A New Home for McGee Flutes!
A growing family is rapidly making our house in Canberra too small. We could extend, sure enough, or we could move elsewhere in Canberra. But after 46 years in what is often derided as one of the coldest and most boring cities in Australia, perhaps it's time for a more ambitious move. Somewhere "where the climate suits my clothes..."
When the planners were looking for a site for the National Capital, they wisely considered the risks. They could foresee a time when ships' guns might be expected to have a range of 100 miles, so they decided that Canberra should be built at least that far inland. That seems to be the least of the risks we need to consider these days!
Now 100 miles inland unfortunately places you rather a long way from the beach. In this region, it also places you 700 metres (2000 ft) higher up, so the climate is a bit more extreme. Not very extreme (by comparison with the North American climate), but distinctly chilly on winter nights and tending a bit hot in summer. By comparison, the weather at the coast is much more benign.
But where on the coast - there is rather a lot of it! We decided we didn't want to go too far north - it gets hotter and more populated. Or too far south - the water gets colder.
So we scoured the New South Wales coast from south of Nowra down to Eden. It's all magnificent, if anything getting prettier as you go south. Then we considered accessibility to the major centres of Canberra and Sydney and decided that the Batemans Bay region is about as south as we'd like to go.
Focusing in on the Batemans Bay region, we stumbled onto a block in a quiet cul-de-sac in Lilli Pilli, plenty big enough for a growing family, with natural bush reserve at the back of the block, and within a few minutes of a range of stunning and varied beaches.
The reserve at the back of the block.
Side view looking to neighbours
There are a number of beaches within a few minute's drive...
An inviting track leading off into the bush on the headland at Circuit beach
Lilli Pilli Beach:
Two views of our nearest beach:
The lovely Garden Bay, where I oft went skin-diving in my younger days .... and will again!
There's an element of deja-vu in all of this - my parents lived for many years in the closely adjoining area of Malua Bay - Garden Bay was the nearest beach to their home. Indeed Dad is buried in the cemetery in nearby Batemans Bay.
The images were taken in spring, at the start of October, and even then people are swimming!
So what's a Lillipilli?
A small native fruit also called a riberry, aboriginal bush tucker, now coming to the attention of European chefs - you'll find recipes for such delights as Lillipilli Whip, Lillipilli Sorbet and Lillipilly Jam on the web. Presumably and hopefully, we can find some lillipillis in Lilli Pilli, perhaps right in the reserve at the back of our block.
Older than you think
I must admit, I always assumed that the Batemans Bay region was a relatively recent development, an offshoot perhaps of Canberrans seeking the nearest beach. So wasn't I surprised when I looked up the history of the region! Turns out that Captain Cook spotted the bay in 1770, even before he had discovered Sydney Cove. He noted it in his log, naming it after a previous superior officer he had served under. The local Yuin people of course had their own name for it but Cook didn't come ashore to find out - he was searching for a bigger port! European settlement seems to have started with timber getters in the early 19th century and developed quickly during the gold rush (Gold was found at Nelligen and Mogo and a staggering 26 tonnes taken out of Araluen.) We're going to enjoy finding out more about the history of the region.
Building a house
So, we've secured the block of land at 35 Bunderra Circuit, Lilli Pilli, NSW - next job is to design and build a house there. The NSW Government now sets down stringent requirements for sustainability on new housing developments, in matters such as passive solar design, bushfire safety, unassisted ventilation, and recycling of rain, storm and greywater - we're going to enjoy designing a house that can achieve all this and more and that will bring that uplifting view of unspoiled bush into our home.
That will take us up to about September 2006. This page will keep you posted on progress!