We’ve had a lot of conversations recently with people wanting a change from life in the city. As life continues to speed up, the appeal to slow down flourishes. To have nature on your doorstep and the opportunity to buy and settle into a house of your own. Friends, baristas, colleagues and family have been speaking of charming towns about an hour or so out of the city which are seeing a renewed energy and creative force springing to life with the new inhabitants moving away from their city dwellings. We’ve had places such as Castlemaine, Thirroul, South Gippsland and Broken Head mentioned to us numerous times.
At the beginning of January we took a couple of days to explore the South Coast of NSW, a place that we often find ourselves daydreaming about. In less than hour from the CBD the drive along the (fairly) new and surprisingly good Grand Pacific Drive greets you with a noticeable amount of space, ocean breeze and a slower way of living.
The first town we stopped in was Austinmer, with a lovely community vibe and a couple of backstreets which give the feeling that ‘things’ are happening – that elusive buzz we are so used to when living in the city. At Moore St General we met some of the staff who’d recently returned home to the South Coast after vowing to never come back in their teens. They spoke of the people and lifestyle that made their new home so good and how things have started to happen – music, the arts and an emerging food scene are slowly popping up all along the Southern Coast.
From another point of view, a conversation during this time with a couple who recently moved outside of Byron raised some points commonly forgotten when discussing the highly idealised ‘sea change’ we all seem to be wanting. Their more secluded lifestyle has meant much more planning, more time in a car and much more time just the two of them. These things are not bad, rather an adjustment and something to keep in mind when the amount of traffic, people and options in the city can seem overwhelming – they actually allow for a great deal of convenience. Perhaps we just need to change our approach to them, perhaps it’s just a change in us, and our lifestyles that is necessary. Can we live in a city and slow down. Make time to brew coffee at home, find markets in an effort to buy our food locally and take the time at the end (or even in the middle) of our day to walk through a park and sit amongst the trees.
I’m not sure if were quite ready for a move ourselves just yet, life in the city still has many things to give us, but a day or two discovering new towns and a different pace of life gave us all we needed to feel re inspired and rejuvenated for our return to a New Year in Melbourne – with a few resolutions to make more ‘space’ in our current life this coming year. Here are a few snaps from our time in the Illawarra.