These first pictures of the children in the waves were taken yesterday afternoon during a day trip to our closest beach, where even though it is mid winter it was a sunny seventeen degrees. Back at the top of the mountain, it was a different story. This morning we woke up to snowflakes, and by mid morning there was enough for snowman building. After a long excited session of snow play we settled into some craft and hot cocoa by the fire, as all the while the snowflakes fell outside.
When we made the momentous decision five years ago to leave northern Australia and make our home here, foremost in our minds was the desire to give our increasing tribe of children a stable home and an opportunity to grow up with unlimited access to the natural environment. One of the reasons we chose this particular location, in addition to its beautiful high country bush setting, was because it is situated within easy reach of the mostly unpopulated south coast, as well as the highest peaks and skifields of the Snowy Mountains. In addition, it is an easy two hour trip to Canberra, which has an international airport for John to fly in and out of, and anything else one might want or need of a city. And sometimes we do, consciously, take the kids to an exhibition at the gallery or a show at the theatre, visit city friends or shop for new pairs of shoes for growing feet.
There are challenges entailed in living in the bush and owning your own rural property. In the winter we are collecting, splitting and hauling endless firewood, and in the summer our vast garden requires endless mowing and weeding (and vigilance for snakes). We collect and store rain water for domestic use and pump up from the dam for watering the garden – something which makes us all very water aware. There are animals and stock to be fed and watered and checked, and many kilometres of fences to maintain, even when John is overseas. We have to take our own rubbish and recycling to the tip, and we are always running out of milk – not so easy pick some up when our closest supermarket (and all kids extracurricular activities) is a 50km trip away.
In spite of having to navigate these, and other, daily challenges, we would not swap our life here for one more urban. We have the good fortune to be surrounded by and live within this incredibly beautiful country – and have easy access to a range of other fantastic locations. Our children have grown up (mostly) here and have forged their own intimate, evolving relationship with the forms and features of this landscape. While we may not have access to the amenities of town/city life, the quality of life our family experiences would be difficult to match if we were to move elsewhere. What factors do you prioritise in deciding on an ideal location for a home? Why do you live where you live?