Names have been changed to protect identities, but we hope that if any of these kind, generous, warm people should read this one day, that they will smile and know that we are grateful to them. With thanks xx
It’s been a month since we hit the road on Our Global Adventure. We’re travelling slow, and trying to integrate into the communities that we live in as we make our way around the planet. We decided to begin Our Global Adventure not too far from home, two days drive away, in southern New South Wales. Our family has been housesitting in the beautiful Bega Valley, which we have been exploring, along with the Sapphire Coast. This has turned out the be a stunning corner of the country; rolling hills, forests and bushland, and a jaw-dropping gorgeous coastline, but even more than the scenery, it’s been the ordinary Australians that we’ve met who are inspiring us the most.
Geoff and Lizzy own the house that we are sitting for three and a half months. They greeted us with a hug like old friends at our very first meeting. Their property is an eco-friendly sanctuary in the bush that they are excited to share with others. They’ve created a home from recycled materials and mud bricks that leaves a small footprint on the earth. It is north facing with solar energy, wood fire heating, and it’s own water supply. The toilet is a water-free composting toilet, and any water used inside the house is drained out to the garden. Their permaculture vegetable patch and orchard is large. It utilises their compost and worm farm, whilst keeping them healthy with seasonal fresh produce. Geoff and Lizzy have created a place so peaceful, friendly and welcoming that the abundant wildlife comes in close to the house to drink from the many water containers that have been left for them. In turn the Wallabies and Wombats keep the lawn mown and well fertilised as they feed. Living here is showing us a way of life that is better for us and the planet.
But it’s not just the house and garden that are inspiring us to live better. Geoff and Lizzy have travelled the world extensively. Their home is full of trinkets and souvenirs from a lifetime of travel. Every surface is covered in mementos collected from Asia, South America, Europe and Australia. They’ve walked the Camino in Spain, lived in Papua New Guinea and in Lighthouses, explored Thailand, Mexico, Scotland and so much more. Their bookshelves are full of travel books, books on sustainable living, spirituality and stories to nourish the soul. Geoff and Lizzy’s home tells a story, and it’s one which they generously share with housesitters like us regularly when they head off on their own latest adventure. Right now they are spending three months in America meeting their newest grandchild, and playing with her big sister.
We’ve met some of the neighbours. Tom and Sarah are friends to Geoff and Lizzy. They’ve popped in to meet us and stayed for morning tea a couple of times. Friendly conversation with them is easy, they know the Bega Valley well and are knowledgeable about the area and this way of life so different from our old one in the suburbs. Tom and Sarah have offered us assistance should we run into difficulties on the property, but also friendship should we begin to feel lonely in our rural setting. They also believe in eco-friendly sustainable living, in a way, which like many country people, is just a way of life not a conservationist movement.
Then there’s the family over on the coast, Jack and Shelly with their two kids. We’ve helped them out with an environmental project on their property a couple of times now. They’ve shared their skills and knowledge with us, not to mention their stunning coastal property. Their overwhelming generosity making us feel like we didn’t have enough to offer in return, but they never made us feel that way. In fact the more we get to know them, the more they share with us of their lives as well. They’ve invited us to meals to meet their friends and family as well, not like we were the circus act, (the crazy folks from Adelaide who quit their jobs in a fit of madness) but because they think that their circle will be interested in our story as well. Jack and Shelly have been understanding and supportive of the lifestyle we’ve switched to, they haven’t called us crazy because they know how it feels to purposefully live with less for a life of freedom. From them we’ve learnt how a model of labour exchanged for accommodation not only works, it’s a win for everyone involved and the most wonderful way to expand our network of likeminded people.
Jack and Shelly surround themselves with the most interesting and inspiring friends as well. Like the American Dave and his Australian wife Toni. They have two young children, their oldest, now only four has travelled with them on their catamaran from Mexico to Fiji. The three of them lived on the boat for a couple of years, sailing in the Sea of Cortez before making their big crossing. Dave and Toni are laying low at the moment on dry land since the birth of their second child just a few weeks ago. They loved their life of freedom, and speak with fondness of their adventures on the high sea. They’re interested in homeschooling their children because they recognise how this allows for regular travel and opportunities to learn from life rather than a curriculum. Dave and Toni are inspiring us to consider even bigger adventures, and sparking ideas for destinations and modes of travel that we hadn’t even thought of before. In fact, all of Jack and Shelly’s friends seem to have an interesting story to tell. Over a Sunday lunch we met folks who are widely travelled and living alternate lifestyles to the suburban white picket fence. They were all kind, friendly and very welcoming.
The thing is, it’s not just the ordinary Australians that we have broken bread with who are inspiring us. Every time we go to the Supermarket, people chat to us in the fresh produce section or whilst lining up at the check-out. In coffee shops the locals are friendly and smiling. Is it just that the country residents here in the Bega Valley are incredibly friendly, or are we giving off a friendlier air ourselves? Now that we’ve got time on our hands, less stress, and nowhere to be, do we seem more approachable? Perhaps a family grocery shopping together or sitting in a coffee shop on a weekday is just an unusual site that gives us away as not being either local, or living the ordinary 9-5 life. Whatever it is, every encounter with the locals here in the Bega Valley and along the Sapphire Coast has been delightful. Just one month into Our Global Adventure we are already feeling inspired and reassured that this is exactly what we’re meant to be doing.