Standing out in a paddock at night trying to get a phone and internet signal isn't exactly Wendy Husband's idea of fun.
But that Taralga district resident's experience two weeks ago as she tried to email an application for her "dream job."
As it happened, the data wouldn't upload, given the poor reception, and she missed the deadline to apply for the Gardening Australia research position.
"I was devastated because I spent hours preparing it," Mrs Husband said.
The natural resources consultant and self-described "crammer" is staying philosophical but highlights the challenges that she, her Curraweela neighbours and many around Taralga face.
"(Despite) the emphasis on remote and rural opportunities I wouldn't be confident of being able to work from home," she said.
"Most of the work we (including zoo consultant husband, Tim) do is online and we don't have enough coverage for data sharing.
"...I don't think it's unrealistic to expect good connectivity. I've spent time in other countries where it's been better. When hiking in Jordan I still had a signal. I think we are behind."
The Husbands spent 12 years overseas, firstly working in Indonesia, then the United Arab Emirates followed by Saudi Arabia. They returned for good in the past nine months to their Curraweela property, some 25km north of Taralga.
Now they're keen to pursue their consultancies but say they feel limited by the digital connectivity. While sometimes one or two bars appear on their phone, on other occasions they're standing out in a paddock or "crouching beside a shipping container" to make calls or access the internet.
4G Telstra towers are located in Taralga and 28km away at Paling Yards. Weather and their farm's topography influence reception. A resident on nearby Snake Gully Road has purchased antennas and boosters to improve connectivity. But Mrs Husband said people shouldn't have to fork out money for the privilege.
"I feel unsafe sometimes because of the reception. We are 3km in from the road," she told The Post.
"You have to make a time to call people. The other day I stood out in the freezing cold to speak to my auntie."
Mrs Husband said she had frequently witnessed Taralga and Crookwell shops lose EFTPOS connections and customers walk out because they didn't have cash.
In Taralga, Telstra was urging older residents having trouble with landlines to purchase mobile phones, which many couldn't use. Some had health complaints.
"I'd like to take this further because I'm blown away by it," Mrs Husband said.
"There are a lot of people moving out here but it shouldn't depend on population. It shouldn't be that we accept bad service because there aren't many people here.
"...There is work we want to continue but we don't need handicaps. That's what I feel we have at the moment."
A few kilometres north, Rob Kane said he used to have "terrible reception" with his mobile phone and his landline didn't work well. He installed boosters, which helped for a while but life changed after Telstra erected the Paling Yards tower.
"The tower goes out two or three times a year but we keep a satellite back-up," he said.
"The tower was good for a while but as more people signed up (to plans) it slowed down. It's hopeless after 5pm when everyone is using it."
His home's higher elevation gives better phone and internet location, but further down, Jerrong Road residents have to "go out to a fence post" to make calls. Mr Kane said the mobile blackspots were dangerous given vehicle accidents on an increasingly busy Oberon Road.
"We're fortunate the tower is there but generally, if you're not in its visual line of site, you're stuffed," he said.
Mr Kane has previously pursued the matter with Hume MP Angus Taylor and Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman.
Mr Taylor said with more people than ever working from home, improved mobile and internet services in regional areas like Upper Lachlan were top priorities for residents.
He cited $105.8 million in federal funding under round two of the Regional Connectivity Program.
"Under round one, Wi-Sky NSW successfully received over $300,000 to provide a fixed wireless network comprising 43 interlinked 'poles' across Upper Lachlan, which will provide a high-speed broadband service to residents," he said in a statement.
"Exact locations are yet to be confirmed, but two interlinked fixed wireless poles will be located at Taralga and two in the Abercrombie region. This will be a game-changer for this region.
"I have met with residents of the Curraweela community on several occasions and recognise the need for improved mobile coverage in this area. I will be pushing for a mobile tower at Curraweela under round six of the government's Mobile Black Spot program."
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