In 2012, my lifelong dream of living in the country became a reality. My husband and I relocated from the Gold Coast where I was born and bred, to Cohuna; a picturesque dairy town located in North Central Victoria. Many of the locals were dumbfounded as to why we would leave the Gold Coast for rural Victoria, however my grandparents had been dairy farmers and first settlers nearby, so the region held fond memories for me. Memories of horse riding along irrigation channels, creamy milk scooped straight from the vat and the earthy scent of my grandparents in the dairy.
Seven years have passed and each year I fall more in love with our rural lifestyle and the beautiful community that has embraced us. On a recent drive along the long, straight roads of northern Victoria I contemplated what it was that made me feel so fulfilled with our country lifestyle and I believe it has a lot to do with feelings of ‘connectedness’.
Firstly, I feel connected to my heritage. While my mum made the move north to the Gold Coast when she was a young adult, my great grandparents were pioneers in northern Victoria and so farming is deeply ingrained in my family history within this region. Sadly, my grandparents had passed by the time we had relocated to Victoria, but I know that they would have been so proud that both my sister and I have chosen lives on the farm in Victoria.
As my husband and I carved out our own path in Cohuna, we ventured in to dairy goats. While our farm is just a fraction of the size of our neighbours', there is a really wholesome sense of connectedness to the land and our beautiful country that comes with being a part of the basic necessity of food production. When your daily life and income is directly impacted by the seasons, the weather, the soil, the bugs, the grass… the earth becomes more of a part of you and it truly feels like ‘putting down roots’. The vast landscape and ruggedness takes on a different meaning when you view it not only as beautiful scenery but also as an essential cycle of life and food.
Perhaps surprisingly, as Shayne and I were not very social on the Gold Coast, we have thrived in the real sense of connectedness to our community in Cohuna. The community spirit in small country towns is kind of like a hidden fairy door… you don’t know it’s there or what it feels like until you open the door and enter. Since living in Cohuna we have found that it is full of down to earth, genuine people and we are so proud to call many of them true friends. There are different friendship groups, all who offer so much and whom we treasure dearly. There are the friends that I love horseriding in the bush with as we enjoy vibrant catch-ups while meandering through the forest. There are friends whom are fellow entrepreneurs and 'lady startups' who are always quick to support each other and applaud each other's success. There are friends who you have over for slow cooked BBQ tea (it’s not called dinner here) and it’s perfectly acceptable to wear track pants and Ugg boots while you laugh together over a bottle of wine and bond over the shared struggles and triumphs of rural life. But the true sense of community in a small country town really shines bright in the tough times. In remote areas where people’s livelihoods depend on the land, the tough times can be devastating and the only way through is with the support of the community. This is when those who are already doing it tough give up something to help those who are even worse off. The community rallies to help in any way they can and to make sure that no one feels they are alone.
My final thought on why country life is so fulfilling is that it has enabled me to find a connection to myself. A blank slate with exciting new opportunities left me feeling open to exploring new passions and finding out what would bring me personal satisfaction. My creativity found an outlet in soap making and as my hobby developed into a business, I found great personal reward in creating something from the ground up. Our local community has been so very supportive of both mine and my husband’s business ventures and for that we are truly grateful. It has given us the opportunity to find ourselves and do what we are passionate about in a place that we love.