By Hollie Harris
With such a desirable lifestyle here in Noosa, many of us have to think outside of the box to combine career and a Noosa address.
Sunshine Beach father of four, Gary Swanepoel knew he wanted to raise his children here but didn’t want to sacrifice his work life.
Originally from South Africa, Gary moved to Noosa about eight years ago from Brisbane, and with a young family, he began looking for a sustainable approach to work.
Noosa’s large population of quality creative artists and business minds, so many people working on their own from home, and so much vacant commercial space here in Noosa, led Gary toward a new project which would combine all of these elements together.
Working with Carly Reeves and John Hedgman to create a co-working space in Noosa Junction saw their new enterprise Junction2 open its doors two years ago.
“We need a sustainable economy here in Noosa and that’s what we’re working towards,” Gary said.
“We started as just a shared office space, but there is so many small businesses here we are now looking at evolving Junction2 into workshops and incubating these small businesses to grow,” he said.
The Junction2 loft at 24 Lanyana Way is full of light, brimming with the warming scent of fresh coffee beans (the industrial coffee machine turns Noosa Black coffee beans into warm cups of inspiration for members as often they need) and has a gentle hum of activity and energy as members share ideas.
Members come and go as they please, using their desk as a home away from home where ideas come to life and collaborations are born.
“Co-working, you learn so fast around a bunch of other people. Everyone ends up crossing paths and learning from each other,” Gary said.
“Our members are doing great things; they are all legends in their own area. To have access to that kind of network is why co-working is so successful.”
Junction2 is a purpose built co-working space for small and micro business, designed for collaboration and creative thinking. With a range of options from single day hot desking to long-term 24 hour access, it’s a great alternative to working from home.
All the facilities are included such as desks, dedicated high speed broadband, printing, meeting rooms and kitchen; it’s a real-feel workspace with a casual vibe where like-minded folk can be brilliant.
Gary is a front-end web developer by trade and has over 10 years’ experience in the development field.
With a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Technology from QUT, his extensive business skills to support his programming abilities as a marketing and business developer in a variety of industries, have enabled him to succeed in three co-working start-ups.
“I’m a busy guy. Outside of work I’m also involved with a range of other personal projects to assist the support of building creative industries in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast,” Gary said.
On the board of Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance, Zero Emissions, the Noosa Council Business Advisory Board and Innovate Noosa, Gary keeps his finger on the pulse.
“How do we get Noosa on board with creative industries? When we de-amalgamated, it was a big job to keep Noosa surviving.
“We’ve finally proven that we have a successful individual council and it’s time to show what we can do.
“This is about a balance with lifestyle and work life and I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my work life to live the lifestyle I want and I think we can achieve that by stimulating small business here in Noosa.”
Gary is one of those people whose mind is constantly ticking over new ideas. His passion for creating a place for business here in Noosa is palpable.
“I want to create a thriving little hub in Noosa. There are a lot of great ideas here. We have an aging population and most young people are finishing school and moving off. If we don’t diversify the industry here, we will be in trouble.
As a busy father of four young children under six, Gary works hard to maintain this great Noosa lifestyle while balancing a busy working life.
“My wife is the real hero out of all of this. Libby works as a lecturer at the University and she manages to do most of the work with our children as well as her job, she’s amazing.”
“I have the children to myself one day a week and we call on their grandparents too, but it can be quite a juggle.
“My primary work is web development and I run my own business, Pixel Pixel. Co-working started out with us trying to get some office space for ourselves and it just worked so well.
With so many creative minds in Noosa, Gary and his partners want to take co-working to a whole new level. They are working toward branching into workshops and incubating new business to help stimulate our regions business sector.
“This is the first step in what Noosa is leaning towards. For business to survive here in Noosa, we need more sustainable businesses here.
“The next generation are going to be creating the job titles. At the moment, we have a massive exodus out of high school where these talented kids are leaving the area. We want to get a program in place to encourage kids coming out of school to think of Noosa as a potential hub of business.
“I am passionate about creating industry and diversifying Noosa economy. There is no reason why Noosa can’t be a centre for innovation. We live in a biosphere. We don’t want this place to be a Maroochydore or Gold Coast but we do want to create sustainable business,” he said.