I occasionally reflect and marvel at the seemingly loose threads and innocent happenings in daily life, which, in reality, shape the future more than can ever be sensed or even imagined at the time.
Twenty years ago, I had been living in Sydney for 7 years and had not ventured further south than Kiama. Purely by chance, while a friend and I were visiting her parents in Jindabyne, we drove to the Far South Coast to inspect the rather ramshackle farm they had just purchased. I instantly fell in love with the area; and a seed was planted. Germination occurred when chatting to my closest friend back in Sydney; we soon borrowed my flat-mate’s car for a weekend to further explore the area. Linda was keen to get out of the city and to be closer to her family in Victoria, we considered possibly moving to the area “some day” and believed (and subsequently proved) we were firm enough friends to purchase a property together.
We were thoroughly impressed by the personal service of the attentive real estate agents who happily chauffeured us to view many properties that weekend- they were so happy to give us lots of time and individual attention, even though we insisted we were “just looking” for now. With hindsight, we were young, attractive women and they were all males! Exploring a little more by ourselves, just prior to returning to Sydney, we happened upon a road which I strongly felt we should drive down. Shortly afterwards, a roadside “For Sale” sign compelled me to stop and really, really want to see the property, which was up a hill at the end of a lane and totally out of sight to us from the road. Linda insisted we had to have an appointment and couldn’t just “rock up”. I compromised by parking the car half way up the driveway and we started to walk the rest of the way, to take a peek. Almost at the top of the hill we heard a car pull into the driveway and just knew we had blocked the homeowner’s return. Most embarrassed, we raced down to apologize and explain our mad action. Convivial country hospitality once again ensued and we were shown the home – and its absolutely stunning view.
Three months later, and not without a whole bundle of other stories, roots were established when we moved in. We named the property “Larkandine” (an anagram of “Linda” and “Karen”). My partner, Stan, insisted we didn’t change it when he bought Linda’s share of the property a few years later; it just seems to fit it. Linda met the man of her heart within a month of moving to the area, and a couple of years later they married and she moved into his home, just down the hill a bit.
I was always a real city girl and loved to move house every couple of years. I moved from Kings Cross to Nethercote and can hardly believe I have been at the same address for 20 years now, in a locality of around 400 people. It’s that view though – whatever time of day, whatever time of year, it is spellbinding. It still makes me catch my breath sometimes and evoke a sense of calm. Morning mists fill the valley, giving the impression there’s an enormous lake out front, while the surround-sound birdsong choruses are enchanting. The vista reaches for around 20 kilometers; sunrises and sunsets display their cacophony of colour between and above the mountains of the horizon.
Although I can happily stay home for days on end, especially having spent much of the last 20 years overseas, I realized about 10 years ago that I knew few people in the locality. Having no shops or facilities apart from the Rural Fire Brigade shed, it can be difficult to meet other Nethercotians. I decided to “branch out” and get involved with the then recently reformed residents’ association, a very small group, whose agenda was to attempt to resurrect the community hall, originally opened in 1910. It had fallen into disrepair in the 1970s and was, by then, barely a shell. Following intensive fundraising activities, together with dedicated volunteer labour and some grant funding, the hall is now “open for business” once again. It is a beautiful building. However, there was another kind of building happening during the last 10 years or so, which I believe was even more important than the physical re-building. During the fundraising activities and subsequent working bees to rebuild, local people got to know each other, friendships were made, children played and looked out for each other – a community was built. I am very proud to be part of our amazing community and my children already appreciate they have been fortunate to grow up in the special area of Nethercote.