FLANKED by a sprawling industrial area, a major highway and an airport, it’s an unlikely place for Tamworth’s “boom town”.
But Westdale, a blue-collar suburb built on the back of young families and affordable house and land packages, has emerged as one of the city’s growth corridors.
Just-released figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the Westdale population has surged by more than a third in the past five years, an average increase of 6.9 per cent – almost five times the Tamworth growth rate of 1.5 per cent.
The Westdale Public School enrolment numbers have jumped from 360 to 516 in the same period, fuelled by an influx of young families – many of them first home buyers – lured to the West Tamworth suburb.
“There’s not a lot of crime and people are very supportive of one another – it’s a really close-knit community,” Westdale Public School principal Julie Kirk said.
“In a way, it’s like the city has met the country out here and it still has that country-town feel.
“I’ve been teaching here 20 years and I’m now teaching the next generation of kids, so people obviously like to stay here.”
Father-of-three Jamie Day moved his young family to the suburb five years ago and said it was the best move he’d ever made.
“It’s a very economical place to live and we were able to put the house we wanted on the block we chose,” Mr Day said.
“There’s lots of young families and we all look out for each other’s kids if they’re in the neighbourhood, or riding their scooter on the road.
“It’s only seven minutes to the CBD and we’ve got our own post office, hairdresser, butcher and a mini-supermarket.
“The only thing we really need is a bigger chain supermarket.”
Local builder David Bright from David Bright Homes has built more than 60 homes in the suburb and said the affordability of land had been a major driver for growth.
“The price of land, on average, would be $10,000 or $15,000 cheaper than other subdivisions and there have traditionally been a lot of first home buyers here,” Mr Bright said.
“It’s a real blue-collar suburb – a lot of people who work at the abattoirs or Taminda.
“But it’s full of good, honest, working people and it doesn’t seem to get the riff-raff other working-class areas get.
“We did a survey here a while back and more than 50 per cent of people were under the age of 35.
“There were also quite a few retired people who didn’t want to spend $500,000-plus on a home and have a massive investment tied up.”