I used to spend my life on a horse and trav­elled all around NSW com­pet­ing, so my 17-year-old self would never have imag­ined that I would

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end up where I am to­day — work­ing in an of­fice and with­out a horse, al­though I’m try­ing to rec­tify that last bit. (Ev­ery­one jokes that any story with a horsey an­gle will make it into the pages of Coun­try Style and I have to ad­mit that they might have a point.) Chris­tian and Laura Hayes of Hid­den Trails by Horse­back, on page 104, re­ally do have my dream job. They spend their days guid­ing rid­ers through some of Aus­tralia’s most spec­tac­u­lar land­scapes, from the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try near their home just out­side Mans­field to West­ern Aus­tralia’s East Kimberley re­gion. One day I would love to go along with them, but there are many other in­spir­ing travel sto­ries in this is­sue. On page 88, pho­tog­ra­pher Ab­bie Melle’s di­ary of the time she spent in the English coun­try­side, near the vil­lage of Shaftes­bury, has made me dream of do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar — I much pre­fer spend­ing time in only a cou­ple of places when I travel, I’m def­i­nitely not a 10 cities in a fort­night sort of per­son! Mak­ing big changes in your life takes courage and I re­ally ad­mire Car­lie Oates and her hus­band Jar­rod Med­ley’s de­ci­sion to bring their young fam­ily up in the coun­try. The cou­ple moved to Ju­giong four years ago and have no re­grets — aside from Car­lie’s dis­like of brown snakes. “The coun­try is raw and hon­est, and there is no hid­ing your mis­takes — and we’ve made many. But we’ve also learnt that the land for­gives you and to­mor­row is a new day, which will no doubt start with a beau­ti­ful sun­rise. We con­sider our­selves lucky to be part of such a warm com­mu­nity,” she says. Many of you may re­mem­ber our Heir­loom story on Bill Be­van, the 94-year-old former truck driver who made the fluffi­est sponge on the NSW south coast. Sadly, as this is­sue went to print, his daugh­ter Sharne told me that Bill had passed away. Our con­do­lences to his fam­ily.

Vic­to­ria Carey

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