WWWalker's Victorian Business

See Bushfires Bungling | Debt in manufacturing, tourism and education | Greater Shepparton | Goulburn-Murray Water | Geelong | Ballarat | VURRN (Victorian Universities Regional Research Network) | Greater Bendigo | Castlemaine | Rural City of Wangaratta | Internet and Mobile Phone Access | Melbourne

NSW had failed me for the umpteenth time re cashflow so I went south in early 2006 to a more reliable source of income in Victoria! NSW is all flare and no substance. Victoria gets the job done. NSW fritters their money away then sucks everyone else dry to stay in business, the worst state in the Commonwealth to run a business in!

Having a more enterprising government seems less and less remote since ALP won in the March 2007 State election in NSW. Centralist government is here to stay in NSW for a year or 2 more crippling our efforts till we break free.

Since our visit in February-March 2006, I have been back in Orange NSW and returned in June 2009. We left NSW in January 2008 for Brisbane QLD and may move to Victoria in 2009. Details are not yet finalised. Then we can restart our work in Victoria and grow again instead of marking time.

In 2010 NSW election, voters confronted the government agencies in NSW and start reforming the system to stop being so centralist and empire building. Before then I ventured into other states to grow my business. In 2012, Queensland and Victoria are struggling so NSW is more attractive now.

A visit to Melbourne in September 2012, it was only successful for research but not business. Busking was dead as there are 1500 buskers now and the CBD shops seem dead and there are many not catching trams but walking. Online remote support for opensource software for a Melbourne company was more lucrative than visiting Melbourne in person.

Bushfires Bungling

Victorian public servants saved skin by denying problems in bushfire handling - very sick!

Debt in manufacturing, tourism and education

Greater Shepparton

We have developed ties with Shepparton agricultural and small business operators in February 2006. This opportunity came with the lead up to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and revisiting old haunts in Bendigo and Castlemaine in Central Victoria.

Shepparton is a dynamic centre in the Goulburn Valley with the famous SPC Ardmona food cannery and a large number of stone fruit orchards and vineyards in the area which are harvested January to March each year. Worktrainers is the main seasonal employment service in the area. There is a rail head there and the city is only 2 hours from Melbourne and 2 hours from Albury - very centrally located for a business like ours based in Orange NSW. We got there via Cootamundra, Albury and Benalla and returned via the Newell Hwy and Forbes, bypassing Sydney each time and saving time and money. Shepparton is on the Midland Highway which goes all the way to Adelaide, South Australia. You can get to Adelaide in 1 day from Shepparton via V/Line - very useful tip. You can also get to Griffith NSW in the Riverina - another good cross roads to use when jumping into the backblocks of NSW.

Shepparton has campuses of two universities, University of Melbourne and Latrobe University (new $9M building started in 8/2008), and GO TAFE.

They also had much public art in the streets and parks: all sorts of coloured, decorated and flying cows! There is a very beautiful caravan park called Victoria Lake Caravan Park on the Melbourne Road just south of the Post Office and an Aquamoves aquatic centre next door. They just got the Melbourne Road to Seymour upgraded to 2 lanes each way. There is a causeway to Mooroopna which is a small town next to Shepparton where most of the farms are near. Mooroopna is on the junction of the road to Echuca on the Murray River and is the site of the SPC Ardmona factory.

The local newspaper is Shepparton News which is run by McPherson Media, an ISP as well! How's that for diversity!

One good local church is Shepparton Baptist on right off Melbourne Rd going south - 03 5831 2022 - Rev Rob McKenzie is pastor.

The main opportunities are in the highly mobile agriculture business sector who use hi-tech solutions such as solar panels to control irrigation pumps and gates to water their fruit trees and vineyards. There are also opportunities in business services like employment and human resource management e.g. direct payment into bank accounts of pays. The locals still either pay by cash or cash cheque which is antiquated in this day and age. Bookkeeping seems to be in the Dark Ages in Mooroopna. The company doing our pays was sent bankrupt by our farm in April 2006. The farm then went bankrupt in July 2006. This may be the effect of South African imports competing with our local apple and pear farmers and farmers having no alternative source of income when debt gets on top of them leading to wholesale collapse of a 50-year old farm.

In January 2014, Federal Govt knocked back $25M aid request to retool SPC Ardmona saying Coca Cola Amatil should pay for it since they are a multinational billionaire company. Americans seem to hoard their money so Australian subsidiary will probably close. Victorian companies so not invest in retooling. They just ask for government handouts.

Goulburn-Murray Water



linux.conf.au, Federation University (ex University of Ballarat), 16-20/1/12

Federation University (ex University of Ballarat) Campus has a technology park which is the largest regional ICT cluster in Australia.

VURRN (Victorian Universities Regional Research Network)

This covers research and conferences on climate change, healthcare and innovation in Australian regional areas:

Greater Bendigo

Bendigo has grown very large and illustrious from the 1970s when I was going to school there and is a key hub in Central Victoria and also only 1.5 hours from Melbourne with a good train service and upgraded highways to Melbourne. The road to Shepparton is very slow and congested due to all the small towns on the way.

In December 2018, I found Golden Square Secondary College where I went to school and learned violin had been demolished in 2008 and merged with Flora Hill (Bendigo South East College) and Kangaroo Flat Secondary College now Crusoe College. Golden Square High School site is in industrial area Deborah Triangle now but back in 1970s it was just grass. Bendigo South East College is right next to La Trobe University Bendigo Campus so students can do a degree in Bendigo now and not have to go to Melbourne to study at university. La Trobe University is getting a technical college built by Victorian government at cost of $120M including 3D printing and technical labs. This will transition student from high school to university to give them good job prospects and grow Bendigo's technology. Bendigo South East College was Flora Hill Primary School in 1970s where I did year 6. It is now a high school and 2000 in number up from 1000 back in 1970s. It has a theatre and performing space from Golden Square merger.

Quarry Hill Methodist is now the Old Church on the Hill community centre where I used to go to church in 1970s. They hold concerts and open mic sessions at the old church and have a community garden.

Kennington Methodist is now Weeroona Uniting Church. In 2014 Arnold Street, Neale Street and White Hills UCs merged to become one congregation Weeroona Uniting Church Bendigo.

Lake Eppalock has several caravan parks now and boat ramps for jet skis and speedboat racing.

Lake Weeroona now has a board walk and better boat landing for rowing sculls than I remember in 1970s.

I discovered a bush walk in Greater Bendigo National Park in the Whipstick iron bark forest. I walked from Shadbolt Picnic Area to Old Tom Mine in Whipstick. It was hard to find Shadbolt Picnic Area and I used GPS fix to find right street as there is 6km of dirt road on Eaglehawk-Neilborough Rd to get there.

As of 2005, Bendigo now has a huge Exhibition Centre! Talk about growth! Bendigo also has a Stadium in Golden Square for indoor sport.

In June 2009, Bendigo now has a huge number of good shops in the CBD and has many workers commuting from Castlemaine 20 minutes south by train.

The Bendigo Bank started here which now has community banks all over Australia! I'm quite proud of my association with this very innovative and amazing city! They have a very big head office near the fountain in Bendigo!

Bendigo is a swinging federal electorate so there is always plenty of interest from both sides of politics to get this hanging seat so they get all sorts of perks!

Bendigo had a stock exchange (BSX) which has merged with NSX (National Stock Exchange of Australia).

Bendigo even has its own Telco: Bendigo Community Telco! In NSW, it is run by a community group in Dubbo. It has a Business Continuity Centre for backups, very advanced!.

Bendigo Bank is sponsoring the Immigration Bridge Australia in Canberra using Solar Panels as roof and trading in carbon credits! Talk about advanced!

How many more advanced ideas can come out of Bendigo? Endless!!


In December 2018-January 2019, I worked on an apple farm in Harcourt thinning apples.

Castlemaine is a little town just south of Bendigo past Harcourt. I enjoyed popping into there after many years and seeing some old friends from when I lived in Victoria years ago. Bendigo and Castlemaine now have a faster train service due to the ALP Government.

I visited Castlemaine Presbyterian Church and played violin with hymns. It is over road from Castlemaine District Uniting Church. They work together.

The Burke and Wills Expedition monument is in downtown Castlemaine. They explored the outback in 1860-1 from Melbourne, Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland (3000km). (Wills' diary)

Mt Alexander Shire Council did freely let buskers work in Castlemaine so we busked quite successfully in Castlemaine in June 2009 whilst visiting friends. Castlemaine is a very alternative country town. People love buskers and support them very well! Many people in Castlemaine come from Melbourne so they are more open to newcomers and welcome musicians and performers. Now in Dec 2016 the cost has gone up for busking permit unless an hour a day.

Rural City of Wangaratta

Internet and Mobile Phone Access

In November 2011, Paul Budde visited Central Victoria re NBN rollout. This should be very interesting as country Victoria wakes up to the potential in a small computer literate state to what can be done regionally once NBN is rolled out. Bendigo was active in seeing what could be done re the economy with NBN being available.

We hope to return to grow our contacts in Northern and Central Victoria and see the Internet grow in its use for regional commerce and trading and leveraging the remoteness with low cost and effective communications and stop the exploitation of local computer businesses who jack up internet costs for travellers due to a shortage of access points. If you have a Wi-Fi capable laptop, Wi-Fi hotspots at McDonalds were the most economical and effective internet access points to use in the country towns I visited. Mobile phones as usual were a complete rip-off. The only use I made of a mobile phone was to send emails. Due to spam, incoming emails on mobile phones cost way too much so we relied on internet cafes or the Shepparton Library for access. Mobile phone coverage is very flakey just off the main roads for all carriers including Optus or Telstra. GPRS is worse. CDMA is better but is being phased out in April 2008 for NextG or similar 3G. So pity help the bush!

Castlemaine has poor mobile internet via Optus and nil via Vodafone.