The choice to leave town after six relatively happy years of living in Cobar was a tough decision for Stephen Poulter and his young family to make.
Working as council’s manager of planning and environment and feeling like his family were very much part of the community, Stephen said the decision to move had been a difficult one.
“We’ve just found it really challenging over the past 12 months,” Stephen told The Cobar Weekly.
After he and wife Alicia welcomed their first child in December 2018 and Stephen’s mother passed away last year, the couple felt the need to be closer to their families.
Stephen said their move to Port Stephens would cut down their travel time to see family to two hours compared to the eight hours travel they have been doing from Cobar over the past six years.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I think the length of time is some indication of how much I have enjoyed working here,” Stephen said of his position at Cobar Shire.
He said it had been a recommendation from a friend working at Carrathool Shire Council which encouraged him to make the move from Sydney, where he had worked at Fairfield Council for 10 years.
“I wanted a broader range of experience
and you can get that working in a rural
“I’ve learnt so much since I’ve been here.
“From a council perspective, if you work in the city, you’re doing one thing—day in, day out.
“If you come here, you’re doing waste, you’re doing planning, you’re doing building surveying. There’s heaps of different things and every day’s different.
“Here I’ve been able to work in a fantastic environment, driving around long distances, visiting places like Euabalong, going on dirt roads and just seeing great wildlife.
“I’ll never forget the experience,” he said.
During his time at Cobar Shire Stephen said he was pleased to have been able to work with other staff to enhance a number of programs including food safety, building surveying and planning as well as working to improve customer experiences.
“With food safety, I think we’ve got a really good program in place now and people can feel a bit more comfortable about going into food premises.”
Stephen has enjoyed working with his council colleagues and over his time he’d was keen to be involved in anything that was “a little bit different and challenging”.
“We participated in the Corporate Leadership Cup where council came third up against all sorts of city councils.
“It was good to be able to include some staff members who may not have had that experience in the past,” he said.
Outside of working, Stephen said he enjoyed playing learning how to play Squalleyball and his involvement with the Cobar Memorial Services Club where he spent a term as vice president of the board.
He helped to set up the club’s social media and website which he will continue to monitor from Port Stephens.
“My involvement in the club helped me to gain a lot more friends, not just workplace colleagues.
“It was great to walk into the club and be able to say g’day and have a chat to lots of different people.
“I recommend to anyone that does move to Cobar to get involved in the community.
“Don’t sit at home at the weekend, go for a bike ride, go to the shops, shop locally.
“Being part of a community makes the transition so much easier.
“I’ve made some good mates, and will look forward to coming back as a tourist, maybe even a free camper.”
Stephen’s new position with Port Stephens Council is as Senior Building Surveyor and Fire Safety Officer.