Well over five years ago, we finally became tired of city life and started a search for a place in the country, to get away from the Rat Race. Our once ‘rural’ suburb, was now a boiling and roiling sea of humanity, and it was just getting worse every year. We started to look at all the possible options and constantly kept a lookout for opportunities in rural townships. Then, two and a half years ago, we found a small country town that was only an hour and a half from Melbourne (but seemed like a world away), was close to family and had relatively easy access to major services and facilities. It was time to say ‘Goodbye, City Life’ and hello Mirboo North, so green acres here we are; well, it isn’t quite Greenacres and the locals are a tad more sophisticated than those you’d find in Hooterville.
Moving did mean saying farewell to many friends, but it wasn’t as if we had moved interstate or overseas, so seeing them wasn’t impossible, but it became less frequent. That said, we do keep in touch and get together reasonably often, especially as a group, which we’ve been doing for more than a decade. However, it’s ironic that being the one who was city born and bred, I’ve adjusted to country life like a pig in slops; whereas, my wife, who is country born and bred, has missed the city life somewhat. Mind you, I don’t think either of us miss the noise, traffic, rude people and endless development, and where wandering cats and Mynah birds constitute the only wildlife.
Our two hounds also took a while to acclimatise to the much bigger back yard, the bush environment and wildlife that regularly visits the property. Eventually though, they settled in just fine. Notwithstanding, they are ever vigilant for any intruders, especially King Parrots, daring to enter their domain.
Now of course it’s not all milk and honey living in the country, as you do give up some things that are more readily available in the city and suburbs. Shopping choices can be somewhat limited and I personally miss all the Asian food stores (of which there are none anywhere in the area) and the supermarkets often fall short (try getting 20kg bags of Basmati rice anywhere around here). Nor are there many Asian restaurants within easy reach, though a pretty good Indian and very good Thai restaurant have recently opened up 26km away. That’s not as bad as it sounds, as it only takes you about 15 mins to get there, as there is minimal traffic, no traffic lights and it’s a virtual straight run. Try doing that anywhere in Melbourne!
The cost of living can also be higher in some respects, as you don’t have the population to provide for a lot of the infrastructure taken for granted in the city and suburbs. For example, as I pointed out in another post, you have less choice when it comes to winter heating options. One thing that has been an utter pain, however, is the amount of leaves and branches that our trees drop every day. The first year or so was unbelievable and it was so intense, that we bought a petrol powered shredder/mulcher, in order to cope with the build-up. There was an option to take garden waste to the tip for free and people could buy cheap mulch from the tip, but then the council decided to reverse that and made you pay for depositing green waste, while offering it for free. Burning has also been banned. So the mulcher became doubly valuable, considering that one of my trailer loads would have cost around $70 and, at the end of the day, we get some pretty good mulch for the garden.
Then there are the trees themselves. I really love the fact that we have a property with plenty of trees that support and encourage wildlife to a large extent, but with it comes some concerns regarding safety of life and property. We’ve been well aware about the risks of falling branches, most of which come down like spears hurled by the gods and embed themselves several inches into the ground at the very least, sometimes making it appear as if a new tree has sprouted overnight. However, this week we had the most violent winds we’ve ever experienced, at any previous time or place, and what a wild and woolly day it was. Our neighbour fared quite poorly, with a substantial tree blowing down and bringing down other trees as it fell, and it was much the same story throughout the area. Downed trees are a pretty common thing in this neck of the woods.
The final thing that marks a significant difference between the country and city are the jobs, or lack of them. While the state government has for years been encouraging people to move to rural areas and, even though South Gippsland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Victoria, there really isn’t much opportunity for work. You especially can’t get too hopeful if you happen to be on the wrong side of the age bracket, no matter how fit or experienced. Quite a few of the people we know and hear about, have secured jobs in the WA mines, and hope to hold onto them for the foreseeable future. No surprises there.
What the area does afford, especially for me, is access to many places of photographic interest, which usually required me to drive out in this direction in years gone past, now it’s in my back yard. Unfortunately, since arriving here, there have been too many other issues and pressing things to do around the new/old property, such that when good weather has prevailed, photography has had to take a back seat to some extent. I hope to change that in the future and get out more with camera in hand, now that I’ve made myself far more familiar with the locality.
The township itself has a long history and is a popular transit spot for travellers of all sorts. When the Phillip Island GP is run, Mirboo North is the stopover for bike riders from NSW and other places north; it’s a regular waypoint for tourists on a drive or ride during the warm summer months, or throughout the year for that matter; a way to Wilson’s Promontory and places on the coast; as well as a transport route from south to north Gippsland. The area is also a major timber, dairy cattle and potato farming region. But all that’s for another post.