We often get asked ‘How’d you end up in Daylesford?’. It’s a good question, and one you hear a lot around here, since there are so many people who’ve somehow ended up here, rather than being born and bred here. You hear lots of different answers, and it seems that we have quite a few answers to our little story, too.
First, there’s the obvious reasons. It’s beautiful. Like, seriously beautiful… especially in Autumn when the leaves change, or the steam rises off the lake on a chilly morning. The icy winters – while a challenge on their own – make you feel like you’re in Europe, not country Australia (and are perfect for us because we love the cold… and my superwhite skin is allergic to the sun!). Then there’s the amazing food and abundance of cafés and restaurants. It’s very accepting and gay friendly in a way that many country towns just aren’t. And it’s all just over an hour drive to Melbourne to get you big city shopping/culture/traffic jam fix. But then there’s the personal reasons, and that’s where everyone’s story starts to differ.
As I touched on here, I was frustrated with my career. Sure my job was great, but I’d been working in graphic design and advertising agencies since I was 20 and I was just over it. I’d become a Creative Director and worked on many great household-name brands, but I had that typical creative personality trait where you always want to try something new…
That’s where mid-century furniture came in. It had been a passion of mine for years: collecting, restoring, selling a chair to buy another chair I’d recently developed a schoolgirl-like crush on.
Then one June, whilst on a little winter holiday for my birthday in Daylesford, we were sitting in the window at The Farmers Arms (really great pub food if you’re yet to try it). It was snowing outside. Ben and I were chatting about work and life in general… and no doubt a little about the next vintage piece we were thinking of buying. Then it hit me, like some sort of epiphany. “Why don’t I try and do vintage furniture for a living?” We could move to the country, get a bit more space to restore things than we had in our little inner-city apartment, and I could buy and sell vintage pieces since I am obsessed so passionate about it. It’d be less stressful, more relaxed, we’d have more time to do… nothing in particular. It’d be great!
After a lot of “should-we/shouldn’t we?” consideration, worry about leaving the comfort and convenience of the city (and of our paychecks), we finally took the plunge at the end of 2013. And the truth is… it’s great! It’s a more open, welcoming community than I’d ever expected. I think since almost everyone had come here from somewhere else and were in the “newbie” position at some stage, they are quick to make you feel at home. It’s something I definitely want to do when I meet newcomers in the future.
Then Ben landed a perfect marketing job at the absolutely stunning Lake House (seriously, do yourself a favour if you haven’t eaten there before) a few months after the move. For almost 8 months I did the commute to Melbourne. My best advice for those thinking about it is… don’t do it! Not every day anyway, and definitely not if you work in advertising and a 9pm end to the day is all too common. Life’s too short to spend three or four hours a day commuting with no free time left over. Time is just too precious.
Time is also the only thing I thought we’d get more of with the tree-change but didn’t. Sourcing and restoring furniture takes up most my time, then working at the inspiring and beautiful Bromley & Co gallery a few days a week, then throw in the occasional restoration for a client or freelance design job and there’s not a lot of free time for, well, anything really. The dust in our house and weeds in our garden are an everyday reminder of how busy life can get, even in the sleepy countryside!
Don’t get me wrong, I love that we’ve established a busy, full life in a new town in such a short time. In fact, every time we stroll around the lake in the morning I feel so lucky to live here (seriously, look at the pic above... how gorgeous is our little lake?!)... and like I've figured out some secret that I just didn't know when I lived in the city. I’m infinitely more happy here than I remember being for a long time. We just need to work on getting some of that illusive thing called “balance”. And we’ll work it out eventually. But in the meantime, I’m just content with the fact that we’ve made a big change for the better.
Ash von Braun
Happy tree-changer and vintage furniture dealer living in Dayesford, Australia.