The other day I met a man, who with his partner had recently moved into our district. They had both grown up in Melbourne and had lived most of their married life living in inner Melbourne, in an apartment. Firstly, they were just going to stay on weekends and mini breaks, but very quickly became enamored with country living and moved out full time. He was almost evangelistic about his new home. Not the house but the countryside, the views, the sounds, the smells…and it was all free to look at and enjoy. He wasn’t even deterred when I pointed out that he was talking to the converted! But it did get me thinking about country living. Having lived and worked in the Golden Plains Shire for 25 years, with our smallest home being on ½ acre and now 700, do I take living in the country for granted? I certainly still have the deepest appreciation for our environment. Mother Earth certainly makes sure of that with each season! Seeing flash floods stream down the road and paddocks under water, windstorms that raise the dust, the shimmering summer sun, also magnificent sunrises and sunsets that can take your breath away.
The lack of traffic lights, dodging a flock of sheep or sitting behind a slow-moving tractor, trees not high-rise buildings, paddocks not industrial warehouses all remind us we live in the country. But despite the lifestyle being simple and peaceful, there are trade-offs that need to be made: Whether they catch the bus or get taken in by car, country school-age kids are faced with longer journeys to school. Wi-Fi and television can be limited. Especially if on mobile data service only. Shopping can become inconvenient and needs planning – but that can also be a good thing. The roads may not be in the best condition and let’s be honest they are not as well looked after as urban roads!! Entertainment and places to eat out maybe limited to two pubs and couple of cafés unless prepared to travel further- but having said that who can afford to go out so regularly that this is an issue? They say that anxiety and depression can be linked to lack of social connectedness therefore how nice is it to walk into the café or pub and to be greeted by name and be able to catch up on town news with others over a cuppa or a beer.
You most definitely need a car or two as there is not a local taxi and an once day in /out bus service. On the upside, and I am probably biased here, living in a country town or on land surrounding it is a very rewarding way of living. You will have a larger garden, so able to become self-reliant by growing your own food or have more space to own animals you may have always wanted, such as horses, chickens, sheep, goats & ducks The air is cleaner in the country except at paddock fertilising time! You have the opportunity to become part of a community, and I would highly recommend that you do, isn’t that part of why we live in a country town? Yes, we are all busy (read previous column for my thoughts on that!) yes simple country living is busy but shouldn’t some of that business benefits our small community? Get involved. The all small towns needs residents to be involved in the town’s community . There are always many groups crying out for new members. Yes, you will have to deal with some of “that’s how we have always done it “ but shouldn’t old and new members work together to benefit the greater good – a strong resilient community. Joining a group or committee is the best way to become part of the community, the CFA, Hall committee, school, church, history group, sports groups, newsletter, Lions club, local produce swap to name an few.
All in all, you will feel better being part of a small community, look at going to meetings as not something else to be done – an obligation , but as a way to have chat and laugh, to get involved in the bigger picture of something that makes your heart sing . Take it from us your sense of self can’t help but be more positive , when being mindful of the weather, listening to country sounds, enjoying each season and of course being active in the community, these all remind us of why we live in a country town….where everyone you drive past waves, even if you don’t know them.