Country property





As you may or may not know, it has long been the dream (I would call it “the plan”) to live in the country once the kids have grown up and gone their own way. Living in the inner west of Sydney, is lovely, and we have certainly made the most of the restaurants and cafes but the inner city lifestyle can be wearing.

My job has afforded me the luxury of criss-crossing the state visiting Bowling clubs so that has allowed me to see many of the hidden away corners. I fell in love with the East Gresford, Allynbrook, Dungog area about four years ago.

After years of doing what Anna calls “Property porn” (which I call “research”) keeping a close eye on all the property that comes to the market in the area we liked, and doing the occasional “reccy” we have finally found something. I’m no farmer so finding land that you can’t seriously farm can be a challenge, particularly as Anna’s leading stipulation was not being able to see the neighbours. We had plenty of other items on the checklist and though no property was ever going to tick all the boxes, this one comes pretty close.

Bingleburra Rd Sugarloaf (which sounds completely made up) is 6 minutes outside beautiful Dungog. The town has a hospital and a train station which means it is accessible by train from Sydney. It is 3 hours door to door, which of course real estate agents say is 2.5 hours from Sydney (meaning Hornsby). The town is well-known for the Dungog film festival (which is no more) and iconic test cricketer Doug Walters.

Barjol Sth (as it is to be named) is 159 acres, pretty hilly, about 50% cleared, with 4 small dams and two deep gullies. The road forms one of its boundaries and the property is shaped a little like a cashew. We wont be building on it for a while (maybe a few years) but we have a really interesting local architect (here in Alexandria) keen to be a part of the project.

The views both north-east and south-west are amazing, with the Barrington tops just a few Kilometres away, the property is often tucked up in the clouds and it snows most years. (albeit for a day or two) It is pretty much as far north as it regularly snows in Australia. This is kind of ironic as the reason I concentrated my property search north of Sydney and not south was all about temperature.

We are pretty excited about the future, we realise the purchase means that we will be poor for a while, but that’s ok. As I said, I am no farmer. I’m a city boy, I am going to struggle with killing anything. I guess I will learn, as I am completely aware that sometimes killing is the humane outcome. The aim is to live completely off the grid. Or at the very least to reduce the footprint my past 30 years in Alexandria has caused.

Bring it on!

The wicked wand that is the Selfie-stick

I have never been more envious of anybody than when my gorgeous cousin recently asked “what’s a selfie stick?” Though I suppose I should not have been too surprised that the ridiculous emblem of self absorption had not permeated the farthest corners of verte-provence in country France, I was none-the-less envious.

Stick-wielding, and often stick-waving, self absorbed tourists had just recently ruined my first and long awaited visit to Florence, had annoyed me to distraction in Venice and really pissed me off in Berlin. Don’t get me wrong I love a good photo. In fact my bride is a demon for a tourist photo, for which I am eternally grateful (once I have gone through them all and deleted the ones I do not like, that I am in i.e. all of the photos I am in, or at the very least photoshopped myself out of them.)

Though the selfie sticks are almost exclusively the domain of the young traveller, they are even more dangerous and annoying in the hands of the older generation as they waive them around causing a comical reverse Mexican waive as people duck to avoid being hit by a phone on the end of a rotating wand.

Have we truly arrived at a place and time in history that requires us to take a photo of us smiling in front of everything we pass? Throughout my recent, first and much anticipated visit to Europe, barely a bridge, statue, river, mountain, building, causeway, shop, car, bus or mound of litter went by without someone thinking it would make the perfect backdrop for a photo and then raising their wand and twisting their face into a photo smile as they glanced self admiringly into their phone.

Me me me, it has now become all about me. How do I look in front of this, or how happy am I blocking the view of this? and how good did I look standing on that?

If roller blades go down in history as “of their era” then sadly the Selfie stick may be the emblem of 2015. It doesn’t make for a very pretty picture of us.