I WAS once talking to a businessman who had migrated from Zimbabwe about work, family and life in general.
He asked me where I grew up.
I answered "Woombye".
He asked me where I live now.
I answered, again, "Woombye."
He looked me in the eye and said, "Mate, you are incredibly blessed.
"Not many people get to raise their children where they grew up."
He was, of course right, and I frequently recall that conversation as my young son and I walk down the same streets I walked down as a lad his age, 30 or so years ago. Streets which have retained their charm and character through all these years.
I can show my son the route we rode from home to the shops to spend our weekly pocket money (50 cents, by the way). I can point out the intersection where I took my worst bike stack and had to be carted off to Nambour hospital by a caring neighbour (thank you Mr Sales).
And the Sunshine Coast has kept so much of its village charm.
So many towns, villages, beaches and suburbs have catered for population growth without losing the character and charm that drew residents there in the first place.
I grew up frequenting places like Buderim, Maleny, Eumundi, Eudlo and Cotton Tree - places that have been beautifully preserved.
We've not let our region become some endless suburbia.
We've got the most idyllic climate. Our beaches are postcard perfect. We have a beautiful range that is enjoying a tourism boom.
As we heard at the Futures Forum, the Sunshine Coast certainly faces challenges.
We need to keep kicking and screaming until our governments provide the road and rail link from here to Brisbane that is about 20 years overdue.
And we need to future-proof our beautiful region by broadening our economic base.
I was talking to a journalist who recently returned to the Coast from living in France.
He couldn't wait to get back here.
Apparently the economic situation across Europe is exponentially worse than anything we've seen in Australia.
I think we're fortunate to live in Australia. And those of us who are able to call the Sunshine Coast home are among the most fortunate of all.
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