When we were homeless unemployed nomads living our gypsy honeymoon, bouncing our way along outback tracks and wondering where ‘home’ would eventually be…we had a bit of a checklist of what this imaginary place would be like. We weren’t overly fussed on location, although close to family and within striking distance of a major centre would be good (we had done our share of remote living and interstate from family) mainly for schools/hospitals for that ‘one day’ family. Our forever home would be in a vibrant and engaged community, one which had likeminded people supporting us. Ideally for me a creative hub of sorts, with people who could inspire, encourage and collaborate, and for Matt a focus on food production, a community with it’s roots deeply planted in agriculture. We hashed out ideas with ag-mates over bottles of wine and brainstormed on kitchen tables, where were we going, what were we building towards, we knew we wouldn’t arrive there yet, stepping stones needed to happen first… We applied for jobs in the Falkland Islands (and very nearly ended up there!) Considered going back north and very remote. Thought of chasing grain and sheep. Spent a year on the Limestone Coast in the sandy hills, growing some good beef, resilience, experience and a tiny seed called Eleanor Joy.
And then, unexpectedly and serendipitously, we landed right back where we started from.
We looked around, having spent almost ten years living away from the rolling Gippsland hills (bar 12 months when we first lived here at Brindabella prior to our wedding in 2010/11), pushed aside the blinkers, and noticed…what we had been looking for was in fact right in front of us. The Gippsland of our childhood was changing, growing, stretching and emerging into a new dawn of creativity, enterprise and humming with vibrancy. Time and distance does wonderful things for perspective. The grass is always greener and all that…until you realise it’s actually green through most of Gippsland (except up East at the moment, where’s the rain Huey?!)
Now, we are surrounded by exactly what we were looking for: likeminded people in an engaged community, close to Melbourne, family, with major regional centres at our finger tips for schools and activities and health care, but still in our tiny rural village based entirely around the planting, growing, harvesting of our produce. We found our place, and our people. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.
All of these thoughts bounced around in my mind as I wandered the Warragul Farmers Market on Saturday with those ‘one day’ children in toe. And when we go to Fiddlesticks on a Friday. And when I shoot down the highway for a day trip to Melbourne. And when I duck into town to the bakery (our only shop) and see five people to chat to about the spud festival stubby holders or the Christmas community night or CFA fundraiser. I make a concerted effort not to take for granted what, and who, we have around us. It really does take a village. We are so very lucky, as are our girls. Hashtag blessed and all that, but I will sing loudly and proudly of our little patch’s praises. Good things are happening all around us, and it feels pretty good to not just be a thread in that tapestry but also be raising little people who will not only benefit from it, but contribute also.
I am a homebody at heart and a nester, I don’t like change or uncertainty, I need to know what we’re doing and where we’re going. So when we were so uncertain and at such loose ends, searching and hoping to find that place we had with the checklist in mind…I felt so uneasy. Adrift in a sea of uncertainty. So, if you are that person – a bit lost, a bit adrift, you have the checklist, the seed of an idea, but you’re not sure where to even begin or how it will all turn out. Trust me: have faith, keep looking, but sometimes not so hard, see the trees in the forest, check to see if the grass is a softer shade of green right where you are standing. There will be bumps and twists and turns, and that’s the whole point. I am so glad that we have lived in a motley assortment of farmhouses, bounced around a few different jobs, in different parts of Australia. It has made all the difference to our feelings of being ‘home’.
And be patient, that is the hardest of all. If you had told me five years ago that we would be living back in Thorpdale, raising our small children here, with so much opportunity and engagement and connection available to us…well I wouldn’t have believed you.
So, what can’t you currently believe?
Whatever it is, or wherever you are: my mantra has always been to bloom where you are planted. The rest will fall into place.