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Star film producer and country girl, Bec Bignell hosts new podcast exploring stories of Australians swapping city lights for country living

March 10 2023

Research by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) reveals in 2022, net migration from capitals to regions was still 45 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels*.

Australians are leaving capital cities in their droves, lured to the country by more space, more time and more value.

A new podcast, launched today by the RAI’s Move To More initiative, explores the stories of city dwellers who packed up and are now forging a new life in regional Australia.

The host of You Moved Where?! is Bec Bignell, acclaimed filmmaker and herself a recently returned regional Australian.

Bec’s ambition in the world of arts, film and TV projected her from the wide-open spaces of small-town Kojonup in the Western Australia Great Southern to the hustle bustle of life, in Sydney.

Bec’s big city move resulted in lofty career heights including working on major stage, TV and film projects; a senior role with the ABC and in 2018, Bec was named in the AFR’s 100 Women of Influence.

However, the COVID pandemic, as it did for many people, turned things upside for Bec and she suddenly found herself back on her old stomping ground. “In 2020 I was offered an amazing opportunity on an exciting feature film in my beloved great southern backyard. I was pregnant with my first child. With border closures, and a new kind of ‘COVID mindset’, my husband, James, a city boy from Bronte Beach, and I embraced the change. “While I didn’t set out for a full circle moment, I quickly found myself sinking back into the things I love about country life - the community, the simplicity, the space, the solitude!” Bec said.

In the first series of You Moved Where?! Bec talks to eight ‘movers’ including Olympian and media personality Giaan Rooney, who swapped Brisbane for a macadamia farm in the northern Rivers region of NSW; Ellie Bigwood who switched Sydney for the expanse of a top end cattle station and Jacinta Reddan who, following an international corporate career, has landed the job of her dreams in sunny Cairns! “In our first series, listeners will get unfiltered exploration of the transition from city country,” Bec said.

You Moved Where?! delves in, warts and all, to the entire process of the ‘big move’ through other people’s points of view so listeners can learn about others’ experience, their regional community and their new country life.

Episode 1 features Luke Prout, who has returned to his hometown as the publican of one of the country music capital’s most iconic institutions, The Tamworth Hotel.

Like many country kids, when Luke turned 18 he was keen to explore the city lights. With a love of music, the self-proclaimed ‘Townie from Tamworth’ quickly landed on his feet in Sydney. Electrified by the live music gigs, endless hospitality options and his work in bustling, big smoke pubs - Luke was in his element.

“There was no question of moving home - ever. I was going to make it work,” Luke said.

As the years rolled by Luke rose through the ranks as a highly respected employee in top Sydney pubs and with significant experience under his belt, he decided to branch out in search of a hotel he could call his own. Joining forces with a venue partner he commenced an expansive hunt for the pub of his dreams.

“The minute my mum said The Tamworth Hotel was up for sale it was just like I knew…we were going to buy it and that was going to happen. I was going to move home.”
Regional Australia Institute CEO Liz Ritchie said the pandemic had propelled the volume of city to country movers but even before COVID-19 the shift was on.

“Australians of all ages, at all stages of their working life and with different interests are finding what they need outside the bounds of capital cities: whether that’s improved wellbeing; being closer to nature; or their big next career move.”

Since 2020, through, the RAI has been helping to connect Australians-on-the-move with their dream regional location, jobs and home.

“The You Moved Where?! podcast is the next exciting tool to inspire the regionally-curious to find what’s possible. Because the best way to learn is to hear from those who have made the move and are now living and loving their best country life,” Liz said.

Listen to Luke’s story on Episode 1 and subscribe to You Moved Where?! at Apple and Spotify

You Moved Where?! is a part of initiative, which is powered by the Regional Australia Institute and supported by the Australian Government. Move To Move partners include Domain, Muval, nbn Co and SEEK.

*Regional Australia and CBA’s Regional Movers Index: December 2022 Quarterly Update

For media enquiries contact:

Regional Australia Institute 
Laureta Wallace
Ph: 0408 448 250
E: [email protected]