A Great Place for Work and Play

Pyrenees Shire Council

Located just two hours’ drive from Melbourne, Pyrenees Shire offers city dwellers a welcoming country escape – for an afternoon, or for a lifetime. Business opportunities and high liveability make the quaint community an ideal spot for young families and for entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities. Tourists will delight in the region’s fine wines, outdoor recreation, and village charm.

The shire’s prime location is a major factor in its recent, and projected, economic growth. Beaufort, a town of around 1,400 people, will benefit from the Ballarat West Employment Zone project underway in nearby Ballarat. Located on the main Melbourne to Adelaide highway only 30 minutes from Ballarat, Beaufort expects to attract a portion of the new businesses and 30,000 new residents that the development project is projected to bring in. “Our land prices in Beaufort are one third to one half of what Ballarat is charging,” Mayor John Quinn explains. “So we expect a big influx of young families.” Growing families with active children can easily find a suitable lifestyle property, he adds. And, Beaufort has just invested in a new childcare centre and kindergarten conveniently located directly beside the existing secondary school where plans include colocation of a new primary school. “Kids can… have their entire education experience in one spot,” Mr Quinn says. “We think that’s great for young families moving into this area.”

Furthermore, there is not a single traffic light between the two towns, making the trip from Beaufort to Ballarat every commuter’s dream. This entire stretch of highway is currently being expanded to four lanes, ensuring a traffic free drive, even with the expanding population. “You have a clear run right through on a four lane freeway to Ballarat,” Mr Quinn remarks. In addition, Council is about to undertake a partnership project with Regional Development Victoria and the Department of Transport costing three million dollars in flood prevention measures for the benefit of the Beaufort community, and which will make its Industrial Park an ideal location.

There are many opportunities throughout the shire for business development and growth. The Pyrenees Hay Cooperative, for example, recently began exporting hay to China. “The Chinese have intimated that they would like to see them running seven days a week, 24 hours a day and sending as much hay as possible. That’s tremendous news for all our local farmers,” Mr Quinn reports. Pyrenees Shire also produces a wide variety of agricultural products, including canola and wheat. “With the increase in demand not only in Australia, but also overseas, it’s going to be golden years ahead for our farming community.” With major highways (Western, Sunraysia and Pyrenees) intersecting within its borders, the shire is also a prime location for the transport industry. Beaufort and Avoca both have organisations dedicated to promoting local businesses and the shire’s Council of Economic Development “is always on hand to advise in great details the opportunities that exist here.”

The State Government plans to bring in natural gas to Avoca, which Mr Quinn says will expand the possibilities of the shire’s industrial zone and surrounding businesses even further. One of Pyrenees Shire’s most exciting future projects is the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, located 5km south of Beaufort. Construction begins next year on a facility which will include over 150 wind turbines. The project will take several years to complete, creating “opportunities there for all sorts of tradespeople,” Mr Quinn explains. “We are expecting big things from that in the next few years.”

The wind farm is predicted to bring significant economic benefits including rental payments to both local landowners and a community fund, rates to the local government, and the creation of jobs across a variety of sectors. “We already have a big wind farm at Waubra,” Mr Quinn explains. Another positive, of course, is that the new wind farm approved at Stockyard Hill will generate clean energy for countless households.

New residents taking advantage of the shire’s burgeoning economy will find that the Pyrenees is a pleasant place to live as well as work. “Liveability here is great,” asserts Mr Quinn. “The air is wonderful; it is a Mediterranean climate.” Activities abound for locals and tourists alike. Known as the gateway to the Grampians, the shire is a haven for nature lovers. Filled with waterfalls, lookouts, dense bush and open plains, the region boasts a variety of natural features to explore. Family campgrounds provide a relaxing and inexpensive break from the stresses of everyday life. Full of challenging trails with stunning views, the village of Avoca has earned a reputation as a prime mountain biking destination. Thrill seekers can experience nature via four wheel drive, horseback, or hang glider. The Beaufort area’s Dynamic Flight Hang Gliding School, one of the few hang gliding schools operating in Australia year round, offers a wide variety of launch sites. And, with a long history of gold mining in the region, the shire’s nature goers may well find their very own gold nugget to claim. Metal detectors are available for hire from the Avoca Caravan Park for anyone willing to try their luck.

For the less adventurous, sealed bike paths suitable for prams and wheelchairs provide an easy afternoon stroll in the shade. The peaceful Avoca River and Beaufort Lake are dotted with picnic grounds and serene views. Car clubs also flock to the Pyrenees for its scenic drives. Many villages are known for their eclectic galleries and antique shops including Westbury Antiques in Avoca and The Imperial Egg Gallery at Beaufort which features jewelled eggs, reminiscent of the Faberge Eggs made for the Russian Czar. Sports abound, including football, netball, and an active racing club. The community is presently working to organise a polo competition as well. The French game pétanque is also popular, and playing fields can be found throughout the shire, particularly at the wineries.

Pyrenees Shire is perhaps best known for its fine wines, and visitors to the region’s many vineyards will enjoy a variety of tours and tastings. Respected wine critic James Halliday has praised the local offerings, which are primarily produced from the distinctive Shiraz grape. A diverse range of varietals are available as well, including Sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, red and white Cabernet, Barbera Sangiovese, Brunello Dolcetto, Chardonnay and Riesling. Wineries are concentrated in the Avoca and Moonambel Valley area, easily accessible by major highways. The renowned Pyrenees wineries are “in the top 2.8 per cent of wineries in Australia,” Mr Quinn adds, and many wineries include accommodation for a relaxing and indulgent getaway. The Warrenmang Vineyard in Moonambel, for example, is home to a five star resort offering superb wines and lovely views.

Pyrenees wineries have also been enjoying a boost from increased opportunities abroad. Many local wineries have begun exporting into the Asian market and are using their expertise to help develop wineries and vineyards in China. “The Chinese middle class… are developing an appetite for quality wines and quality food,” Mr Quinn explains. “So we can see an expanding market up that way for our quality wines and also for our agricultural produce.”

Another local treat gaining popularity is ice cream produced by Senses Desserts. The old prospecting town of Amphitheatre has proved the perfect new location for this speciality sweets manufacturer. Since the business relocated to a strategic location along the Pyrenees highway, the region has quickly developed a reputation for quality ice cream. Ice cream connoisseurs will delight in a variety of gourmet flavours, including alcoholic varieties. The company even restored a 150 year hotel for its new site, enabling customers to indulge their sweet tooth in a unique, historical setting.

Pyrenees Shire provides diverse business opportunities, affordable housing, and the liveability that entrepreneurs and young families crave. Overstressed Melbourne residents will also benefit from the relaxed, small town offerings. “Come along,” Mr Quinn invites. “Enjoy our five star, award winning wines, have an ice cream, have a wonderful, relaxing overnight stay in some of our beautiful accommodation and head back to the hurly burly of Melbourne revitalised and refreshed.” Or, don’t head back at all. Pyrenees Shire has plenty to offer for the long run.

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November 21, 2018, 3:47 AM AEDT