Decline has caused anxiety for Australian country towns. Since World War II, the newspaper press has firmly established that country towns were threatened by decline. Yet media images of decline are not always negative. In fact, many advantages traditionally identified with the ideal country life are ironically dependent on the very factors that created anxiety about decline. By contrasting images of country life with the urban sprawl and identifying quality of life in a country setting, newspapers have presented symptoms of decline as desirable. They have also increasingly portrayed the past as aesthetically pleasing and championed the cause of local history. By exploring three representations of decline in metropolitan and country newspapers - their images of population trends, the good life and the past - this article discusses the ways that the symptoms of decline came to be reinterpreted to have positive associations for country towns.