Although the multiple economic, environmental and social challenges threatening the viability of rural and regional communities in Australia are well-known, little research has explored how community leaders conceptualise the impact and opportunities associated with economic diversification from agriculture into alternative industries, such as tourism and mining. This qualitative research, utilising the Darling Downs in Queensland as a case study, documents how 28 local community leaders have experienced this economic diversification process.
The findings reveal that local community leaders have a deep understanding about the opportunities and challenges presented by diversification, articulating a clear vision about how to achieve the best possible future for their region. Despite excitement about growth, there were concerns about preserving heritage, the increased pressure on local infrastructure and an ageing population. By documenting local leader's insights, these findings may help inform planning for rural and regional communities and facilitate management of the exciting yet challenging process of growth and diversification