If you’re like me, you might have a lot of experience when it comes to…
New York is my favourite overseas city. Hands down. There’s something about the energy there that makes everything seem so exciting and cool, yet familiar and comforting.
If you’ve ever walked aimlessly on a Sunday through any one of the five boroughs, you know what I mean when I say that, for a city of over 8 million people, they’ve really got that community vibe nailed. It’s a whole mood.
I talk about NYC a lot. I have inspired artwork in my home, watch films and television series based on whether they are set in New York and even ran the marathon once. So you could be forgiven for mistaking me for a big city gal. Except I’m not.
In fact, apart from my beloved Canberra, the only other place where I have felt so at home is a small, country town on the outskirts of the ACT where I have lived for the past three and a bit years.
Of course, I’m talking about Bungendore.
We are so lucky in Canberra to be surrounded by such beautiful landscape. I’ve always loved driving to the coast for that reason (and Pooh’s Corner, obviously) yet funnily enough, rarely did I stop in Bungendore unless I really, really needed to use the loo.
But when I was looking for a new family home a few years ago, I decided on a whim to include Bungendore in my online search criteria thinking I’d just have something to compare the Canberra market with.
After all, it was too far to travel with work and school in Canberra, wasn’t it? And then I added a really gorgeous home in Bungendore to my watchlist, just out of interest.
Because I’d feel too isolated out there while on my upcoming maternity leave, wouldn’t I? Then an open home happened to pop up on a day I was out in Canberra’s north, with some time to spare.
But it would just be for the nice drive in the country, there’s nothing much out there, is there?
Six weeks later, we were all moved in.
Now, I am aware that I’m drawing a pretty long bow. Bungendore is about as far from NYC as you can get as far as lifestyle goes. But very soon after I landed there, 36 weeks pregnant with my second daughter and ready to settle in to country living, I experienced that feeling when you really arrive home.
You know, it’s that little skip in your heart when you get somewhere you really connect with. There’s a memory, or a smell in the air, or a cosy cafe that makes you feel safe and warm. That thing. I found it in Bungendore. And like New York, it took my heart.
I didn’t expect to fall quite so hard for B-Town. I am Canberra born and bred and, as a diehard north-sider (#2615belcopride) I know what it’s like to feel loyal to your ‘hood.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for fresh country air, super friendly people and fabulous coffee, but I definitely became one of those people who wouldn’t shut up about where they live. It was probably a bit annoying for my Canberra friends, to be honest.
Even more annoyingly, before I moved I asked said friends to help with the decision by telling me all the downsides I hadn’t thought of about living outside of Canberra, then promptly ignored them all. I have no regrets though, because moving to Bungendore was one of the best life choices I’ve ever made.
So, when personal circumstances meant I had to pack up and leave last month, my heart broke. I’ve never felt so sad to leave a place before. I comforted myself with the knowledge that home is where you make it, and that I was certainly about to embark on my next great adventure.
I’m excited to be moving back to the ‘Berra but, deep down, I think I’ll always yearn for that small town that wrapped me up like an overly-aggressive hug from Grandma, only letting go when it sensed I was ok to move on.
It may seem silly to some, but I learned more about life and myself while living in Bungendore than I have in the past decade. I don’t think I’m the first person to make a tree change and feel that way. There really is something about small town living that makes you stop and consider what really matters.
Perhaps it’s the extended commute allowing extra time for reflection and decompression after a long day, or the freedom of living somewhere your children can play and ride their bikes wherever they like without any real concerns.
Perhaps it’s the way the stars look on winter’s night in a sky with virtually no light pollution. Perhaps it’s all of that combined, and more.
But whatever it is, I know I am better for having lived there. I may not get back to NYC for some time but hey, I’ll always have Bungendore.
Want to explore and support this beautiful region?
The Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council’s Treasure Trail encourages Canberrans to ‘find their treasure’ in Bungendore and Braidwood—and their new Shop & Win campaign means that when you spend $20 at over 90 businesses across Bungendore and Braidwood, you’ll have a chance to share in a $20,000 prize pool.
Find more information here.
Feature image: Adam McGrath