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Wycheproof 2010 is a not-for-profit community forum that aims to reverse the trend of declining population in rural Australia by offering local farmhouses for rent for $1 a week.

Inspired by the success of Cumnock and District Progress Association’s Rent a Farmhouse program in New South Wales, the dynamic and proactive rural community of Wycheproof, decided to do something to increase enrolment at the school, pre-school and sporting clubs, and to help local businesses. Wycheproof is located 3 hours north-west of Melbourne on the Calder Highway, 90 minutes north-west of Bendigo and 60 mins south of Swan Hill.

With such a simple concept and a catchy heading the Wycheproof Rent a Farmhouse Project launched on Friday 3 July was always going to be big but the day exceeded all expectations for the working group.

Media enquiries started at 6:15am from radio, press and television and didn’t let up until 9:00pm. Live interviews were broadcast the length of the country in Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Bendigo and Melbourne and the story appeared in more than 50 papers and on-line sites nationally and internationally.

The next storm to hit was from applicants. Despite instructions to access information via the website only, it is unfortunately not difficult to find the phone number of a Post Office and Wycheproof Licensee Kylie Brown was run off her feet fielding calls.

The website was in demand too with over 5000 pages loaded up and over 3000 new visitors on Friday alone. By Sunday night over 140 enquiries and applications had come in from families of all shapes and sizes from most states of Australia. Internationally there were enquiries form Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

The Rent a Farmhouse concept began in Leveston Tasmania and utilises empty, run-down but livable farmhouses to attract new families to the district. In return for nominal rent families are required to renovate the farmhouse over a period of 2-3 years and contribute to community life. The Wycheproof project is modelled on the highly successful Cumnock project in central NSW.

A new telephone information service has been created to assist with enquiries - or 03 9513 6753.

Further information is also availoable at www.wycheproof.vic.au. Applicants have until Monday 3 August to submit their form and photo to rentafarmhouse@wycheproof.vic.au, or post to Wycheproof Dollar Rent a Farmhouse PO Box 8 Wycheproof VIC 3527.

Published: Jul 17, 2009 6:15pm by wyche.

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