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Escape to the country

Updated on April 11, 2016
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Travelling around Australia for the last fifty plus years, Jan T Baillie can tell you of some of her favourite places to visit.

It's time to take life easier

Life in a city of any size is becoming more and more 'full-on' in New South Wales (Australia).

Too much traffic, burglaries, noise, people...

We are both in our mid-sixties and felt it was time to have a quiter, more relaxed lifestyle.

Why not move to a quieter location, where people still say hello with their whole face, not just their mouth?

In this picture you can see our next door neighbour's house in our city area. Eight feet away!

Where will we go?

Seaside, or countryside?

We searched for more than two years, from the snow country near the Southern Alps, to the large country town where my father was born in the Upper Hunter Valley.

We made an offer on a shopfront in Nimmitabel, (near Cooma, which is close to Mt Kosciosko), but decided the house part was way too small for us.

How did we decide?

By accident, really...

We went to visit Bob's youngest son and his family, who had moved to Rylstone for work.

His partner was born there, and they had gone to be closer to some of her relatives.

On about our third visit we said to each other that we thought that Rylstone was such a pretty town, and that the people were very friendly.

We drove down and stayed in the tiny caravan park while we did some house hunting.

Old Rylstone cotage
Old Rylstone cotage

We made another offer

On a really old house

This charming little house was so quaint, and had a delightful cottage garden.

It was the first house built in Rylstone and I fell in love with it.

Unfortunately it was not the right house for us, after all.

(Image Capertee Real Estate)

We were outbid on this one - It, too, was pretty

21 Cox Street
21 Cox Street

Image Peter Druitt Real Estate

This is the one - We bought ourselves a country home

30 Cox Street
30 Cox Street

Image Peter Druitt Real Estate

See the overgrown conifers?

What a job to remove them

It was so overgrown, the trees almost reached the verandahs which are eight feet away. All the plantings underneath were smothered, and few survived.

Thirteen ute loads to the local tip for recycling as mulch later, we had a nice space to garden in.

A view of the massive trees - Pear tree, apple trees, flowering plums, conifers...


Image courtesy onthehouse.com.au

Some images from the real estate brochure

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The lounge room when we bought the houseThe kitchen as it was.The largest bedroom.Bedroom two with French doors to the side verandah.Bedroom three has French doors too.
The lounge room when we bought the house
The lounge room when we bought the house
The kitchen as it was.
The kitchen as it was.
The largest bedroom.
The largest bedroom.
Bedroom two with French doors to the side verandah.
Bedroom two with French doors to the side verandah.
Bedroom three has French doors too.
Bedroom three has French doors too.

Here it is with the front cleared - A view from across the street

30 Cox Street, after the trees were removed
30 Cox Street, after the trees were removed

You can see our armchair and chaise longue where we sit in the sun (when it's out) and have coffee.

We've planted lots more trees and flowering shrubs. Unfortunately, the three severe frosts in three days have killed off many of them.

But we will search out frost tolerant plants...

Yarrington Manor

That's what the mirrored plaque says

The house has had several owners, and lastly was owned by a prominent local family who named it "Yarrington Manor" which is proudly attached to the front of the house.

The Yarringtons had the local newsagency amongst other shops in the town, and this was the last place 'old Mrs Yarrington' lived in, and where she brought up her four daughters. One grand-daughter still works in the town's newsagency.

Glimpses of the Police Station - Across the road are reflected in the mirrored house name

House name
House name


The village has several sandstone cottages from the 19th century.

Catholic church Rylstone
Catholic church Rylstone

We walk to church

Down the main street

St Malachy's historic Catholic church had some restoration done in recent years.

It is so pretty inside as well as out.

Mass is only every second Sunday, and in Kandos (seven kilometres away) alternate weeks.

Everyone talks to us as they go by

Our house is at the end of the main street, so as we sit on the side verandah having coffee in the mornings, many townspeople walk down to the shops to get their daily needs.

They all greet us and say how much they like what we are doing to the yard.

Sammi (our mini foxie) thinks she owns Rylstone, so we had to teach her who was good so she didn't bark at the nice people!

In a city environment,people are always in such a hurry, they don't take the time to be chatty. They can also be a bit suspicious. Sad isn't it?

front garden at Tenambit
front garden at Tenambit

Downsizing is difficult

Or it can be

We moved from a spacious five bedroom house, with a small kitchen, a large family room, and a good sized lounge and dining room. The house also boasted a huge studio on the western side for my quiltmaking, and teaching.The garden was fairly compact, but pretty.

The new house has three average sized bedrooms, a large bathroom, a decent sized kitchen and a tiny loungeroom.

How to fit the contents into a much smaller house

Start by deleting. Delete anything that you haven't looked at for years.

  • Sell it.
  • Give it away.
  • Donate it.
  • Chuck it.

We did all that and still had to have a storage shed for extras until we got organised.

Bob told the moving men it was like fitting the contents of a shoebox into a matchbox.

One country boy's view on outback Queensland's lifestyle

Sound idyllic?

There are a few drawbacks!

We found the beautiful fireplace not at all efficient, so we replaced it with a built-in combustion fire, and as the temperature one day in May was -10 C, we need to keep the fire going so the cottage stays warm.

The temperature is mostly about -1 to -3 on winter days, and the frosts are horrendous. (Another story here!)

So we buy firewood (you need a licence to collect it) and keep some stacked on the back verandah to keep it dry. It's so cosy in the lounge.

Delightful touches - Like this original Victorian fireplace

Victorian fireplace
Victorian fireplace

The new fire - and restyled mantlepiece

Newly renovated fireplace
Newly renovated fireplace

The wood's cut - we'll be warm now!

wood pile on the back verandah
wood pile on the back verandah

© 2011 Jan T Urquhart Baillie

Have you made a tree change? - Tell us how it went

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    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 5 years ago from Australia

      @RinchenChodron: Just us and Sammi. Thanks for poping in...

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      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Very interesting. Thanks for all the photos. I am also retired, but only have a 2 bedroom condo. House swapping is a great way to vacation in theory - I've never tried it. Nor have I been to Queensland. I live in Denver, Colorado. Is it just the two of you traveling? Nice to learn something about you.

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 5 years ago from Australia

      @MelRootsNWrites: And how are things with you now? I hope life's a little easier!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for sharing your story! I had to downsize last year when I moved from the house I shared with my Dad to living with my Mom (I was taking care of my Dad before he died). Even with selling off stuff, donating, and recycling, I still have boxes loaded in the garage.

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 5 years ago from Australia

      @Ann Hinds: My garden looks a bit desert-like after winter, but bulbs planted by Mrs Yarrington have begun to show their pretty spring regalia. I'm glad you came to see us.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      Your house is lovely.. We have already downsized but do not have areas like yours since our countryside is mostly desert. Still, we live in a smaller town where everyone knows everyone and running into someone you know is the norm. Even though we have downsized, clutter has a life of its own and we are constantly fighting it back. Great lens!

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 6 years ago from Australia

      @jmsp206: Hard, but rewarding! De-cluttering is free-ing. I'm growing winter veges too.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Lovely to lead a simple life!Very brave move must be hard to down size.Look at those fire places though!

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 6 years ago from Australia

      @happynutritionist: We are now aged pensioners, so we don't have to worry about taxes and other mundane stuff! Thanks for dropping in!

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      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      We often think of moving...but we already have a small home and it's already in the country...it would be hard to leave...though small we raised our children here. Now it's perfect for just 2 except taxes are high here. Time will tell...but as I think about these things, I love to read about how others have made their moves, so found this interesting!

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 6 years ago from Australia

      @annieangel1: I still have to do lots more culling! I still can't fit my quilting frame in.. Sigh!

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 6 years ago

      I find if I take unwanted stuff to a charity shop I don't feel guilty about it.

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 6 years ago from Australia

      @Elle-Dee-Esse: You'll have to tell me when you come down next and see some crazy patch in person.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      I know Rylstone very well. We love Dunn's Swamp which is about three hours from us and is a gorgeous camping spot. Freecycle is a great organisation to use for giving away stuff you no longer need.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      thanks for sharing your journey - good tip about giving away stuff you don't need.

    • JanTUB profile image
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      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 6 years ago from Australia

      @thesuccess2: And that's where most of it went, as well as to a single Mum we know who doesn't have a lot. Thanks for dropping in.