Gawler - Town & Country
Narrator: North of Adelaide lies the historic township of Gawler, a rural community that dates back to 1839, when it became South Australia's first regional European settlement. The roots of this area were grown in the rich soils of this fertile wheat belt, which gave rise to this sprawling new agricultural community. The township of Gawler today is a walk back through time, where the iconic stone buildings of the Victorian era still line these streets. History around here is etched in the sidewalks, lane ways and all around this still bustling township, which stands as proud today as it first did over 180 years ago. Although for all of its rich history, the people here are at the very front tiers of the new energy economy. As they rush to invest and transition to renewables, and nobody knows that better than Mike Flak.
Mick: Part-time hobby is when I'll get a bit of spare time from the solar, what we do is we enjoy doing a bit of stuff with our dogs, and a hobby with dogs turned into having a few sheep.
Narrator: As a country guy at heart Mick's 100 acre property on the outskirts of Gawler is home to his beloved hobby farm, where he spends the very little spare time he gets at the end of his day, tendering to his flock of Merino.
Mick: Yeah look, I actually don't mention that a lot of times that I'm a fully qualified electrician. I've been an electrician for over 20 years. Obviously you have all the tickets, design solar installation, battery installations. We're probably one of the most credible companies in South Australia. We'd have close to 6,000 installations in the state.
Narrator: It's a stark contrast to the frenetic pace of life, where as a fully qualified electrician, the uptake of solar power in regional South Australia has seen local solar installation businesses like Mick's, struggling to keep up with demand. As homeowners here, look towards harvesting clean and green solar power.
Mick: What are you doing, just making sure she is straight? Where have you measured? Off the ridge? Okay...
arrator: This need for solar power in regional South Australia is growing daily, as more and more everyday Australians living in regional communities like these are fed up with the pain of electricity prices that are forever on the way up.
Malcolm: Just moved into town in February, so this the first time I ever lived in town in my life.
Narrator: Living a lifetime on his cattle station 350 kilometres North of Port Augusta in the desert country of Marree, retirement planning has now brought Stockman Malcolm to the suburbs of Angaston.
- I thought when we moved in town I'll wait until we got that first bill, and just see what it was, whether to go to solar or not. Got our first bill and it was fairly big, so we decided to go and do solar, so that later on when I do stop work, we haven't got that expense later on, yeah.
Narrator: Of all of the new costs to living in town, it was the first big bill shock that really caught Malcolm by surprise.
Malcolm: It was a pretty big bill that first bill we got, was a thousand dollars for a quarter, and we thought we can't afford that. So that's why we decided to go solar.
Narrator: For people planning retirement like Malcolm, solar makes great sense because it's one of those household costs you can afford to eliminate. So for those that are investing in high quality systems like these LG solar panels, then those 25 years of guaranteed product warranty and performance mean your retirement years now look a lot less financially stressful. Although for families, especially those with growing teenagers, just keeping up with the daily cost of living is a constant battle.
Chantel: Just all adds up. You got sports fees, you got school fees, water bill, how much they eat, so yeah, just everything adds up. We work hard for our money so every time a power bill goes it seems to be, yeah, the bill comes in you pay it and you don't have anything to show for it.
Narrator: And this is so true for many Australian families where the cost of running a household is a never ending struggle. So the ability to get some relief by eliminating power bills is a small thing they can do to make a massive difference to their lives.
Chantel: Yeah just trying to save some money. We worked out our power bills quarterly where were massive. So the quicker we could save some money I think it was only going to take us two years and we were in front, so we had to do it.
Adam: We're hoping to save the majority of our bill, and probably put that straight into our mortgage so that we're saving a lot of money on that.
Narrator: There are also unique challenges of heritage homes in this part of the world too, with many old stone and heritage houses now being fitted with solar.
Brad: This is the old coach house in Davidson, roughly 1854.
Narrator: Being over 165 years old, means homes like these aren't particularly well energy rated by modern building standards, which makes them expensive to heat and cool.
Brad: To run this house the biggest expenses in winter time. Old stone building, it gets very cold here in winter. So yeah, we use a lot more energy in winter, in summertime it's not quite so bad unless we have a massive heat wave and then yeah.
Narrator: So for people like Brad, the cheapest and the best solution is to connect to solar, to offset those living expenses throughout the year. In fact, that's true of Aussies all around this part of the world, and for hardworking blokes like Mick, where solar power is not a fad, it's just a fact of life. It's about being resourceful and making every dollar count. In many ways, this part of regional South Australia is still a farming community at heart. Although it's sunshine now that is their biggest harvest.