That's the Spirit: Kelly McCutcheon - Trangie NSW
Family and business brought Kelly McCutcheon to Trangie, but it’s the opportunity to immerse herself in community life that’s won her heart. The young mum and career professional believes there’s as much – if not more – opportunity in small regional centres as in the city, as long as you’re prepared to “get in and have a go”. Kelly told Jen Cowley how Trangie is one such community that gives as much as it gets.
Kelly: I was born in Bourke, raised in Dubbo and married a bloke who was born in Dubbo and raised in Trangie. My husband runs a diesel mechanics business and I work in economic development for Narromine Shire Council.
Jen: Apart from your husband, what was the attraction to coming “back to the bush”?
Kelly: We moved back here because of the opportunity that arose when we went through a (family) succession planning. My husband was born and raised on 15,000 acres at Trangie, so he has always had a really strong connection to the land and to the community out here. When we married and decided to raise a family, we knew we wanted to do that at Trangie. I grew up on what you’d call a small hobby farm at Rawsonville just outside Dubbo, and we knew we wanted to be close to both my family and his family, so Trangie made sense. My husband is one of six boys so he has a really close-knit family out here.
Jen: As a young parent and a career woman, do you think opportunities can be just as fruitful when you live in a regional area like Trangie as they would be anywhere else?
Kelly: Absolutely. I think the main benefit of being in a region like Trangie is that the community is really supportive of anyone who is out there having a go. There’s opportunity and it’s much easier than in metro areas to set up a small business because of that support from the community. We also have the added bonus of being in the agricultural epicentre of NSW – there’s a broad range of farming activities that happen out here, so if you’re driven and ready to give it a go, the community will back you. There are ample opportunities. And it’s an easy commute to Narromine or Dubbo where there are opportunities as well.
We have everything we need within reach.
Childcare is readily available as well. You’re in a small community so everyone is there to help.
Kelly McCutcheon, Trangie NSW
Jen: Do you ever wonder why not everybody lives in Trangie or a similar small community, given there are so many positives?
Kelly: I do wonder but a lot of people have been spoilt for choice, even living in a regional city like Dubbo. You become quite used to having everything at your fingertips. In Trangie you might not have a different take-away (food) option for every night of the week, but you cherish the relationships you build. You’re more inclined to go and have dinner at a friend’s house, and that’s part of building and maintaining close ties. The move out here was motivated by family and my husband’s business opportunity but I think the real added benefit was being able to become so deeply involved in the community. That’s what makes it all worthwhile. That made the move easy, and I quickly forgot about all the little things I might have had access to in Dubbo that I thought I’d miss. I don’t even think about that any more.
Jen: You and your extended Trangie family are very much involved in and the social and economic side of the community. What are some of the things you’ve become involved with?
Kelly: I was originally involved in the Macquarie Matrons, a local community-based group that raised many thousands of dollars for the wider Central West community. Then I became part of the renowned Macquarie Picnics committee, where I assisted in running the local horse racing event. After moving to town and seeing a lot of opportunities for different events out here, I became involved with the Trangie Truck and Tractor Show committee.
I’m also on the Board for Tots on Temoin – the Trangie Pre-School and Early Learning Centre.
If there’s anything we can be involved in, we step up. My husband’s family has done so much when it comes to different aspects of the community, from donating time to machinery, to helping to run various events that are happening.
But that’s not unusual, because the whole community comes together for the greater good – and you do that without realising you’re even donating your time or equipment.
Kelly McCutcheon with baby Olivia, selling raffle tickets ahead of the 2019 Trangie Truck & Tractor Show.
Jen: Often a committee of such long standing might be resistant to change, but to be so welcoming to someone new is terrific and an injection of new ideas is healthy.
Jen: What drives you to do that? What do you get from it?
Kelly: I supposed the satisfaction of being able to host an event that we can all go to. Again, I think that’s one thing you don’t realise you forgo when you move to a country area, that regularity of events. But then the ability to be involved in those kinds of committees is really satisfying because it’s something for you and your friends to go to. The Trangie Truck and Tractor Show was a massive event. It attracted about 4000 people more than we expected.
There was a great sense of satisfaction with that because of what it did for the town at the time. We were essentially at the really pointy end of the drought – 2019 is when it really stuck into us. The previous year, I think we were all still trying to be a little bit optimistic. We knew how tough the times were, and holding the (truck and tractor) show was a real way for the community to come together. We had the whole community involved – everything from the schools, to the nursing homes painting tractors that were put up down the main street, to different cafes to places setting up shop window fronts, and the café was doing special themed milkshakes…. there was a real buzz around town.
When you’re going through something like the drought in such a small community you see local businesses being directly and devastatingly affected; you’re watching your family walk around scratching their heads because they’re used to running well-oiled farm operations but they have nothing to do because they’ve ploughed every paddock they can go near and they’re sick of burning diesel.
So with the truck and tractor show coming up, it gave farmers something to do, which is something they were all missing. Suddenly, they had to get the tractor and the truck out of the shed and wash them to get them ready for the show. They had those few little things to do and it gave them the satisfaction of using their hands and their heads like they used to.
Jen: An event like that is about more than just economic benefit for the town.
Kelly: Massively. The economic benefit and the injection of money into the smaller communities was great, but there was also a huge social benefit that flowed from it. For instance, it meant that Trangie Tennis Club was able to get up off the ground after years of being unable to pay insurance. There was also the social benefit of the event in terms of pulling the people together, getting community groups to come together and work for the greater good not only of individual clubs, but the whole community.
It was important to see everyone being proud of Trangie when we had been hit by dust storm after dust storm after dust storm. We had a red town covered in horrendous dust but as the trucks were rolling in and the dust was stirring on the show ground, there was nothing more impressive than seeing all the farmers in Trangie having a yarn, talking to each other and forgetting about the drought for a while.
Jen: What makes you proud to say you’re from Trangie?
Kelly: The community spirit. The sense of community in Trangie is second to none, unlike anywhere else I’ve seen. It’s like you’re in a little club. Everyone supports each other and they really do get behind each other.
Jen: What do you think makes Trangie resilient?
Kelly: We’re very lucky in Trangie because we do have such a number of strong community groups and strong community members that are all there for the greater good. That means there’s always someone looking out for someone else.
That’s what adds to the resilience because even during the COVID-19 crisis, a special little group formed, and they would go around and call on all the elderly people and make sure they were okay and see if they needed anything delivered. There’s just this real sense of community.
Being able to see the whole community come together helps to add a little bit of personal resilience, just as it does for the whole township.
NALAG's 'That's the Spirit' hardcover book features a selection of excerpts from the stories gathered from Western NSW during 2018-2020.
Kelly McCutcheon, Trangie NSW