This study investigated socio-economic impacts of land use change, giving explicit attention to the relationships between independently observed land use change and associated socio-economic changes, perceived land use change and socio-economic change, attributed cause of change, and experienced impacts of change. Using a case study region in south-east Australia, we examined the impacts of growth in use of land for dairy farming, cropping, blue gum plantations and rural residential development on (i) rural population trends, and (ii) the amount and nature of employment available in the study region. Perceptions and impacts of change were assessed using multiple qualitative and quantitative methods. Results demonstrate that local residents were not always aware of the extent and nature of land use change, and had difficulty attributing social changes and their impacts to the land use changes that underlie them. Furthermore, the felt impacts of land use change appeared dependent on a person's awareness of that change, and on their beliefs about the causes of social change. These findings highlight avenues for theoretical development to better specify the processes by which social change processes are experienced as human impacts. The findings also have implications for land use policy and social impact assessment, illustrating the importance of understanding both perceived and actual social change.