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Historic Braidwood at merger crossroads

Originally named the Eastern Capital City Regional Council, Palerang Council was proclaimed on February 11, 2004, when Tallaganda Shire was amalgamated with the area southeast of Canberra. The new council area included the town of Bungendore and, to celebrate the new identity, a brand spanking new council chambers was built on the eastern fringe of that town. The new council area boasted a population of about 15,000.

The jewel in Palerang’s crown is the town of Braidwood which received its NSW state heritage listing on March 30, 2006. The listing was based on Braidwood’s unique setting with its vistas of natural surrounds, the retained character of the main street with its original buildings which include shops, hotels, National Theatre and residences, and its 177 years of history including its bushrangers.

The unsettling discussion about the possibility of bits of Palerang Council being amalgamated with various surrounding council areas has thrown a fairly large spanner into Braidwood’s comfortable and serene works.  The fracture of the close relationship between Braidwood and its small satellite villages, particularly Majors Creek and Araluen, is totally undesirable.

While early reports from Queanbeyan and Goulburn appeared to accept the possibility of Palerang going to one of their directions, the possibility of Palerang being split up has not been met with much joy. In fact, the lack of the once enthusiastic rivalry has led to the belief that nobody wants us!

So, if Palerang Council is split up into bits and pieces, what can Braidwood look forward to? Will our beautiful gem of a village be able to make itself Fit for the Future?

When I first moved to Braidwood in the early 1990s, one of the first organisations I joined was the tourism organisation.  As so often happens in country towns there was a very small team of extremely enthusiastic members who worked hard to diligently promote the most important drawcards which were the town’s history, the bakery and a friendly welcome.

These days, hundreds of vehicles pass through the village at weekends – many stopping to take advantage of our relaxed atmosphere. The very visible tourism office will continue to be manned seven days a week. The majority of our main street shops will stay open all weekend as they do now.

Our visitors and our residents will still support our numerous cafes and eateries (we have more cafes per capita than we should have – all different), we will still attract the young families that seek our lifestyle and our schools will still be at maximum capacity. Our National Theatre and art galleries will remain drawcards for local and visiting film buffs, performers and art lovers.

Our community radio station – 2BRW 94.5 fm – will continue to run 24 hours a day to entertain and inform.

Add the magnificent scenery, the clean air, the clear blue sky (most days), and our proximity to the coast.

What more could anyone wish for?

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