Voice of Real Australia: Is regional Australia bursting at the seams?

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Maitland-based digital journalist Betina Hughes.

Have you ever experienced that uncomfortable feeling when your favourite jeans are just a little too tight to zip up?

You could say Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley is experiencing a 'bursting at the seams' sensation as a community.

Since it's not in Maitland's interest or spirit to turn anyone away, the answer must be in improving our infrastructure.

I am one of those shiny new Maitlanders who moved here from nearby.

What's not to love? Outside of the charms of this historic town on the banks of the Hunter River, you have Sydney in the south, the world-famous vineyards of the Hunter Valley in the west and the beaches of Newcastle in the east.

One of Maitland's great selling points is its many fun festivals, including Aroma Coffee and Chocolate Festival which returns in August.

One of Maitland's great selling points is its many fun festivals, including Aroma Coffee and Chocolate Festival which returns in August.

It seems every other week journalists at The Maitland Mercury document another council approval for hundreds of residential lots.

But while exciting, rapid growth isn't without its hurdles.

If you leave at the wrong time in the morning, you'll double your trip to work.

Public transport isn't really an option either. Considering price alone, it is more expensive to commute by train than drive 10 minutes.

On top of this, school buses are arriving at stops already full, schools are crowded and then there's the water situation.

Perhaps the most alarming revelation in recent weeks was that Maitland's growing population was struggling to find room for its waste.

A bit of a, uh, rubbish problem.

Of course, all over the country there are cities and towns and regions like Maitland where infrastructure is struggling to keep up with demand.

The recent National Visitor Survey highlighted the importance of tourism for the Albury region.

Speaking to The Border Mail, NSW Business Chamber regional manager Andrew Cottrill said the results showed "why it is so important" to reboot the Restart funding program and ensure regional NSW received its promised infrastructure investment.

Before we get too carried away though, it's not all doom and gloom.

In Harden, NSW, works are underway for the Murrumburrah Harden Health Services, which was deemed a "much needed facility" at the sod turning, and residents in Bunbury, Western Australia, are eagerly awaiting their new hospital after the premier announced an extra $11.8 million for the facility.

The NSW Business Chambers is calling on the state government to 'get on' with promised infrastructure spending while others, like Port Stephens small business owner is encouraging the community to work together.

Surges in population aren't confined to Australia's regional towns.

So, where to from here?

Despite the occasional frustration, it's heartening to see our communities thriving and expanding across the country.

It seems our challenge in coming years is to work together and grow in a way that ensures everyone who wants to live in regional Australia can enjoy all it has to offer.

Betina Hughes, digital journalist

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