Colac Otway: Creating jobs in country Victoria

Sharon Bradshaw & brother Matt

April 20, 2015

Sharon Bradshaw and brother Matt have helped put the tiny Otway’s town of Forrest on the map and created for themselves the perfect jobs in country Victoria.

When the duo began their dream more than five years ago of turning a derelict building into the now thriving Forrest Brewing Company, the town was still in the early stages of waking from a long history as a timber town and a place to stop half-way up the hill on the road to Apollo Bay.

Now, it’s a veritable mountain bike riding mecca, drawing regular influxes of tourists, both the lycra clad variety, and the broader cross-section of visitor, looking to escape to stunning bushland and a place, that continues rapid growth in hospitality choices.

“For me, living here is about well-being,” Sharon says of her tree change in Victoria’s stunning Otway Ranges. “Before this I worked in academic publishing, specialising in how to integrate online resources into libraries.  And for a while I still worked in Melbourne while travelling each week to Forrest to help establish the brewery.

“Building the business in Forrest was very much about creating something where the world came to us. We wanted to live here, but it was about finding a way to earn a living while being here,” she says.

“And it’s been really rewarding to have done that.”

It was the environment that should take the credit for drawing the Bradshaws to Forrest. “Matt is a keen fisherman, so he used to travel here to fish for trout in the reservoir, or to Apollo Bay,” Sharon says

From his entrée into the region as an amateur fisherman, to life now with a young family and a well-established place in the community, Matt’s arrival and Sharon’s made a marked change in turning Forrest into a place to invest real leisure time. Their entrepreneurial approach is proof of how research, careful planning and hard work can create a thriving business with flow-on effects helping create jobs in country Victoria.

“For me it’s really interesting watching that regional renewal. We’ve had new families move into the town, new babies, new kids – and that’s really exciting,” says Sharon.

“There is real liveability here. For people moving down from Melbourne it’s still very affordable to buy a house. And for those who do move here you can either live off the radar, or on, it’s entirely up to you how much you put yourself out there.

“The bush is three streets away, and there is always work if you want it.”

Make the move to the country and enjoy life in Colac Otway Shire, with the added benefit of some of the most affordable housing regional Victoria can offer.