Lis shares her tree change story

Thank to you my lovely reader Lis who is the first to share her tree change story here…………and I’m sure I won’t be the only one a bit envious of her lovely home and views……and that craft room! Thanks Lis!

Not sure how much my personal story will help, since we are an older couple.  We moved to the country from upper north-shore Sydney (where we had lived for over 25 years) when my husband retired from full time work – that was 8 years ago and I will be having my 70th birthday in a couple of months.

However we are so pleased we moved – and wouldn’t dream of moving back to Sydney!

We now live in the Manning Valley: we bought a 2 acre block of land just outside the town and had a house built on it (gorgeous almost 360 degree views).  That process took almost 18 months – we sold our house in Wahroonga and moved to a rental place while the building was happening.   We used a local architect because the block sloped quite drastically and we had pretty definite ideas about how we wanted the house to function:  although we didn’t have very firm ideas on how it should look.  It’s a long house, built along the contour line, with a bit of cut and fill to give a flat area for building.   We have 3 bedrooms and a study and a craft room – and  a large kitchen dining area, as well as a lounge.

We are not on the town sewage system so we have a recycling wastewater system with the greywater irrigating underground into a large garden area which has bushes and perennials (most of which have survived the drought – so far ) helped considerably by regular mulching.

We live in a pretty small country town, near Taree which is much bigger.  When we first moved to the area the thing we missed most (apart from our friends!) was the big variety of delicatessen type food that we had been used to (from the local shopping centres and also bigger shops at St Ives and Hornsby): we used to take a couple of eskies with us when we went back to Sydney (every few weeks to begin with – we still had a couple of our adult children living there at that stage), and come back home with all sorts of things.  Now 8 years later there is a greater choice available locally – through some of the bigger supermarkets, and also we have found more shops stocking more exotic items.  (Quite a lot of this has been as a result of the increased emphasis there is these days on local produce.)  We also have a fantastic continental smallgoods shop at Taree.

I thought I might miss shopping for clothes in the larger department stores that I was used to at Macquarie Centre and Hornsby – but I haven’t!   Partly because with a more relaxed lifestyle I don’t feel the need to ‘dress up’ so often, but also because there are quite a few good shops when you get to know the place better  – and Port Macquarie is only 1 hour away.  (And a few of our younger friends shop in Newcastle when they want a bigger selection.)  Last year our younger son got married in Waikiki, Hawaii, and we stayed there for three weeks – I purchased most of a new summer wardrobe for the occasion either here in town and in Port Central at Port Macquarie.

We tried to take our cue from having watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingham of River Cottage fame for quite a few years – and his willingness to get involved in local things.  We joined our local church, helped in various activities and quickly made friends – I have small craft classes I run from home, my husband sings in a local choir and is pretty involved in a local prison ministry.

Part of our original reason for moving north was to be a bit closer to our eldest daughter – she and her husband moved away from Sydney almost 15 years ago, and have 130 acres about an hour west of Port Macquarie: they love their country life style and are very positive about all the advantages they see for bringing up children in the country – they have three children who are now 14, 13 and 11.   They are building up a flock of sheep which they milk – which they make into cheese and yoghurt.  They also have a holiday cabin which they built 2 years for farm stay holidays.

And then about 3 years ago our younger daughter, her husband and two young children (now three of them) moved north as well – they now live in Wauchope – almost exactly 100 kms from here so day visits are reasonably easy.  The families get together on a regular basis and it is great seeing how well the cousins get on together – the older ones are particularly good with the younger ones.

We were very lucky in quickly finding good medical people: a doctor (who is now one of our closest friends), dentist and optometrist.

We decided early on that we wouldn’t grow our own vegetables (but we do grow herbs); we find that the local produce is good, and prices are so reasonable when things are in season, that certainly for just two people we couldn’t justify the time it would take.  Local markets are very good – and improve every year.  We did spend a lot of time and energy (and some money too!) in landscaping our land though:  having put in a dam very early on, we also now have three ponds which were built by my husband with the help of our older son, which are connected to each other so that the stormwater (and overflow from our three large rainwater tanks) fills the top one and that goes on to fill the other two – and finally runs into the dam.  Our other son is a landscaper and helped us with a courtyard and fountain that is immediately outside our family room – we really enjoy seeing the many birds that come for the water.  Putting in the 3 ponds, and planting the banks around them, together with our other garden has been a labour of love, with most of the work being done by my husband.  We have a small Kubota tractor which has a grass cutter fitting, as well as a zero turn ride on mower.  We bought the tractor very early on, while the house was being built, because the land was just a rough grassed paddock, which had been used for horses.  My husband was very diligent about mowing and eventually the grass started looking very good (when we had good rain!).  And keeping it cut meant that we could see snakes more easily (one of the few downsides of country life!).  The area close by the house was turfed after the builders moved out.  We had to store the tractor before the garage was built so we rented a container – which we then purchased – and that now sits next to the garage.  Very, very useful!

We don’t go to Sydney very often now – and would go even less often if our younger son and his wife didn’t live there!

Thank you Lis! If you have a tree change story to share with me then we’d love to hear it. Just email me on with a few photos and I look forward to sharing more stories as the weeks go by and I start packing……….


  1. Awwww what a cool nearly 70 year old lady for writing
    This piece for Corrie. I enjoyed your lovely writing & admire your outlook & think, lucky daughters & grandchildren having you two close-ish by!!
    God bless your happy home.

  2. Ha ! fantastic story , and I SEE Lis hubby has same tractor as my hubby Corrie you must get retro daddy one of these !

  3. Sounds wonderful, their lands looks stunning and it’s so nice to read that the benefits way outweigh the disadvantages :-)

  4. Wingham is such a beautiful part of the world and funnily enough the place where we would love to make a tree change to from Sydney, so I can be nearer to my parents at Wauchope! Such a small world.

  5. Thank you Lis! You & your husband have achieved a dream I hope to live one day :-). Especially relevant as retirement is now a door-knock away :-)

  6. Susan leach says:

    What a great home and story. Love your views

  7. These photos are so lovely! :-)

  8. Dreaming, dreaming! Corrie – stop! I am getting restless just reading all these things 😉 Happy birthday by the way xo

  9. Such a lovely place. Similar to southern California where I live. Wish my yard looked like that. Our drought has made us quit watering the grass. My lot that I live on is small because land prices here are so high here. I would love to live in a place like yours.
    Wishing also….retirement is also knocking at my door.

  10. Beautiful Home! I have a question for Corrie though — What do you mean by “tree change”? I think maybe it is some Aussie lingo that we don’t know here in the US. I had a funny story about ripping out a walnut tree and putting in a small orchard in the house I grew up in, but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about now!

    • aussiebeachgirl says:

      Haha…hey Morgan, a “tree change” simply means making the change from city dwelling to country living. It’s referred to as making a tree change, very much like making a sea change where one moves from the country to the coast. I don’t think it’s particularly “aussie” in origin as it’s often referred to as such in Britain and Europe, South Africa and NZ. It’s interesting that it doesn’t exist in the US. cheers, heather x

  11. I’m Aussie and I’ve not heard of Tree change either. Perhaps it’s a twist on Sea Change where you re-locate from the city to a sea setting. Sounds like a lovely change. Lots of people are doing it.

  12. aussiebeachgirl says:

    Corrie, thank you for bringing Lis’s story to us. As a fellow convertee (is there even such a word? lol) from Sydney to Queensland country life, I can happily identify with everything that Lis says. Our own lives have improved tenfold, and I shudder when I hear stories of neighbourly disputes, cramped suburban living conditions on postage stamp-sized blocks, noise and pollution. It makes me grateful for every day I live in this beautiful environment! I wouldn’t trade it for the world…although I may consider moving to somewhere similar, in a cooler environment! 😉 A very big Thank You to you Lis, for a wonderful story. Perhaps you may even have met my hubs’ sister (or BIL) in Taree? The world is indeed a very small place! :-) Cheers heather x

  13. What a lovely post, looks great :)

  14. Oh, way to pull on the heartstrings! I grew up in Taree, my parents still live there, and I used to teach at Wingham High. Lovely writing, thanks Lis and Corrie!

  15. What a lovely story Lis, and gorgeous views you have :)

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