“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”
– Henry David Thoreau
We started our search for a property in the Blue Mountains in 2013. Thinking back now I am not quite sure what stirred us to start looking for land so far away from the comfort of the city life that we had become so accustomed to. In fact we had no real desire to live in the mountains at that stage – well not for a very long time. Still we both had a strong desire for a quieter life and after looking at property all over Sydney with a romanticised idea of building our own Grand Designs home we finally could not ignore the strong pull that came from a westerly and mountainous location – Leura.
I personally had wonderful memories of Leura growing up. A close family friend had a holiday home she would let us stay in on occasion and staying there had perfect memories for me – foraging through the backyard looking for wood to set the fire place up, helping mum with dinner, snuggling up on the lounge with our blankets and watching Out of Africa for the 3rd time – it was absolutely heaven for us. I loved those cool crisp mornings when we would get cosy in bed reading Anne of Green Gables and wondering if we would come across the lake of shinning waters or the windy poplars during our evening walk. Yes! for me Leura was the closet thing to the dreams that kept me alive when I was in the depths of despair! Life wasn’t all that bad but then again I grew up in the outer west in a newly developed area where the closest thing to the windy poplars were the trees that lined the toad infested pond not far from our home.
On the other hand my husbands memories of the mountains were somewhat different. He was a mountain boy through and through. He was far too busy belting through the hazardous tracks with his mates on their pushbikes, winding down hills, and landing head first in some ditch only to regain consciousness and race back home as the smoke from the chimneys reminded them that dinner was probably ready. My husband remembers the cold frosty mornings very differently to me – Usually his glass of water next to his bed would be frozen and if he wasn’t able to have a shower before the rest of the family then he better be prepared to freeze. For my husband he couldn’t wait till the day he left town and never returned. I wouldn’t be surprised if many young people growing up in the mountains were ready to jump on the first bus down the mountains when they hit the ripe age to do so.
Now some 15 years later both my husband and I were very different people to who we were as teens. We both have demanding but rewarding professional careers and have travelled the world experiencing and creating new and wonderful memories that were not based on foolish fantasies.
Still we both knew that one day – one day in the not so distant future – we would be ready for a change – and now was a good a time as ever to start setting ourselves up.
After several months of disappointment particularly with issues finding land in the mountains that was not in a bushfire zone or was too steep to even build on we finally were beginning to have better success. Still we had to endure heartache one more time after the owners of one particular property decided to increase the price on us before removing the property altogether from the market. In the end that was the best thing that could have happened to us because it wasn’t long before we came across a battle-axe block that had a tree lined driveway that did indeed remind me of something from a LM Montgomery novel. Even so, one still had to have a very good imagination to picture what any sort of living on this property would look like because it was literally a jungle with dense vegetation and tall and large Pine trees scattered. It didn’t matter – we had finally found it. We had found our home but we had no idea that it would take another year and a half before we could actually start building on it!
On 20 March 2014 we purchased our block in Leura and the search for someone to draw up the designs for our perfect home had begun. It was also the beggining of new adventure to discover Leura and beyond.