A fresh pair of eyes | Displaying housing dollars makes sense

COMPARE THE PAIR: Would a billboard displaying the median house prices in Bathurst and Sydney have more of an impact in attracting new residents to our city?
COMPARE THE PAIR: Would a billboard displaying the median house prices in Bathurst and Sydney have more of an impact in attracting new residents to our city?

Ex-Sydneysider STUART PEARSON looks at Bathurst and its future from the perspective of a new resident.

AT Meadow Flat (about 34 kilometres east of Bathurst), there is a modest billboard on the side of the Great Western Highway facing western-bound traffic on their way to Bathurst.

It displays two “emoticons”. The first symbol shows a frowning face with “Capital City” written above it and the second symbol is that of a happy smiley face with the word “Bathurst” written directly above.

The sign is part of a larger “Evocities” campaign to lure people away from Sydney to relocate in one of seven regional cities of NSW: Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.

There are similarly themed billboards throughout NSW, all showing how the wonderful joys of residing in any one of these regional cities is eminently preferable than living in overcrowded Sydney.

These roadside advertisements - including the one at Meadow Flat - are amusing, but not very thought-provoking.

I would like to suggest something different.

Instead of a static billboard with an unchanging display, why not erect a well-lit, solar-powered LED billboard, presenting information that can be altered to keep pace with the latest data. Let me explain.

To the east of Bathurst, next to the Great Western Highway facing western traffic driving away from Sydney, why not erect a billboard that displays two illuminated dollar amounts. The first figure should be headed “Sydney median house price”, while the words above the second illuminated number should read “Bathurst median house price”.

The billboard should be easily read with minimal words and graphics.

What will gain the driver’s attention are the dollar amounts displayed below the names.

The housing prices can change every quarter when official figures on real estate pricing are released. This will make the billboard dynamic rather than static.

By displaying comparative median house price figures to the oncoming traffic, thousands of drivers each day will face the stark reality that housing in Sydney is almost three times more expensive as in the Bathurst region.

Latest quarterly figures from Domain.com (December 2017) show that the median price for a house across the whole of Sydney was $1,179,519 compared with $429,000 for Bathurst’s median house price (city and suburbs).

NSW Department of Roads and Maritime Services states that about 5000 vehicles a day travel along the Great Western Highway approaching Bathurst, some carrying one or two people, others carrying entire families. This means every single day, up to 10,000 people will see the roadside billboard prominently displaying the latest quarterly real estate figures.

Many will be surprised by the staggering difference in real estate prices between Sydney and Bathurst. For others, the illuminated electronic roadside billboard with its simple message will sow a seed of possibilities. And for some, that possible future may eventually lead more individuals and businesses to move permanently to Bathurst.

A simple, clever message on a roadside billboard could indeed have such a dramatic effect on people’s lives, and Bathurst.

Brilliant Bathurst – stuart@bigpond.com