Towards the end of 2014 I had watched way too many seasons of Grand Designs and River Cottage, both UK and Australian. I had also been reading a number of self-sufficiency-type books. I had read Jackie French’s Backyard Self-Sufficiency cover-to-cover, multiple times. I had read The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow, Organic Vegetable Gardening by Annette McFarlane and The Australian Fruit and Vegetable Garden by Clive Blazey and Jane Varkulevicius and had day dreamed my way through John Seymour’s The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency.
At that point, we owned a 614sqm block in Katoomba, with 3 raised veggie beds, 6 chickens and 2 ducks. I had planted a hedge of tea camellias along our front fence, we had 2 pear trees and a lemonade tree in pots, a thriving berry patch and plans to plant a hedge of avocados as a screen to block our neighbours.
It just didn’t feel like enough. We wanted to move towards more thorough self-sufficiency.
We talked a lot about options. What could we afford? Where did we want to go? How much land did we want? What did we want to do with it?
We started looking at blocks of land in the Blue Mountains, from Woodford to Mount Victoria. Anything from 3000sqm, we thought. We drove past a few and then started looking a bit further out. It seemed cheaper and you could get a lot more land. We looked at a property in Little Hartley in December and then decided to stop looking for a bit because I found out I was pregnant with Little E. But the seed was planted. We briefly considered moving to the Southern Highlands to be closer to some much needed family support, all the while researching natural building methods and working out what we could afford.
In the end, we felt that God wanted us to stay in the Mountains. We kept looking around, not really finding anything, and then a couple of blocks that were out of our price range became substantially cheaper. Papa J suggested we go and look at it, but I really couldn’t be bothered. We’d been in the car all day. But I acquiesced. As soon as we drove up and walked around on it for a bit it was love. There was an incredible view and it was clear and ready for whatever we wanted to do. There were some down sides. The land was on a slope, it was really exposed (windy) and “the soil’s crap” (direct quote from my mum). Despite these negatives, that was us sold.
We immediately got to work getting our place ready to sell and we did some negotiations with the then owners. Eventually it was May, our house was sold, we owned a block of land and that was how it began.
This is Providence Hill, our 24 acre property overlooking the Kanimbla Valley.