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Pressing the pause button

Amanda Whitley

How escaping for a weekend can be the perfect tonic for a busy life.

Building a business is a little like driving a steam train. It’s slow to start, but you keep up the effort, steadily shovelling in the fuel for the fire, as it gradually builds momentum. You do this for what seems like forever and are pleased at the increase in pace. The fire demands to be fed more often, and while you’re really proud of what you’ve built, there are time when you feel like it’s getting bigger than you can handle. Eventually you feel like you can’t shovel fast enough, because you’re too busy trying to wrestle this out of control machine back on track, and that’s when you need to stop…at least for a little while.

It’s been a massive year for HerCanberra…a little over 12 months ago,  it was just me. Now there are five of us, and it’s not just a website anymore…it’s a magazine…and events…and everything that goes along with that. And sometimes (like the entire three months from August to October) the pace and the ‘to do’ list can be totally overwhelming. It’s really easy to just try to push through, to think ‘I just need to get through the next ‘insert timeframe here’ and it will all be ok’. But unless we slow down and take care of ourselves for a little while, we’re just going to fall in a big heap.

Sometimes, the universe has a way of sending you a message. In August, I was tired and overwhelmed and had just come through a really difficult period where I had to make some hard, stressful decisions. I was in desperate need of a few days disconnected from the 24/7 cycle of running a website and the general pressures of life…and that’s when I received an email asking if I was interested in having a weekend at You Me And The Sea – a luxury holiday home in Lilli Pilli, not far from Batemans Bay. Tongue firmly in cheek, I responded saying, ‘sure – how’s this weekend?’ And the reply was ‘absolutely – come on down.’

The view from You Me and The Sea

The view from You Me and The Sea

With a marathon-running husband tackling the Capital to Coast, I packed a couple of bags of food supplies and wine, picked up my two girls straight from school on Friday and hit the road, bound for the Bay. After an easy trip, we arrived just before dusk, glimpsing the hidden driveway just off the main road south from Batemans Bay. At the end of a short bush track lay the house—and it felt like sanctuary. High ceilings, lots of light and floor-to-ceiling windows looked out into a secluded backyard framed by tall gums; just beyond was the beach.

You Me and The Sea.

You Me and The Sea. Look at the view out the back windows.


I find water therapeutic…and I’m not even talking about being in it. Just gazing out at the ocean, or listening to the crash of the waves, is somehow calming. The owners of the house obviously feel the same way, because at the end of a short track leading from the backyard—just on the edge of a cliff—is a bench which quickly became my favourite place to sit and just let the tension drain away.

Miss Nine loving the private beach.

Miss Nine loving the private beach.

Two minutes walk away was the private beach shared by a handful of houses surrounding the bay (it’s inaccessible by road) and it was like a magnet for my girls. It may have been mid-August, and I didn’t even pack swimmers, but that didn’t stop them from stripping down to their singlet and undies and wading into the waves to splash around. Meanwhile, I pulled up a piece of driftwood and read my novel in between peeks to ensure they weren’t heading in too deep.

Even though we were just 10 minutes drive from the Bay, we only headed there once (for the obligatory trip to Smiggle and dinner on the first night – amazing pizza from Sam’s Pizzeria), because the solitude was simply too wonderful. We read, we drew, we splashed, we played table tennis (badly), we talked, we walked to the local bakery for breakfast, and we warmed ourselves in front of the open wood fire, which I rather proudly made myself. Even though there was wifi access, I remained (mostly) unplugged and it’s amazing how calming that can be.

We had dinner at home overlooking the gorgeous view.

We had dinner at home overlooking the gorgeous view.


When the time came to head back on Sunday, we were all a little blue—reality seemed very unappealing. But the weekend escape had done its job. On Monday morning, for the first time in months, I woke up and felt ready to tackle another busy week rather than feeling the almost-physical weight of commitments and slight panic of everything that needed to be done. And while the fact that it’s taken me until November to actually write this article speaks volumes about the last few months, the fact that I made it here in one piece (physically and mentally) I think is due in part to that weekend of respite. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to just stop and nurture ourselves. The ‘to do’ list can wait.

the essentials

What: You Me And The Sea holiday home
Where: 224 George Bass Drive, Lilli Pilli
Book: Contact Ray White Batemans Bay on (02) 4472 6565

The author stayed at You Me And The Sea free of charge.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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