Ever since arriving from W.A 28 years ago as young parents, the Smiths have been escaping to the Otways. We camped all over exploring Victoria. It was the Otways that we fell in Love with: The trees, the birds, the water… We bought an old caravan and kept it at the Cumberland River camping ground. Life when camping was simple. A camp oven Christmas is precious!
Our next phase of escape was to buy 20 acres of land backing onto the The Great Otway National Park in Pennyroyal. That was 25 years ago. We built a pole house weekender. I was adamant – no T.V. and no telephone. There were no laptops! We would come down to the Otways to escape the jumble of cars and the chaos of the city.
In Pennyroyal we stared over eucalypts and sunsets. We marvelled at the brightness of the stars. Life however is never smooth, never perfect. When we had ‘Our Family Crisis’, those priorities that we had modeled into our life suddenly became meaningless. With this family issue we decided to well and truly escape. Life seems simple when camping. We bought 200 acres in Pennyroyal, sold out of city life, left our careers and moved permanently to the Otways.
Brett built our two-bedroom house in the middle of a paddock beside a dam. We planted over 80,000 trees and established an extensive garden that is now our own botanical wonderland. You can choose your property but being a part of this community is a privilege! Our wonderful neighbour says it takes 20 years to be a local. Maybe? We are certainly not from the real, local stock of Smiths. We have however always felt welcome.
This community is passionate about causes: The Arts, Landcare, climate change, charities, the cooking group, festivals, and Louise Brown’s amazing choir and percussion. I am so looking forward to the ‘Voice For The Refugees’ next year.
When I greet our guests at their Otway Escape, I tell them:
“We now have Koalas in our trees down on Matthews Creek and Sugar Glider Possums.
I tell them : “You will not hear cars but a symphony of birds.”
I tell them: ” You will marvel at the brightness of the stars.”
I tell them to sit – sit and stare…
By Christine Smith