Residents of Australia’s Small Towns Happiest According to New Survey

I recently posted a photo of a sign on my Facebook author’s page: “You can’t say good eye might without sounding Australian.”

AustraliaHa, ha. Very true. I just love an Australian accent.

I’ve visited Australia in the past and absolutely loved the place. I even do some writing for Property Women, a group of powerhouse Aussie women who invest in property, and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.

I must say, people in general seem incredibly relaxed and happy in the land down under. However, it seems that some people there are happier than others. They just happen to live in the tiniest towns, according to a comprehensive survey by the University of Melbourne.

They interviewed 17,000 people and found that Australians who lived in towns with fewer than 1,000 people are significantly happier and enjoy higher levels of life satisfaction than those who lived in big cities.

Why is that?

Here is what a few people from those small towns had to say in an article written by Jennifer King for Australia Broadcasting Corporation:

  • Mission Beach Tourism chairman Chris Jahnke lives in the small tropical town, Mission Beach Village, Queensland, which boasts a population of 765. He has been a local since 2003, after moving there from Melbourne. It is the sense of community which makes him happy to live there. “Just driving down the road and waving to people, you know,” he says.
  • A sleepy hamlet in the Southern Highlands, Burrawang has a whopping population of 238. Quaint country lanes meander through peaceful, flower-filled gardens with cows grazing nearby. Artist Susan Buret moved from Brisbane to the village in 2009, and loves the solitude and quiet. “There are no street lights so you can see the night sky, the air is fresh and there’s a sense of safety because we all know one another,” she says. “There are no parking hassles, kids can walk to school, there’s more space for your buck so you can have a great studio or a big veggie garden and chooks (that’s Aussie for chickens by the way).”
  • Mataranka has a population of 244 people. Irish nurse Leona Hannigan, moved from London to the center of Australia and feels that it has been one of the best things she has ever done. ‘From my experience in Australia, I notice people in Mataranka are happier,” she says. “They are very welcoming and, because it’s such a small community, you get to know people in the area.”

Australia 2It’s easy to see the attraction. A tranquil and slower way of life, a true sense of community, and lots of nature and fresh air. What’s not to love? I feel calmer just visualizing these places.

The other thing I noticed from the interviews was an appreciation for the most basic, simple, and joyful things in life that we often take for granted. For example, they mentioned a beautiful night sky, a veggie garden, or the pleasure of just waving to other friendly people.

No matter where we live, we can try to slow down and incorporate some of that gratefulness into our lives. Check out my blog, Savor the Day, if you could use some tips on how to do so. 

Eddie Cantor, a vaudeville, film, and radio star famous for his song Makin’ Whoopee, said it well. “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Images courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn and Jennifer Ellison at


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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