Bellingen-based executive producer Brent Rees, himself a recent seachanger, believes many people have the seachange dream. His
Bellingen-based executive producer Brent Rees, himself a recent seachanger, believes many people have the seachange dream. His

SEACHANGERS LOVING US TO DEATH

By MEL MARTIN

SEACHANGERS are putting at risk the very things that attracted them in the first place, according to Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki.

"I'm seeing coastal towns and cities exploding, and this is happening in a lot of countries around the world, the flow of people towards areas that we love," Dr Suzuki told the Advocate while in Coffs Harbour this week.

"And what usually happens is that city councils love to grow because it brings in revenue and jobs.

"But what I see happening is that the reason people go to those areas, in 10 or 20 years, disappears because of the growth, so just growth per se is crazy."

He says planning and development should in fact be centred around the values we love about an area.

"We need to ask what do we love about this place, why are people moving into Coffs Harbour, what is the attraction here? And then say those are the values that we want to protect forever," Dr Suzuki said.

"Then we need to ask, how can we get development without destroying those values? Too often we don't ask that question."

WHEN Brent Rees and his family made their seachange five years ago, he never dreamt their frenetic transition would be the inspiration for Channel Seven's newest series The Real Seachange.

"I was telling the director of programming how I'd gone in wide-eyed without really realising the pitfalls of such a move," Mr Rees said.

"And he said that was the series he wanted."

Finding people took some lateral thinking, including checking with furniture removal companies.

"Our radar was definitely up for people who were doing something extreme.

"And from my own experience I could really see which families would struggle."

Like the family who moved from the city to run a farmstay and establish a cattle farm, or the city restaurant owners who bought a general store in a Tasmanian town with a population of 300.

As often happens, Mr Rees and his wife, Jennifer Rees Brown, fell in love with Bellingen first and worked through the practicalities later.

"We'd only really been looking for a weekender two hours from Sydney," Mrs Rees Brown said.

"Now we have two kids and I'm reinventing myself, studying psychology."

While travel remains a reality for Mr Rees, it's worth it.

"I love the eclectic nature of Bellingen," he said.

But he is alarmed at the recent 'gentrification' of the town.

"It's happened so fast."

Last Sunday the first part of the 13 week series aired, winning both its 6.30pm timeslot and 'Show of the Night' easily.

"The show has a wide range of demographics ? people think 'that could be me'."



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