In line with other coastal communities in Australia, Albany and the south coast have been experiencing rapid population change. This in turn has impacted on local development decisions and focused thinking on the vision the community has for the region’s future. Add this to more global issues, such as drought, climate change, environmental issues and the resources boom and the mix becomes complex and demanding. This discussion paper touches on these complexities and draws some parallels to other parts of the country and internationally. It offers an opportunity to consider the ‘big picture’ and suggests some signposts for possible future directions.