Abstract: Major changes in personal mobility and in country town service provision have taken place in rural South Australia in the period 1968–69 to 1992–93. The later part of this period was one of major rural recession across Australia as a whole. The impact of this recession is considered by investigating changes in three different geographies of rural South Australians. These are their affective identification with place, their local social interaction and their commercial service consumption. There has been a shift of both commercial and social activity up through the hierarchy of settlement, but this is much more pronounced in the case of commercial activity. These differential rates of change are weakening the once mutually reinforcing links between community self-identification, social interaction and trading patterns. The full impact of the rural crisis commencing in 1982–83 on social and commercial spatial patterns is unlikely to have been achieved by 1992–93, and adjustment is likely to continue.