Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ultimate Seachange

In the last six months or so, my life has turned upside down.  I’ve moved house (stressful at the best of times, but certainly not unusual), packed up and moved from Sydney to my childhood home, Lord Howe Island, resigned from my job as a lawyer and started running Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island.  Pinetrees, a guest house for over 100 years, is my family business and was my mum’s pride and joy.  My mum, Pixie Rourke, died last year after a short but nasty battle with liver cancer.  When she was first diagnosed we agreed that I would come home, but in the end I came home to help my dad, Ed, look after her and there wasn’t time to hand over the business in any orderly way.  Soon after she died, I realised that I was pregnant again.

It’s not just me.  My husband, Luke and our toddler, Elsie, have had to make all of these changes too.  In his previous life, Luke was an ecologist for the United Nations and Australian Government.  More recently, he established EzyVegies, an online business selling raised garden beds of his own design and offering detailed online vegetable gardening advice.  Lord Howe is the perfect place for Luke to pursue his passions for surfing, fishing and photography – and gardening, of course.  Our second baby is due next month. 

Since arriving at Lord Howe, we’ve had beautiful days swimming and relaxing at perfect beaches with no one else in sight.  Lord Howe is a paradise for kids and it’s been wonderful to see Elsie settling in and the way everyone makes a fuss of her wherever she goes.  Luke and I have also had days where the many difficulties and irritations of running a small business in an isolated place threaten to overwhelm us.   Most days I’m happy and grateful to be here but there are certainly times when my old life as the employee of a large company living in a big city seems to have great benefits of security and predictability.    

I’ve decided to keep a journal of these changes and the effect on all of our lives.  Although I’ve never blogged before, a blog seems like an easy way to write postcard-length news and share ideas.  I’m planning to write about Island life, running a business and managing the family/work juggle (or not).

Lord Howe is a magical place – and also a place with an interesting human history.  I’ve always loved reading about the lives of women who lived here in the past.  My great great grandmother had 10 children here and it must have been a terribly hard life.  Her husband was the captain of a whaling ship and was away from the Island for months on end.  They were almost entirely self-sufficient.  My mum was born on Lord Howe and went barefoot to the local school before being sent to boarding school on the flying boat.  When she returned to the Island in 1976 after her own mother’s death, she and her partners ran Pinetrees without a phone and relied on a ship that only arrived every 6 weeks.  One of the rewarding things about writing about daily life here is the thought that I can contribute in a small way to that tradition.

I’ll probably be writing in 10 minute bursts between nappy changes, paying the bills and ducking over to the lagoon for a swim (if I’m lucky). If you’re thinking idly about a seachange this year and wondering what it might be like to leave the city and its complications behind for a simpler life, then please join me on the journey.


  1. I have visited twice, and last time I half-jokingly spoke to Luke about working there...
    Who knows - *sigh* maybe one day!!! Mani

  2. I'm thrilled that I stumbled onto your blog! I write young adult novels, and five years ago I wrote one that takes place on Lord Howe Island. Don't worry, it's not published yet (I also read your post on how horrible that book, BRIGHT AIR, was), and if it ever does get published, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a real Islander's input, as I've never been able to visit (I'm an American with three young kids, and traveling to your part of the world is unfortunately not on the expenditures list right now).
    I'm revising my manuscript right now, and your blog posts have been invaluable in helping me get a feel for the island. Thanks so much!

    Shannon Wixom (