Tree change 16/1/2010
Writing this I now find myself some distance from where I was just a month ago, which now looking back, feels like it was in another life...
Sydney, while a great place to live as a younger bloke where chasing pretty girls in nightclubs was as good as life ever gets, was just not doing it for me over the last few years. As time went on I started feeling there must be more to life, and by more, it actually turned out that what I wanted was less. Less noise, less crowds, less traffic, less graffiti.... These feelings resulted in us initiating what has been the greatest change, perhaps even greatest "gamble" that our family have ever taken.
So about 1-1/2 years ago we decided to get the ball rolling and get out of Sydney. Our local neighbourhood had its share of issues which was giving a subtle yet encouraging push in the opposite direction. My initial urge was to go total hillbilly, live somewhere deep in the bush and sell my teeth on eBay (or something similar) to make a living. I did the numbers and realised that my supply of teeth would quickly run out and that a plan that was not so extreme and perhaps a little more practical was required.
The wife and I started talking and looking seriously for somewhere to start a new life. We decided somewhere close to a major town and education for the kids was important, obviously I needed to keep working so potential for employment was a must, we needed to find something within our budget and we liked the idea of being within 30 minutes from a beach. The search started and after 6 months of looking we purchased a few acres in Wauchope (about 25 minutes from Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast in NSW), or roughly 400km's from our home in Sydney. We chose a design for a new home and buckled down so we could actually afford it over the next 12 months while it was being built.
The big day arrived and a removalist truck pulls into our street on the 17th of December 2009, which by the way was something like a 42 degree day. Unfortunately not everything fit in the truck which was a huge hassle with the added bonus of a second yet equally expensive truck being required to haul all our crap away.
Pulling out the driveway of our old home should have been upsetting, we had lived there for 15 years and started and raised our young family there. It was full of good times with very few bad ones, but I was strangely unmoved. I don't think I even turned my head to look back.
5 hours later with my old car now full of dog hair from a confused long haired restless canine (that had no idea what was going on), I pulled into the driveway of my new home. My wife was driving the kids in her car and was about an hour behind (kids need to eat and require toilet stops, Dad doesn't).
The first thing I appreciated was the sound. Birds.... birds everywhere. It was immediately pleasant and despite the long drive I felt amazingly fresh. I walked the dog around the backyard a few times taking in the new smells and sounds until my wife arrived with a couple of equally excited kids even despite their Nintendo's having flat batteries after the long drive.
The first night in the new home was an early one. The removalist was not scheduled to arrive until the following day, we had no beds, no TV, no cold food... It was like camping but with less beer and no fire.
So anyway... Skip forward almost a month and the reality is sinking in that this is our new life. While I don't start my new job until February 1st and we are all still in holiday mode, I can already tell that this was a good choice. We have spotted two kangaroos in our backyard since getting here and while I play it cool when faced with such an unfamiliar occurrence, I am buzzing inside like a little kid at the sight of wildlife. At night it is actually noisier than my old home, but the air is filled with the sound of crickets and frogs from a pond at the back of our land, it's not an offensive irritating noise.... It is a pleasant relaxing sound and nice way to fall asleep, I haven't slept so easy or this well in years.
The night sky here is simply bloody amazing. For the most part people into rocketry are also usually fascinated with all things space and I do fall into this category. I had really forgotten what a clear black sky looks like. I swear with my dismal eyesight there must still be 100 times more stars than from my backyard in Sydney, it is spectacular and every night the sky here leaves me simply amazed. You only have to go outside at night and look up for 5 minutes to see a shooting star and I don't ever remember seeing a single one from the city despite looking up most nights for decades. I have wanted a telescope for years and suspect this might be on the cards sometime sooner rather than later.
What do I miss? Not much at this stage. I haven't found a Sushi bar within a 100km radius, that's not good.... The radio stations here don't play my preferred music but I will get used to them (even though I flatly refuse to ever make the slightest effort to appreciate country music played on some of the stations). It's a long drive when you run out of milk and if my old car ever dies I will be in trouble because getting around without one would be near impossible, Rocketry here is non-existent and I will miss my local NSWRA club and flying on a regular basis, but all said and done - I am ready for the next chapter and feel the most alive I have felt in years.