$1 Rentals

Reporter: Bryan Seymour

The worsening economic crisis has prompted Kevin Rudd to call for a new world order and these families are living it. When a tiny country town offered empty homes to rent for a dollar a week, they hoped it might help stave off extinction, at least for a while.

The response has been nothing short of a boom for the residents.

Out here the bust is dust. They're already back in boomtown.

"They've come from all walks of life, they've come from as far as Perth, New Zealand, Melbourne, Sydney, closer to here is Katoomba, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Orange, so it's been all over the place" says Christine.

Welcome to the mild west of NSW where the tiny town of Cumnock, almost extinct this time last year.

...is now booming, its streets paved with gold.

"15 new families and 65 new people in our town, so the population has increased by 15%" says Christine.

Cumnock local Christine Weston came up with the idea. Offer empty farmhouses to rent for a dollar a week. Three months probation to see if it suits. The lease locked in for three years. The town got ten times the applications it called for.

"…and also bringing lots of different skills, I mean we now have an electrician and a mechanical plumber, we've got skills that our little town didn't have before or perhaps had many years ago but lost" adds Christine.

Credit crunched businesses are re-opening to serve new customers. Like Steve Phillips, his wife and their six children.

"We came out and stayed in the pub for a week first. We were quite welcomed and they had a bbq to meet all the families over the Australia day weekend, the pub put on a really good bash. We had a great time" said Steve.

But what about the kids, starting school and under siege with bullying, text message mania and those blackboard blues?

"Yes, yes it's been great, it's been a hive of activity the first few days of school for 2009 and all the kids seem to be getting along famously and having a really good time." Comnock school principal Steve Macallister watched enrolments increase by half to 60 students. Suddenly he has an extra classroom, a new teacher and...

"Many of the new students have younger siblings too so it looks good for a long term projection for the school's numbers as well so we should be able to maintain our levels for some time now."

Local Louise Spicer took over running the school bus not long ago. Now she's in trouble. "I didn't realise that, yeah, we'd want a bigger bus sort of straight away."

Councillor Grame Smith has watched with delight and amazement, the town's rebirth. "I think it's a great model that could be applied elsewhere in country NSW."

While the town shares the credit, everyone says it deserves to go to their guardian angel.

"But without Christine, she's marvellous, she helps everybody."

"We started with four houses and we ended up filling up fifteen houses" says Christine.

"and I think there's more coming" adds Lousie.

She's right, another family with six kids will settle here next week. When this town urged Australia to 'Cumnocking' it started something with a host of other towns planning to follow their lead.

So, if you're sick of the city, saddle up...

And we're told the town's pre-school is also thriving with an extra five kids enrolled, we know you'll all join us in wishing everyone in Cumnock, good luck.