New faces in Tyalgum
By LUIS FELIU
ON the surface, the sleepy little village of Tyalgum west of Murwillumbah hasn't changed all that much in recent years.
But new settlers in and around the rural township are starting to give the area a slightly different face.
The alternative-lifestylers wave that hit the area 20-odd years ago appears to have made way for cashed-up semiretired professionals from the city, attracted by not just the scenic beauty but the relatively lower property prices in the village and surrounds compared to coastal areas.
The demise of the dairy industry over the past 25 years has meant many former farming properties have been sold on and bought by former city dwellers after a lifestyle change.
A pub, auto garage, general store and cafe are the village's mainstay businesses which cater for locals and tourists alike.
Co-lessee of the historic Tyalgum Hotel Sue Kilcoyne said trade at the pub had almost doubled in the past 12 months.
She said this had been helped along by an increasing number of interstate tourists and day-trippers, especially at weekends.
"There are lots of new people moving here and lots of properties being sold - mostly to professional-type people from Sydney," Ms Kilcoyne, who hails from a longtime Tyalgum family, said.
"But it's still pretty much keeping to that friendly country feeling there's not a lot of changes. A few businesses have changed hands though.
"We got some new kerb and guttering about six months ago and that on its own is a big thing. We also got some new parking bays which all make the place more attractive."
Annual events such as the Tyalgum Festival of Classical of Music, the Wollumbin Festival, Diggers Sports and Australia Day weekends, she said, brought visitors to the town and had a flow-on effect on the local economy.
Allan and Chris Young, of Murwillumbah, took over Bartrim's Garage about a year ago, deciding to buy it because they said it was a great opportunity to run their first business and Tyalgum was "starting to grow".
"I've noticed a lot more well-off people from the Gold Gold Coast buying up land here - they buy their little acreage and love it - we're getting a lot of that trade," Mrs Young said.
Housing and property in the area, she said, were not as cheap as they used to be, and prices had risen in the past 18 months.
"There's nothing under $200,000 in Tyalgum now," she said.
Not that long ago, home buyers could buy a small cottage in the village for well under $100,000.
"We haven't changed this place that much since we took it over, we've tidied it up a bit but it's still much the same business and we mostly see the same crowd - we love working here.
"The pub and us are a bit of a leaving point for locals who leave money or keys to be picked up or raffles to be sold."
Tyalgum people, Mrs Young said, strongly supported charity fundraisers like the Diggers Sports and "try to look out for each other".
Charlie and Christine Pawlak have run the general store for the past 10 years but have sold the business and will soon retire.
"The population is changing, there is more of a mix now with many people coming in from Sydney and the Gold Coast," Mr Pawlak said.
"The scenery, the quietness and low-key feel of the area seems to attract them.
"Property prices have increased, but not to the same extent as Murwillumbah, but they've gone up relatively.
"Lots of things in these places don't change, but the people are changing with more professional people moving in as the older farmers move out farming seems to be making way for more diverse activities and the area's becoming more reliant on tourism."