Going back in time for #lifethisweek

City mouse becomes country mouse

Do you know the children’s story, an Aesop fable about the City Mouse and the Country Mouse – well this sort of reminds me of that tale – at a stretch!

Looking back

I wrote this on my Facebook page earlier this week:

So many memories….this month it’s been 30 years since we packed up our city lives in Newcastle and moved to the country (we really were ahead of the times). I can clearly remember those first few days here, getting used to a small town where everyone knew we’d arrived and who we were, riding my bike everywhere with Eliza on the back, taking the girls to the pool, getting ready for the new school year and coping with the heat!

We couldn’t imagine living anywhere else now and love the life we have here, although technically we still aren’t considered locals.

Looking back, we are all glad we accepted the move and the start of a new adventure.

The back story to this is typical of many other teachers wanting to get ahead in their careers at the time.

The Mathematician studied to become a teacher under a government scholarship scheme back in the late 70s. We were married in early 1980 and saved to buy own first home together which we achieved a few years later.

old house in the city
old house in the city

He was able to note down his selection of areas and schools to be sent to once he graduated and of course he was sent to a school in the very opposite direction of his requests!

After living most of our lives on the south coast of NSW we were destined to become city mouses in the city of Newcastle further up the coast of NSW.

But we moved on with our new life together and took it in our stride, moving away from family and managing quite well. It wasn’t as if we were half a world away!

We were keen to start a family once we had our house and we welcomed our first daughter in mid 1983, bringing her home to a partly renovated, but still functional space. She didn’t care about the state of the house! My father had been far more concerned when he saw the house we’d bought, saying it should be knocked down!

Two more daughters were added to our family over the next few years and we enjoyed our lifestyle in suburban Newcastle. Life wasn’t easy on one wage but we managed OK. I was able to return to part-time work in the bank after a few years.

Making the move to Tumbarumba

The Mathematician undertook further study to gain his ‘list’ so that he could apply for Head Teacher positions. We were keen to look at country positions, as although we enjoyed the lifestyle we had, we were keen to bring our daughters up in a smaller community and in the countryside. We were ahead of our time with wanting a ‘tree change’.

In late 1990, (like 23 December), we were informed that he’d been successful in gaining a Head Teacher position in Tumbarumba – a place we’d never heard of, let alone been to! It’s in the Snowy Mountains area of southern NSW.

I remember asking my aunt who lived in a nearby town, what Tumbarumba was like, and she was silent for so many minutes I wondered if the line had been disconnected! Finally she said, ‘well there’s a lot of trees’, it was a case of what she didn’t say! Apparently she was horrified we were going there!

We travelled down to see the town after Christmas that year and managed to find a house to rent which was hard at the time, and still is to this day, and arranged our move for the following month to be ready for the new school year. So much change in a short amount of time!

We met some lovely local families and the town had a good feel about it, but it was so much smaller than I was used to with shops shutting for lunch and everything closed at lunchtime on Saturday, not to re-open until Monday morning! I had to lose my city mouse expectations!

I remember the day we visited was blisteringly hot, the area was dry and yet there were still wood heaps in all the yards – later I learned they were for the winter wood fires that everyone had as heating! Wood carting was something I would become accustomed to seeing, starting in January and continuing most of the year!

When we packed up our little city house and moved I felt sad, but also excited about new horizons and challenges ahead. The girls were sad at leaving their friends but accepted the move quite well.

Our first few days were interesting! Everyone knew who we were without the need to tell them anything. I took the girls to the local pool and it seemed that every face turned towards us as we entered. The pool manager said ‘you’d be the new maths master’s family‘, and I wondered if I had something tattooed on my forehead. I asked him how he knew who we were and he just smiled wryly, and said it was obvious, they’d heard a new maths master was coming with a wife and 3 young daughters, and here I was…

One of my biggest lessons was timing. I was used to travelling across a city to get anywhere and allowing time for that, but in Tumbarumba I didn’t need to allow any time and so was often very early for appointments!!

Another lesson I learnt early on was that many people were related in town and to watch what I said in case I offended anyone.

I also learnt to always have a full tank of petrol in the car ready for any midnight emergency dashes as fuel wasn’t available after about 7pm until 7am the next day! This was brought home again to me this week when I made the rookie mistake of not having enough fuel to leave when my daughter was having tests on her unborn baby and I wanted to get there to help out – a 3 hour drive away!


Town has changed a lot over the past 30 years, it’s much more accepting of new arrivals, not as insular or isolated and the community spirit lives on. It has been a great place to bring up our daughters and we have all thrived in this environment. We’ve made many life-long friends and connections and feel a part of this vibrant little town.

Tumbarumba Creekscape
Tumbarumba Creekscape

It’s a beautiful part of the world and although a long way away from anywhere, it’s a perfect location as a base for us now that we’re retired. I was continually asked where we were moving to once we retired, as if we couldn’t wait to get away, but we aren’t going anywhere! we don’t even know where we’d consider moving to if we wanted to move, which we don’t!

When we arrived we were considered as ‘blow ins’, like bank staff, forestry workers and other teachers – we were all expected to move on after a few years – but many of us have stayed on. Apparently you’re not a local until the last people who remember you arriving have died!

Paddy's River Falls near Tumbarumba
Paddy’s River Falls near Tumbarumba

In response to my Facebook post (above) many fo our local friends say they consider us as locals and welcome the fact that we moved here all those years ago, and stayed on! I felt refreshed by their sentiments. We have both become very involved in the local community and feel grateful for the acceptance and welcome we received all those years ago.

We went on to buy a house and make a life for ourselves and haven’t regretted the decision we made 30 years ago, to become country mouses!

Little did we know that the next year, 1992, we would be moving the family across the world to live and work in England on a Teacher Exchange for a year swapping our lives with an English family!

You never know where life will take you unless you boldly take the opportunities as they are presented!

Thanks for dropping by, I hope you’ve enjoyed my story.

Deb xx

Linking up with Denyse for #lifethisweek with the prompt of Back to…thanks for the memories!

Also linking up with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share where there are some great bloggers joining in!

You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.

Debbie - mother of a 40 year old

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

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48 Replies to “Going back in time for #lifethisweek”

  1. I loved learning more about you through this post, Debbie. I also love how this post so brilliantly highlights your Word of the Year. “Boldly go where few people have gone before.” (okay, so I modified the quote a bit, but it is still pretty close). 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thanks Donna, these types of memories are special as they’ve helped make me the person I am today, so it’s good to reflect on them. I am really enjoying being bold 🙂


  2. What a lovely story to read Deb! I must admit I’m a little envious because I crave a more rural lifestyle and have done so for a long time. I hope that eventually this dream of mine will become a reality. I love your photos – what a beautiful place Tumbarumba is! Hope you have a wonderful week! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thanks Min, I’m really pleased you enjoyed reading my thoughts. I can’t believe we’ve been here for 30 years sometimes but we really do love our lifestyle. I hope you can realise your dream one day!


  3. As I read this Deb I remembered that your WOTY is bold, it seems to me that you’ve been living boldly for many years. You are so fortunate that the small town you found yourselves moving to, turned out the be very kind to you, this was a lovely reflection post #lifethisweek

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Jennifer, I did think much the same as I was writing it up!! I have been bold throughout my life but maybe I just didn’t realise it until now! We are very lucky to have been accepted into the town and we continue to be very happy living here. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it and thanks for the reminder of my boldness!


  4. Loved reading your story Deb and how you came to live your life in Tumba. We’ve just spent the last four days camping in the Upper Murray region, visiting towns like Corryong, Walwa etc that aren’t too far away from Tumba. Locals have been very friendly and welcoming. Thanks again Deb for sharing your special memories. xx 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Miriam, thanks for reading my story. You were very close to us, and I’m pleased to hear you’ve been well looked after in your travels. Such a beautiful place down there on the river.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Deb, I had a very similar experience when we moved to a small town in the Northern Territory for a year. It had 3000 people, and everyone knew all about everyone else. I loved the community spirit, especially amongst hospital staff, ambo’s and cops. A lot of us were from other parts of the world so we could relate to each other. I was only there for a year, when my sons were 18months and 4 1/2.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Christina, I’m glad you also had a similar experience in your small town, it makes such a difference to fitting in. What a great experience for you and your boys.


  6. What a fun story! I really enjoyed reading about all these changes that entered your life over the years. And our kids are about the same ages, my boys were born in 1984 and 1988. Now giving me grandchildren – even better!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Deb – I did the first three years of my dental therapy career in small country towns – such an interesting dynamic and it certainly made me more open to moving to the country when we decided it would be a nicer place to bring up our children than the little suburban place we had in Perth. 23 years on a 2 acre block (with woodfire heating) proved that we were definitely country folk – and 12 years in country “suburbia” has shown me that I’ll never be a town mouse ever again – give me the quiet of the country any day, so I totally understand the appeal of where you are + your lovely sunroom of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s such a wonderful account of your life’s most important phase…loved reading it. It was like reading my future course when we settle down post retirement in a small town like yours. Thanks for sharing.☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I sometimes wonder what makes a person feel settled where they are. My seachange was to a coastal town neighbouring my childhood home town. It’s far more affordable than the Sunshine Coast and I think I wanted to be closer to mum (still in our hometown) because my father had recently passed away and I was conscious she’d been his carer for years and needed to make sure someone is there for her.

    Obviously I’m here now until my mum is no longer around but I don’t feel like I love the place enough to stay here long-term. It’s weird that I don’t feel that connection (to the place and the people). I don’t know if that will change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is weird why some places just click and others take a while to grow on us. I’m just lucky that we found somewhere we were all happy with without too much trouble. I can see your reasons for a sea change but agree a connection is vital to being settled and happy long-term. Thanks for your thoughts and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing a slice of your life, Debbie. Isn’t it interesting to look back and think about how each decision–some major like this one and some seemingly small–took our lives in a different direction? I loved seeing the photos from that time period too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Deb! I have never heard of Tumbarumba before, but it looks like a beautiful place. I can’t imagine living in a place where you can’t buy gas from 7 pm to 7 am! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This was a lovely trip down memory lane. I didn’t know you lived near the Snowy Mountains! I knew it was Tumbarumba but for some reason, I kept thinking it was up north! Don’t ask me why. It sounds like a lovely 30 years and that you’re well and truly home.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s a great story – thank you for sharing it! As someone who has moved very little and, when I have, it wasn’t very far, I really admire those who just pick up and move great distances… even to other countries. Although I love my hometown, I have often thought about living somewhere else, even for just a year or two (I wonder if there are “Retiree Exchange” programs? 🙂 ).

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Having grown up in a small town where just about everyone knows everyone I had to smile at your acclimation to small town life. I would be just as lost trying to adjust to life in a city or large suburb.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. So many memories that are similar here Deb. We did our country service over and over by being all around NSW for the first 8 years of marriage. My husband got a list promotion from one of the most isolated schools in NSW and he was appointed to Turramurra. He had never lived in Sydney, and I had grown up on the Northern Beaches but certainly couldn’t afford to buy there even on two teachers’ salaries. My appointment was initially to one northwest school and then another where I was more settled, and it was in Baulkham Hills. We found a simple house to buy in newly opened Kellyville and settled there. House $44,600!! I love that you settled where you are. Yes, getting used to shops and businesses shutting for lunch in the country. Still happens I think. We also had to use party lines for the phone and only between 8 am and 9 pm. We so need to catch up!!

    Thank you for sharing your post in Life This Week, the Monday link up on my blog. Each Monday, there is an optional prompt but you can link up a post (just one) old or new, on or off prompt. Next week’s is 4/51 Cannot. 25 Jan.Hope to see you back here then. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denyse, I can imagine you have very similar memories of teaching all over the place and the whole system in general! One of the teachers who moved to Tumbarumba in the early days thought her appointment notice said Turramurra but it actually said Tumbarumba and she was late arriving as a result! We certainly do need to catch up, so much we could talk about. Thanks for the great prompt, I enjoyed writing this post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I can totally relate to this! My husband and myself moved from Sweden to a small town in Ireland two years ago. This place has been like home for many years for us though, and we already knew a lot of people and they knew us, because we’ve lived here before (12 years ago but only for a year), and also we’re (amateur) musicians and join the local music sessions. So we quickly were a part of he local life, although very likely we will be “the Swedes” or at least not locals for many years and maybe forever.
    Still, we don’t mind because we feel like locals! And we feel welcome and have made many new friends during these two years. Now we just need to get back to being able to see them again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great story Susanne, thanks for sharing your experiences too. A great way to get involved in a community is to join groups as you say. Feeling like a local is always a good feeling!


  17. Thank you for sharing a part of your life, Debbie, and linking up with Weekend Coffee Share. This post is an example of how you’ve “boldly” managed major changes like moving to live in a small town or in the UK. Bold as your WOTY is right on.

    BTW, if you could mention Weekend Coffee Share link up somewhere in your post, I’d greatly appreciate it. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Natalie, I have updated the post to include a link to your coffee share post, sorry I’ve been a bit distracted lately with a new arrival in the family! I am enjoying being bold so far!


  18. This is a lovely read, I really enjoyed it! I too hope to one day buy myself a small house in the countryside. As for snow I have a great teaching position as a first teacher in a town. I’m a single mom with two children, and for now it is convenient to live where we do, but my soul craves the countryside. It might happen when my son finishes college. It will happen one day 🙂 Thank you for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Some people don’t take to life ion the country but I can honestly say it’s been the best thing we’ve ever done. Hope your dream comes true one day!


  19. You remind me, Deb, how life is an adventure. And home is where you and your family live, wherever that may be. Wonderful photos! I have not forgotten how you mentioned “…have a full tank of petrol…” and I even mentioned this to my husband. A great post on many levels! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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