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Fall in love with Ainslie

Ashleigh Went

It’s not often that you hear of love at first sight – but for Claire Mackay, it happened twice in just five years.

The first was in 2010, when she stumbled across a gorgeous cottage on Leslie Street in Ainslie.

“I loved it from the second I saw it” she says. “I love old houses with a bit of soul – the old fireplace, the front brick fence, high ceilings with picture rails, and my favourite: the mantle in the kitchen.”

The 1940’s cottage is full of charm and character, with sash windows, antique glass, original timber floors. Claire bought the home and made it her own, adding her own special touches of quirk.

“I also wanted a big yard to develop an all edible garden and it already had beautiful established fruit trees – figs and apples – which I added to.”


With her sister only nine doors up, an auntie close by and her grandparents 500 metres away, it was also the central location that had Claire hooked — not to mention proximity to local cafes, shops and landmarks.

“Easy walking distance to Mt Ainslie, Ainslie shops and Braddon – what more do you need?”


The lure of work in the UK saw Claire take leave of her lovely cottage, however, fate saw her “unceremoniously ejected” at the end of a two-year work visa. Rather than flocking home to Leslie Street, she decided to take the long way home… in a most quirky and adventurous manner.

“I decided to do the Mongol Rally – driving from the UK to Mongolia in a tiny Bedford Rascal Van. Along the way I heard of a new adventure race called the Icarus Trophy – the world’s first ever long distance powered paragliding race to be completed later in the year – a 1200km race down the west coast of the US.”

Claire began learning to fly a powered paraglider – which she describes as “something akin to a bed sheet and a lawnmower engine!”

After making it to Mongolia and returning to Australia for a short stint, Claire packed up once again and headed for the US, excited and terrified for two weeks of adrenalin-fuelled adventure.


However, the Icarus Trophy was anything but smooth sailing.

“In the first few days I was plagued by nervousness. I was flying alongside very experienced pilots flying across difficult terrain through questionable weather and I am very risk averse (if you can believe it!) I finally shook off the nerves just in time to start having engine troubles. I had made some modifications in order to carry additional fuel and the system started to malfunction.”

Two-thirds of the way through her journey, the engine stopped working completely and Claire was forced to make an emergency landing.

“Sadly, what looked like a nice flat field from the air was actually a lava field full of boulders. I had a rough landing and was lucky to come out of it with a broken wrist.”

In amongst the misfortune was where our real love story truly begins.

“Along the way, I met Trevor: a pilot who was flying a documentary maker in his plane along the racetrack to capture footage of the race.”

Claire says Trevor was kind, hilarious, fearless and seriously talented, and the couple hit it off instantly. She returned home alone but kept in close contact with Trevor, and after Easter flew to Hawaii to meet each other once again.

“Trevor has since spent some time in Australia and now I am headed to the US to spend time with him in Sonoma, California: the heart of wine country. We are fitting out a camper and about to head off on a big road trip across the western US.”

And so, the heroine of our story sets off on another adventure. While clearly delighted to be reunited with Trevor, sadly Claire must part with her darling cottage on Leslie Street.

If you’re looking for a new home, perhaps it’s now your turn to fall in love… Check out 7 Leslie Street Ainslie on

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Ashleigh Went

Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. She’s currently studying her Certificate in Fitness, but also has a Bachelor of Communication, as well as over 5 years experience working in a gym and several half marathons under her belt. Among other things, she’s a lover of great food, coffee, fashion and more than likely you’ll see her big smile around Canberra hotspots. A self-confessed book worm, she loves her city, hearing peoples stories and travelling to new places. More about the Author

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