Sleepy Mid North town is back on the map

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By Melissa Keogh

It suffered a population drain of more than 50% in just five years, but according to the latest Census data the small Mid North town of Brinkworth is back on track.

In 2006 the quintessential country town was home to 401 people, but by 2011 the population had plummeted to just 188.

But 2016 Australian Census data shows that the number of townspeople has crept up to 285.

Community spirit is at the heart of Brinkworth.

Community spirit is at the heart of Brinkworth.

Brinkworth Progress Association chairperson Norma Hardy attributes the lift to a generational change and two local businesses which have expanded.

“We started to fall off the map for a while,” she says.

“But it’s starting to go back to what it used to be because of the work that has been done around town and the businesses that are employing people.”

While Brinkworth is traditionally known as a service centre for grain growers and prime lamb producers, a local transport company and recycling centre have “become big things for us”.

Norma says family business Mills Freightlines and the Clare Valley Recycling Depot are popular sources of employment.

Mills Freightlines is an important source of employment.

Mills Freightlines is an important source of employment.

The progress association can also take the credit for the town’s aesthetic boost as the group of community members have delivered a range of beautification projects recently.

The Travellers’ Overnight Stay area at Stockyard Reserve off East Terrace is complete with powered sites, toilets, showers, an undercover barbecue area, playground, seating and gardens.

A playground, walking trail and gardens have also been installed while engraved pavers are currently being laid at the reserve in time for Brinkworth’s 125th anniversary in November.

The pavers are engraved with the names of past and present local individuals and families.

Locals Leo Krieg and Norma Hardy lay the honourary pavers.

Locals Leo Krieg and Norma Hardy lay the honourary pavers.

The association also developed the Pepper Tree walking trail which is wheelchair and cycling friendly, and winds its way along the disused railway line.

The group – which has about 10 members – is working with the Brinkworth History Group on a revised version of the town’s history book.

“It can be a little bit of a blink and miss it town unless you look around there’s really a lot to offer,” Norma says.

“It’s quite a little community but an active one.”

The Brinkworth Memorial Hall Committee has also contributed to the town’s uplift by revitalising the main street hall in the past 18 months.

At one stage the committee was struggling to get volunteers and was running at a deficit, but has since engaged with the town’s youth to open a community room and gymnasium in the hall.

Movie nights, art exhibitions and community dances raised funds and in April 2017 the gym was officially opened.

The Brinkworth Memorial Hall has been revived to attract youth and its new gym allows locals to stay active.

The Brinkworth Memorial Hall has been revived to attract youth and its new gym allows locals to stay active.

Named after one of the town’s earliest landholders, Brinkworth lies 31km from Clare and about 140km from Adelaide.

Its main street is lined with typical small country town essentials – a post office, corner café, grain silos and the local police office in a stone cottage.

Norma was the woman behind the counter at the Brinkworth general store for about 10 years.

“I love where I live and being in the shop I got to know most of the people and watched them grow up into adults who are now almost ready to have children of their own,” she says.

“It’s a comfortable community and if anything goes wrong we stick together.”

The Brinkworth Progress Association is currently planning for the second ever Brinkworth Country Fair in 2018.

An aerial view of Brinkworth in 1938. Source: State Library of SA.

An aerial view of Brinkworth in 1938. Source: State Library of SA.

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