Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Collinsville - a town in decline?

The story so far at Collinsville is just a bit depressing, probably more so than other non-coastal towns in regional Australia. Walking around the streets the number of houses for sale, or just abandoned and over grown, seems more than reasonable.

A 28 room motel and the pub across the main street are for sale and possible site redevelopment and both aren't currently trading. Not encouraging for potential buyers.

So the last time I was in town, about two years ago, the price of coal was around $100/ton. Today it's more like $50/ton, and I'm told there has been retrenchment of 80 workers recently and those families have had to move away to find work elsewhere.

The local real estate agent is being proactive, trying to excite the market, by having a "mega-auction"; 11 properties all at once. A resident I spoke to told me her house was worth about $250k a few years ago and today her agent says "realistically expect about $60k". Even if she wanted to she can't move away, the loss too great. But she thinks she is lucky, she has a non mining related job.

It's another sign the town is hurting when the council looks to tourism to help the main street traders stay in business; it's free for self-contained RVs to stay at the show grounds.

Coal has always been boom and bust but I have a feeling we won't see another boom. It's doubtful it will ever come back again, in this climate.

So the kids finishing school have to move away to find work. Their parents stay while they have a job. No new families come to town. Bit by bit the population gets older. The schools close, more jobs go. Shops and traders servicing younger people close. The town can less and less afford public services. More lost jobs. More people move away. Finally the older residents have to move away to be closer to health and aged services and of course the kids.

Last one to go, please turn out the lights.

Signs of a previous mining bust.

Signs of the current one.

From 100% occupancy to zero, bit by bit. 

Best of luck with that!