Amelia Turner and the Little Farm in Mansfield

Amelia TurnerThe concept of downsizing appeals to many people, but it’s difficult to find a property that meets your entire wish list. Amelia had almost given up the idea of moving when her husband spotted a house in Mansfield. It was love at first sight. A year later, Amelia is settled in her forever home enjoying a short commute to work, preserving home-grown produce and keeping chooks and a veggie patch.

Where did you grow up?

I had a happy childhood in Griffith, NSW, about four hours from Canberra, a food hub known for its wineries and links to the Mafia. I studied welfare at Charles Sturt University Bathurst as there were limited options locally.

Why did you move to Melbourne?

I wanted to leave Griffith, but I fell in love with a local bloke, Anthony, and we started our family there. Fortunately, he was keen to spread his wings, so when he was offered a great job in Melbourne, we set off with our little family (two young school kids), leaving behind our newly renovated home and both families.

The move was awful – the sale was delayed, we lived in a caravan park for a time and I didn’t have a job. But once we settled, we embraced city life with its beaches, shows, sport and options for study through school and beyond. The Commonwealth Games were on just after we moved, so we supported the events. I completed a degree in Interior Design.

Why did you decide to leave Melbourne?

We had a lovely house in a street with well-established friendships, but after 14 years after the kids finished school, we thought we should downsize and reduce the mortgage. The collection of caravan, boat, motorbike and most importantly a 2-year-old Labrador made a mockery of that idea.

All the same, we wanted a simpler life, less travel to work, a sense of calm. A place that would give friends and family a reason to visit. I missed having a vegie patch, and I wanted chooks! Solar energy and tank water were high on the list, as we wanted to reduce our carbon footprint.

We considered moving to the city outskirts, but the commute was ridiculous and we didn’t want to be soon surrounded by new subdivisions. Nothing felt right, so we stopped looking.

What changed?

Twelve months ago, we spent Easter in Bungendore, at Mulloon Creek. Its founder, Tony Coote, aimed to return the farm to its former state through natural sequencing, revegetating the land and restoring the natural water courses. See We both wanted a piece of land like this.

Back home, we launched the Domain App and within minutes Anthony found a property … in Mansfield. We fell in love with the house. A few days later, he visited and showed me through FaceTime. This weekend a year ago, we visited the property on our way to a birthday party in NSW. Inside an hour, we’d signed on the dotted line.

How was the transition?

Unlike our move to Melbourne, there were no dramas. Our house sold in a week for the money we wanted, the contracts finalised on the same day and it stopped raining on moving day while we shifted our furniture in. I even got a job in town before we arrived.

Tell us about your jobs.

I’ve always worked in helping professions – counselling and teaching. Before we left Melbourne, I held a maternity leave position as a L2P (Learner to Probationary driver) Program Facilitator, which I loved, but I had no idea what I would do when it finished. As it turned out, a week later, I started at Mansfield Shire as a Supported Playgroup Facilitator, a new part-time position. I also took over the L2P program in Mansfield. I couldn’t be happier. I live in a lovely town, in a perfect house and it takes eight minutes to get to work.

What was your first impression of Mansfield?

The first time we drove into town we stopped and got an excellent coffee and I thought, ‘This could be it.’ We went to the house … and the rest is history.

At my job interview before I moved, I was told, “Mansfield punches above its weigh.” It’s true. There are great services and we are close enough to other rural cities and to Melbourne that we want for nothing. As a tourist town, there are always events to promote this part of the world.

I’m lucky my jobs involve meeting people, so I can integrate with the community. I’ve met people from birth to retirement. Anthony, who works from home, has joined the CFA.

Have there been any disappointments?

We left our daughter in Melbourne and we all miss one another, but we make time to catch up and continue to make memories.

Do you have any advice for people considering a tree change?

Some people like the idea of moving to the country, but they overlook things like isolation, limited public transport, or intermittent phone reception.

In the city, people want to know which suburb you live in. Here, they want to know your street. You need to be prepared for that. We had a professional photographer take family photos when we arrived, I later found out she was one of my L2P program volunteers. Professional boundaries blur in the country. We’ve always interacted with our neighbours, but here it’s more important, especially for things like natural disasters. People look out for their neighbours better than in the city where you may not even know their names.

What’s next for you?

I have produce from my excellent veggie patch and established fruit trees, so I’m learning how to preserve. Apple pie filling is on the list for today. I also quilt and want to make more crafty things. Mansfield has a vibrant community, so I’m looking forward to cementing friendships. It’s a beautiful part of the world so we’ll play tourist and enjoy 4-wheel driving, camping, the wineries, the snow and the lake!

If you wish to contact Amelia, she can be reached on:

Next time: I continue the Mansfield interview series with Eve Foster, Mansfield Lawyer

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