Nouveau rural: where to find it and how to create it showcases the homes and lifestyles of those who quit part-time or full-time to enjoy the good life away from the crazy crowds (except, that is, when they have to queue for a cafÃ© with other city refugees in the main streets of Broome, Daylesford, Mudgee and Devonport).
With profiles of chef Sean Moran (from Bondi to Bilpin), stylist Tess Newman-Morris (from Melbourne to Macedon Ranges) and gin brewers David and Anne Kernke (from Queensland to Baghdad, central Tasmania) , Weir documents his own tree change.
Like a Country Women’s Association patchwork quilt, the book is a pleasant jumble of chapters, Q&As you go, practical advice, quotes and poetic ramblings on how to find, style and maintain the best rural life Australia has to offer.
A potted memoir at the end traces Weir’s journey from a Sydney suburban kid to a busy stylist and interior designer, crossing the world from New York to London. Thanks to her famous father, it was not uncommon, as a child, to end up as an extra alongside Harrison Ford in Witness (1985) or for David Bowie to come to dinner.
Weir has many qualifications, including a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, and recently finished the interiors of the new cafe at the National Art School in Sydney, where a book launch will take place one of these days.
The lockdown gave Weir time to pause and reflect on his key passion project of the past decade: buying and fitting out the former schoolmaster’s house in Hill End near Bathurst at four a.m. drive northwest of his home in east-central Sydney.
Weir transformed the double-brick Hill End home into a country-style triumph, from pale table linens and sheer curtains with pops of duck egg blue color and Faded Passion wallpaper from Swedish company Sandberg.
“I had been going to Hill End for a few years, to visit friends with houses there,” she said. Life & Hobbies. âEach time, I liked the region a little more.
âThe buying of a place sort of happened. ‘Why would you want to do this?’ I used to think – like buying a place here – and it was a leap forward, but in the end it happened really quickly when the right house came along. “
Weir is not alone in his jump. The pandemic has boosted a trend among people from all walks of life to move to regional and coastal areas as quickly as Wi-Fi connectivity improves. Thanks to Zoom, the past 18 months have made the transition from the city to the countryside easier than ever.
In northern New South Wales, celebrities and successful businesses have turned the once small towns of Byron Bay and Noosa into bustling satellite towns with the best cuisine, personal trainers, and private jet landing facilities.
Last year, a record 43,000 people moved from capitals to regional areas, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in its series on “internal migration” in May.
This is the largest net inflow to the regions since the start of this particular SBS series in 2001 – and Australian demographers have finally called for a reversal of the secular trend of urbanization.
“In 2020, regional Queensland had the largest net influx (17,000 people) of any state,” says Phil Browning, director of demographics at ABS. “The regional regions of Victoria (13,400) and NSW (12,700) recorded the following largest net gains.”
You can hear Banjo Paterson clapping from his grave.
The many practical moving tips in Weir’s book include: consider the huge expense of transporting furniture long distances (sounds obvious, but hey, it surprised Weir); get a feel for the politics and vibe of the community you move in; and if it’s a weekend you’re looking for, ask yourself how far too far is it.
She also suggests looking for a town with wide streets, at least a few intact heritage buildings, a great cafe (“symbol of the new rural”), and a place that is easy to swim, be it a dam, stream, or rock pool.
Weir discovered his country through friends. A enclave of long-time artists, Hill End was once home to original ‘tree changers’ such as artists Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend, who settled there in the late 1940s.
âI always liked that there was so little change in Hill End, given that the area is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the houses are rented,â Weir explains, adding that there is less than 100 residents. “It has a very preserved feel, lost in time.”
His good friend, artist Luke Sciberras, gets a few pages in the book. He has lived in Hill End since the early 2000s and was featured in the equally engaging volume by Melbourne photographer Robyn Lea. The bohemian life (2018).
âLuke has such a beautiful eye and I loved everything about what those friends had up there, from nice cozy houses and gardens to slow cooking; spending time arranging flowers or dropping everything to properly welcome the friends who come, âWeir explains.
Despite his aversion to the word “bond,” Weir admits that’s exactly what a rural retreat offers. âOne of the things that surprised me about spending more time in the country is that people are generally happier and more relaxed. It might be as simple as the fact that most people like to be in the countryside.
Hill End is secluded, yet surrounded by fully gentrified country towns such as Orange, Mudgee, and tiny Millthorpe, with hat restaurants and organic charcuterie boards.
The only thorn in Weir’s side is the fact that his breech hole is almost a four-hour drive away: âOnce you get over two hours from home, it’s not really a weekend. end. My boyfriend and I tend to go to Hill End for long stretches of five to seven days. We’re probably there about six or seven weeks a year, if you add the pieces together. “
Artists such as Drysdale and Friend, who first visited the area on a field trip in 1947, were mesmerized by the nostalgia and powerful force field of its former mining towns. After moving to Hill End, the couple painted it several times.
In documenting this particular Australian landscape today, Weir and his generation have taken over where they left off.
Nouveau rural: where to find it and how to create it, by Ingrid Weir, is published today by Hardie Grant, $ 60.