CECIL Barnard loves the Southern Downs.

So much so, he's been all over the world, but knows this is where he wants to stay for a very long time.

Born in South Africa "sometime last century", he grew up in a farm in an area very similar to the one he finds himself in today.

"We had all the crops, just like here; wheat, sorghum, barley and we ran a dairy," Mr Barnard said.

"My mother had Friesland cows (Friesian), good Dutch milk-producing cows."

Mr Barnard studied town planning at Potchefstroom University and ran his own business as a town planning and project management consultant working all over Africa, before deciding to emigrate to Australia in 2007.

"Being someone who is always looking ahead in life and in my work, I saw South African government policy direction was heading in the wrong direction," he said.

"I saw no money being spent on education and infrastructure and way too much being spent on fancy cars and big parties.

"For me as a professional whose career relies on an orderly society, I could see the wheels were starting to fall off and in 2004 decided to get out as soon as possible.

"I looked at the countries I'd been to and thought, 'Australians like rugby and cricket, have barbecues, enjoy drinking beer and wine and drive Toyotas on the left hand side of the road, that sounds like the place for me'."

After a couple of years of waiting for the emigration and visa processes to be complete, Mr Barnard landed a job as town planner for the Rockhampton City Council.

In 2012 a need to move to a cooler climate with a closer proximity to the major centres found Mr Barnard applying for a job at the SDRC, which he got and currently holds as the planning and development manager.

Mr Barnard bought a 75-year-old house that he says is "eating all his cash" as he renovates it.

"When you move to a new area, you need to dig in and immerse yourself in the community, otherwise you're just a drifter.

"I ride motorbikes and it's fantastic here for that. My wife Izelle and I cycle, which we love, and we're both passionate supporters of the arts and motorsport in this region.

"We have the Barnard Art Foundation, which gives a monetary prize to a talented young artist every year to encourage them to continue creating."

Mr Barnard said he'd really like to see the internet services in the region improve and believed they're holding us back.

"This would help bring entrepreneurs to the region to help grow the local economy.

"Everybody really needs to embrace the global digital age and move with and ahead of the times."



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