards have had to change to survive in terms of location of other sale yards and overseas markets.
Figure 5. Sale Yard Setup
The sale yards are set up like Figure 5. Inside the bidding pavilion there is a massive set of scales in the middle surrounded by a fence. This provides a pen where the cows that are being sold can be shown off and weighed. Above this is the auctioneer’s platform from which he or she takes bids (both of these things can be seen in Figure 6.). Opposite the auctioneers table is the buyers table where the people who are most likely to bid are seated, but they are not the only ones bidding, behind them spectators can watch the bidding and sometimes, make their own bids (areas of seating seen in Figure 7.)
Figure 6. Auctioneers table
and cattle weighing pen.
Figure 7. Bidders table and
Impacts on local communities
In the Southern Highlands or more precisely in Moss Vale, sale yards have had huge impact on local communities. Sale yards have affected local communities in terms of money, buy allowing cattle producers to sell their stock. Local communities have also benefitted from the new jobs that have been provided by the sale yards this has meant there is less unemployment around the areas of saleyards. This means that sale yards have had a beneficial impact on local communities.
Change to survive
Sale yards in the Southern Highlands have had to adapt in order to survive. In terms of location of other sale yards, they have had to make sure they are the only ones within a certain area so there is no competition for producers. The sale yards have to advertise to overseas markets so they can get more representatives wanting to buy the cows, and then in turn have more producers bringing their cows to that specific sale yard. If the sale yards did not do this they would loose their producers, and most likely go bankrupt.
The Dairy Farm and Catchment
This section of the report will attempt to describe how the nearness of Sydney and environmental concerns have affected the dairy farm industry in the Southern Highlands area. In particular it will address how Noel Snowden’s farm has responded to the challengers presented by the greater Sydney area, especially: water catchment and land prices
Firstly Noel’s Dairy farm in general
The owner of the dairy farmer is Noel Snowden. The Dairy owned by Noel Snowden is located just outside Berrima. The size of the property is 365 acres (145 hectares). The entrance to his property can be seen in Figure 8.
Figure 8. Noel Snowden’s Farm Entrance
The Snowden’s started their dairy Farm in 1949. Noel’s father started of with 365 acres. After Noels father died, Noel took over the dairy farm business in the 1980’s.
Noel has 120 to 140 cows milked twice a day on his dairy farm. He has around 330 cattle on his dairy farm. 180 of those cattle are dry cattle. He uses a piece of machinery called a rotary dairy which can be seen in Figure 9. Meaning they have never had a calf. Each cow produces 26 litres of milk a day on average. Noel Snowden’s cows produce over 1 million litres of milk a year.
Figure 9. Noel Snowden’s Rotary Dairy
The length of milking can take up to 2 hours per session. 2 to 3 people milk the cows. Noel starts milking at about 6:15a.m. During the spring the Cows produce more milk than during the winter. The milk is then picked up and transported to Sydney at 6:00am.
The cows are tested for antibiotics. The cows are also tested for bacteria, dirt, butterfat and protein content. The more protein in the milk the more money Noel makes.
Affect on Southern Highlands Dairy Farms
The nearness of Sydney has had a mainly positive affect on the Dairy farms of the Southern Highlands (this can be seen in Figure 1.). This is mainly due to the fact, that it is now easy to transport the milk to a place in Sydney. However as Sydney stretches further and further outwards, land that was previously used for dairies is now becoming housing. This is because the land is worth a lot more and there is a great deal of pressure on farmers to sell. It is becoming increasingly costly for farmers to continue a dairy farm because of environmental concerns. Dairy farms produce a lot of waste and it is therefore crucial that this does not negatively impact on the environment so it is closely monitored. Many farmers have left the business because they are not able to pay for the removal of such large quantities of waste
Response to Challenges
Noel Snowden’s farm has responded to the challenge of maintaining the Sydney Water Catchment, by coming up with a very clever, very innovative idea, called the wetlands scheme. This scheme is clearly outlined below in Figure 10. Noel uses this system to prevent any excretion from entering the catchment area. There is a growing demand for the land that Noel and many other farmers own, as Sydney stretches outwards. There is a large amount of pressure put on farmers to sell, so people can have hobby farms (farms used mainly for fun such as vineyards). Noel has completely ignored this so called pressure; he has started leasing land off other people as well, so he can increase his production
Figure 10. Noel Snowmen’s Wetlands Scheme