After three and a half months in rural New South Wales, it’s hard to believe that we’ve only three days left of our housesitting assignment. This has been the first leg of Our Global Adventure since selling our home, belongings and business and quitting jobs and school to travel the world with our children. In terms of ‘world travel’ we didn’t actually go that far. The eco-friendly, off grid house that we have been living in, is in fact only about 1400km from our Adelaide suburban home. However, the differences between the two are enormous, and living here has been the therapy that we were looking for – Just what the doctor ordered…
So why did we decide to start our adventure right here in Australia, a country notorious as an expensive travel destination, and surely not all that ‘adventurous’ for an Aussie family? Well, mostly we were just looking for somewhere to chill out. The lead up to our departure from Adelaide was one of the most stressful periods of our lives. For 12 months we were frantically trying to sell as much as we could to pay off our debt and free our family from our financial traps. After 16 years of marriage and two children this was no easy feat. Our sprawling suburban family home was bursting at the gills with stuff. So much stuff that many, many times we contemplated just walking away from it all. The task of sorting, advertising and selling it all was very overwhelming, but bit by bit we did it.
Selling our house and business turned out to be incredibly stressful as well. We had started the business 3 years earlier, and I loved the staff that I had working for me, and the interactions that I had with my customers. But the long hours that I was working were taking their toll. I was extremely emotionally attached to our business, and when the sale to the new owners did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped for, it marked a real low point in the year. Luckily, our house was sold to a lovely new owner, (who even agreed to keep our cat!) but it took an agonising nine months until we were finally done and settled. Simon was the champion dad through it all, still working his job right up to a week before we left. After all those months of selling, selling, selling, in a way, we just wanted to hide somewhere for a while. We needed to have some special family time where nobody knew us, but where things would still be familiar and easy. The solution was definitely to stay in Australia for a few months, and this was made affordable through housesitting.
We purposely looked for a housesit in southern New South Wales close to the coast. It was a corner of the country that we had not seen before on our many road trips north to Queensland, and we were keen to fill in the blank between Melbourne and Sydney this time. When we were planning our escape, November last year, another Australian family the Makepeace’s from Ytravel Blog were making their way along the New South Wales coast. Their stunning photographs of the south eastern corner of the state must have left quite an impression! We also really wanted a rural location. Our children had only ever grown up in the suburbs in Adelaide. It was important to us that they had a quintessential Australian experience of the bush with it’s Kangaroos and Wallabies, and with the coast nearby as well. The Bega Valley and nearby Sapphire Coast offered us all that and more.
Not only have Simon and I been able to unwind here in our bush setting, where there is nothing but peace and quiet (except Oscar’s rambunctious playing of course!) but we have also been able to get our health in check. We’ve been exercising regularly, walking and exploring, and eating healthy straight out of the vege patch. The kids and Simon are what I’d call ‘almost vegetarians’ now joining me in a plethora of healthy salads, soups and wholesome vegetarian dishes. Simon has lost lots of weight in just three months and all of us are feeling incredibly healthy and energetic.
Being here at the tail end of winter into spring has also meant that we have experienced fantastic weather, perfect for outdoor activities. We’ve been able to play in the snow, as well as enjoy the warm sunshine whilst at the beach or trekking up mountains.
The property that we have been housesitting could not have been more perfect. Not only were the children seeing wildlife up close every day and playing outside more, but they’ve also learnt to live in a smaller space. They’ve been sharing a room, and we’ve all been sharing one small living area. Unlike our home in Adelaide, the little house had nowhere for us to escape to, and they are learning to be more tolerant of each other. Living here, ‘off the grid’ has also taught us that there is a more environmentally friendly way to live that’s good for the planet and the family budget. We’ve all learnt to use power and water sparingly and have benefitted from harvesting vegetables from the garden. This lifestyle will always be there as a reminder to us that we don’t need to live in a large house with its large utility bills.
Three months has been the perfect amount of time to really explore an area, and get to know some fabulous people as well. We have realised that this will be an important facet to our travel experiences in the future. The new friends that we have made here have welcomed us into their homes and their community, and shared amazing local knowledge with us as well. Without their guidance we would never have caught a fish in the local dam, learnt to kayak, or driven an incredible road trip over the Snowy Mountains. We’ve also met with other travelling families, giving our kids opportunities to play together, but also a chance for us to feel reassured that we’re not alone in our quest for a new and better lifestyle design for our families.
Highlights of the area that we have enjoyed visiting, have been Tanja Lagoon Camp, the snow at Thredbo, our Snowy Mountains road trip, and local coastal towns like Bermagui, Merimbula and Pambula. We have climbed up Mt Gulaga, and driven to the top of Peak Alone. We have fished and kayaked on the Brogo Dam and enjoyed yummy cheese from Tilba. Last but not least, the abundance of Australian wildlife here has been beyond all our expectations, (except maybe the ticks!). Yes, we’ve really fallen in love with the south eastern corner of New South Wales. Not only do we highly recommend it as a travel destination, Simon, Lucy, Oscar and I, also know that we’ll be taking the most wonderful memories away from this very special place next week.
…What’s next? Stay tuned for a couple of weeks on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and then we’re off to Ireland!