Opportunity plus contribution equal fulfilment
For the Southwell family, a toddler and a newborn were no barrier to making a Country Change from the coastal city of Batemans Bay. Having both grown up in regional areas, Tom and Helle Southwell were keen to make a move that would give their boys the same lifestyle and opportunities they enjoyed growing up.
A perfect place to put down roots
Returning to Helle’s hometown of Tumbarumba for a Christmas holiday allowed the couple to see the vibrant township from a new perspective. Nestled in the western foothills of New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains, the Snowy Valleys region has a combined population of 14,644. Tumbarumba, being home to around 2000 people, is just one of the many towns and regional centres flourishing in the cool mountain climate. Visiting again a few months later to help with the harvest in Helle’s parent’s vineyard, the Southwell’s were convinced that ‘Tumba’ was the perfect place to put down their roots.
Helle remembers, “My parents planted the first vines when I was in kindergarten.” So, growing up with Johansen Wines was an everyday part of her life. But with established careers, Tom and Helle didn’t initially plan their move back to the area to become integral parts of the family business. “The move was definitely lifestyle based,” Tom said. However, it wasn’t too long before the couple realised how much they enjoyed being a part of the winery.
Lifestyle and employment grow together
In a few years, the extended family has rebranded and built up their label, created a Cellar Door and have added a Bed and Breakfast to their thriving mix of offerings. But it’s not all been about work. “There’s fishing, mountain biking, equestrian and lots of other sports,” said Tom. “Not to mention the flagship food and wine festivals, which we love being a part of,” he added.
With such a range of resources and natural beauty, the Snowy Valleys have a lot to offer locals and tourists alike. The Southwell’s believe there is a diverse range of opportunities for tourism, businesses and families alike, and see a lot of potential for growth in the area. “If you’re interested in making a Country Change, definitely look at Tumbarumba,” insisted Helle. “Come and talk to the locals, have a beer at the pub, buy some wine, eat at the restaurants, come and stay at our B’n’B,” they suggest. “There are opportunities here in every season, it’s very diverse, and people here really do want you to succeed,” Tom added.
From another country – to a country town
The Mulder family also found a wealth of possibilities in the Snowy Valleys. “We moved straight from South Africa to Tumbarumba,” Angeline Mulder explains. “It was the best decision ever,” she said of the choice she and her husband, Nico, made to expatriate. “As a family, we were looking for a better environment to raise our children. We weren’t confident about their future in South Africa and wanted to raise them in a safer environment with more opportunities,” she said. When Nico was offered a position in Tumbarumba’s local blueberry industry, they were delighted with the opportunity.
Blessed with safety and beauty
Although the opportunity for agricultural work was the driving factor behind the family’s move, Angeline said that the safety and beauty of the area was ‘the cherry on the top.’ “Here in Tumba, the kids can play outside and just be kids,” she said with gratitude, adding, “Living here has made us appreciate nature so much more. We have time now to go for walks or take a day trip up to the snow in the winter.”
The lack of city congestion has also been an enjoyable lifestyle improvement. “The worst traffic jam in Tumba is cattle being moved on the way to town,” she cheerfully explained. With some of the best farming lands for cattle and sheep on offer in Tumbarumba, a Country Change to the region is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in farming.
Communities thrive on giving and receiving
A job in a regional town is so much more than just employment. “It’s an opportunity to contribute to the community,” said Angeline. “Businesses rely on one another to keep the community employed and to stimulate economic growth,” she added. And this is something that the Mulder family have been happy to actively participate in.
What could a Country Change offer you?
For anyone considering a Country Change, the Mulders offer a few key questions to contemplate:
- What is your definition of life (ideally, what would it look like)?
- What do you value (what is important to you)?
- Why are you making a change?
Angeline advises that this process requires an open head, hand and heart, as a lifestyle change is a very personal choice. She also predicts that if you involve yourself fully in it, “You will be Blessed out of your shoes in return.”