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Listen to Episode 3 of Voice of Real Australia podcast: Dungog's mountain biking regional tourism boom, and is telehealth's COVID-19 Medicare expansion good for rural health?

Dungog's pedal-powered boom

Like many country towns around Australia, Dungog has dealt with a lot in recent years. It has confronted drought and bushfires, and local industries such as dairying are shrinking. Add the pandemic on top of that and the future looked dark for the picturesque town of 2000 in the Hunter Valley.

Ride Dungog's Chloe Chick and other volunteers installed flow tracks down the hill at the Common. PHOTO: Marina Neil

Ride Dungog's Chloe Chick and other volunteers installed flow tracks down the hill at the Common. PHOTO: Marina Neil

But the town has seen a boom after a group of local mountain bike enthusiasts got together and installed tracks in nearby bushland.

In a time of such doom and gloom elsewhere, for this little town to sort of just flourish in the corresponding time frame, has just been remarkable.

Craig Stephenson

We went for a ride in Dungog and spoke to locals and visitors about how the wheel has turned on the town's fortune.

The picturesque Hunter Valley town of Dungog has a population of about 2000. PHOTO: Marina Neil

The picturesque Hunter Valley town of Dungog has a population of about 2000. PHOTO: Marina Neil

Is telehealth good for health in the bush?

Have you ever used telehealth before? Since March, with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, around 30 million consultations with GPs and allied health professionals have taken place online or over the phone.

Since March, nearly 30 million Australians used telehealth for GP and allied health professional consults. PHOTO: Getty

Since March, nearly 30 million Australians used telehealth for GP and allied health professional consults. PHOTO: Getty

A lot of those consultations have been in the bush, opening up convenient access to healthcare where distance has traditionally made it difficult. The uptick was made possible by temporary changes to Medicare support made in response to the pandemic.

If you have a sinus infection, you suffer dizzy spells, nausea. Imagine having to drive three and half hours to get antibiotics. It's dangerous.

Rebecca

We talked to patients and doctors in the bush to find out what they want from telehealth going forward. Everyone's eager to see better health outcomes for rural and regional Australians but not everyone's convinced telehealth is a panacea.

I don't want to see an unintentional undermining of local rural services that means that the boon of telehealth doesn't actually produce better health outcomes for people who live in rural areas.

Jenny May

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This story Why this town is booming its way through COVID first appeared on Newcastle Herald.