From Scunthorpe to Crookwell


It’s a long way from Scunthorpe to Crookwell. A REALLY long way. But that’s the journey taken by Upper Lachlan Shire Council’s new Director of Environment and Planning, Alex Waldron, albeit with a number of stops along the way.

It’s not only a long way away, there are a number of other differences between Scunthorpe and the Upper Lachlan Shire. Located between Sheffield and Leeds in England, Scunthorpe, where Alex was born and raised, is a steel town of around 89,000 people. It’s bigger, more industrial and they sound a bit different.

But for all the differences, there were some similarities. It was often cold, it was often wet, and everyone was into sport.

“I loved playing sports growing up. It was a very sporty town,” she said.

“When I was young, I played rugby union. I was the first girl to play rugby in Scunthorpe, which at the time was a bit of a big deal.”

“But when I was twelve they stopped me playing in the boys’ team and there wasn’t a girls’ team, so I played other sports like football and netball.”

Alex left England in 2008 when she was offered a position in sunny Queensland near the Whitsundays. When she arrived, the position was actually in MacKay… a little less idyllic than the Whitsundays but tropical nonetheless and still a massive change.

“The job was as an environmental health officer, and at the time there was a skills shortage in that area,” she said.

“And I thought to myself … I’m young, sounds like fun… I’ll go there for a year.”

But days turn into weeks, weeks into years, and 13 years later she’s still here. And now a naturalised citizen, she is likely to stay.

And Alex hasn’t spent her time in Australia lazing away in the sun.

With an Honours Bachelor Degree, a Masters Degree in Science (Environmental Health) and other qualifications in Applied Management, Leadership, Environmental Planning, Performance Management and Legal studies to name a few, Alex brings to the position an admirable array of knowledge and training.

And in terms of employment and experience, she has achieved over two decades in local government… half of those in leadership roles such as Co-Ordinator, Manager, Director and Deputy General Manager.

Immediately prior to moving to the Shire, she was the Manager of Sustainable Environment & Waste at Bellingen Shire Council.

One of the main attractions for Alex of the position of Director of Environment and Planning was an opportunity to take on a greater challenge, both as a Director and in a newly modified department which now encompasses Environment, Planning, Water, Waste & Sewer and IT.

“In some ways it’s a new position,” she said.

“And because the job has been restructured, and this department now includes groups that weren’t together before, my main goal is to bring all the elements together cohesively,” she said.

A second attraction for Alex was the lifestyle and affordability of the Shire. Before COVID she said it was becoming impossible to buy a house under $800,000… and after COVID that only got worse.

And a third? The snow. Having acclimatised to Australia’s warmer climes up North, it may take her a little while to readjust, but she’s looking forward to the snow, cooler weather and all.

“It actually snowed my first weekend here,” she said.

“I know it’s not all the time, but I it’s more often than where I’ve been. And I don’t mind the cold, it just might take a while to get used to it again. And my family hadn’t seen the snow at all. The landscape also looks a bit like where I grew up.”

Alex’s crew includes her partner, a boy aged eight, girl aged six and a mixed pair of two-year old twins.

Since arriving Alex has checked out a number of local sporting teams. Still a rugby fan, she is also a keen football/soccer player, having played competition soccer for 20+ years. If COVID ever allows it, she’d like to get back into playing sport soon.

And on weekends, to get a better look at the Shire, Alex and her family had been visiting different eateries across the Shire to taste the local fare and get to know the towns.

Like so many other things, that’s been placed on pause since the recent COVID lockdown. But once restrictions are lifted, she says they’ll be back on the road, adventuring around the Shire and really getting to know the place.