Eating an elephant in Cobar

Brett Richards grew up in regional Victoria before his engineering career took him to Sydney, Melbourne and Papua New Guinea. After 30+ years living in metro cities and several international stints, country life was calling. With the help of Work + Stay, a social impact organisation who specialise in regional recruitment, Brett was connected with Cobar Shire Council who were in need of a new Asset Manager.

Brett felt that Cobar was a perfect fit for him. “After growing up in a small country town in Victoria and then living and working in Sydney and Melbourne over the last 30+ years, the chance to get back to my roots in the country was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he said when speaking to the Cobar Weekly in July.

Brett says he loves the remote location. Cobar is a truly special spot on Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan country, west of Dubbo and east of Broken Hill. It’s surrounded by sweeping vistas of red earth, huge country skies and wild untamed landscapes. The vastness of Australia’s outback is hugely evident there, a reminder that in the great red centre, nature holds a lot of sway. The incredible red-earth landscape is reason enough to head there, but Cobar also features a very cute main street dotted with heritage buildings.

Brett was still living in Port Moresby and working at the Australian High Commission when he secured his new role. Work + Stay worked with local real estate agents to access available housing for him in Cobar, however Brett was able to rent a council property out of town, which he says really suits him. Work + Stay also provided Brett with personalised settling in support to help him make connections in his new community.

For Brett this meant meeting up with Work + Stay Welcome Ambassador Gordon Hill from the Rotary Club of Cobar. After meeting at the local golf club (which Brett promptly joined) Gordon gave him an introductory tour of the town. He also gave him a very welcome tip on where to access firewood for the winter. As anyone who has lived in a cool winter climate knows, you do not want to run out of wood in winter.

Brett’s new role is certainly a busy one. He’s been tasked with compiling and registering a comprehensive list of all council assets and creating an Asset Management Plan – no small undertaking when Cobar Shire is the second biggest shire in NSW. “The sheer area of the shire and the amount of undocumented assets that need to [sic] captured is a little daunting,” he told the Cobar Weekly. “I’ll be approaching this a bit like eating an elephant – taking one bite at a time”.

Brett says that he’s very happy with regional life. “I’m a mad keen golfer and 4WD enthusiast and someone that loves getting out in the back-yard and pottering around the veggie garden – I’m a big fan of eating seasonally and eating primally. You’ll often find me in the backyard cooking up a storm on one of many different types of barbecues (charcoal, smoker or gas) with music blaring away in the background.” (per the Cobar Weekly).

Work + Stay are keen to hear from engineering professionals who are considering a regional move, and from regional employers with infrastructure or engineering workforce. If this is you then please contact Work + Stay via the details below.


Regional employers: send an email to

Candidates: register as a candidate at or send an email to

Image: Brett Richards

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