According to a Bond University study, the eastern Riverina is the “happiest” and “kindest” place in NSW. Based on the ratio of volunteers six Riverina shires were in the top ten for the “kind” category with Lockhart Shire taking out the top spot.
The Bond University’s Happiness Index is the latest in a string of favourable numbers for the Lockhart Shire. The council’s tourism and promotional activities, as well as its investment in infrastructure is being reflected in other positive statistics.
Visitors to The Rock Nature Reserve hit a record 47,000 people in 2018, compared to 20,000 in 2013, a 145 per cent increase. Similarly, visitor numbers at the Visitor Information Centre at Lockhart have been steadily increasing. A total of 3600 visitors were recorded in 2018 compared to 2100 in 2013, a 71 per cent increase.
The Lockhart Caravan Park and the free camping facilities at The Rock Recreation Ground are also being increasingly used.
More importantly however the shire’s population is now also increasing. After experiencing population decline over recent decades the 2016 census signalled a reversal of the trend with the Shire recording a 4.04 per cent increase over the five year period since the 2011 census.
Subsequent reports released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that this trend is continuing. According to the ABS, the Estimated Resident Population of Lockhart Shire is 3245 at June 30, 2017, an annual increase of 2 per cent, one of the highest in regional NSW.