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Real Life

From city slicker to a life on the land: This is what happened when reporter Annabelle Hickson packed up her life and moved to a farm in remote NSW

Annabelle Hickson is using her voice to encourage others to take up life in the country.

By Brigid Auchettl
Annabelle Hickson was used to chasing deadlines, long commutes and the buzz of a busy newsroom.
But seven years ago the former reporter packed up her life in Brisbane, Queensland, to move to a pecan farm in remote NSW after meeting her husband Ed.
Now she spends her days chasing chickens and tending to her garden after quitting her job to follow her heart.
"I was really on track for my career, but then love changed it all," says Annabelle, who is raising their three children, Daisy, 11, Tom, nine, and Harriet, eight, on their property in the Dumaresq Valley, 80 kilometres from the nearest town of Tenterfield on the NSW-Queensland border.
"It never crossed my mind to live a regional life but I fell in love with a farmer and that's what bought me to the country," she says of Ed, 46.
Surrounded by tall trees and sweeping paddocks, the farm is an idyllic playground for the three children.
The siblings love nothing more than spending their days racing through the paddocks on their motorbikes, swimming in the river or helping Dad with the harvest.
The family are thriving. (Supplied: Annabelle Hickson)
"I knew it would be great for the kids – it's all about learning and freedom," says Annabelle.
"You learn to stand on your own two feet. They understand choices have consequences. If they leave the gate open, the chickens will get out and if they take a corner too fast they'll fall off the motorbike."
Annabelle admits the transition from city slicker to country creative wasn't always easy. Isolated with young children it was a steep learning curve for the 40-year-old former Brisbanian who found herself living in a house on a hill surrounded by 200 hectares of pecans.
Her nearest neighbour is kilometres away.
Annabelle couldn't be happier on her farm. (Supplied: Annabelle Hickson)
"When we first moved I was scared of having no social life or career but I couldn't have been more wrong," says Annabelle. "There is a good network of people out here who are super supportive."
Worried about finding work, Annabelle took matters into her own hands, taking up photography and floristry.
Now, the busy mum spends her days juggling farm duties with her work as a florist, podcaster, author and editor of Galah magazine, sharing stories of artistic and inspiring people in rural areas.
"My experience on the farm has been overwhelmingly positive and the voices that do usually get heard from the country are people talking about how hard it is. I was sick of it," says Annabelle, who published the first issue of Galah in December last year.
Annabelle says the kids have more freedom in the country. (Supplied: Annabelle Hickson)
"I was motivated to make a publication focusing on the amazing people I know. If we want to attract young people out to the bush we need to talk about how fantastic it can be. I want to tell those stories."
And while Annabelle admits she would never change her life on the farm, there are nights when she misses the creature comforts of city life.
"Some nights I just think what I would give to order a pizza!" she laughs.
"On the flipside, I've become a really good cook. Living on the farm an hour from the supermarket, I can live with a lot less than I thought I needed."
To purchase Annabelle's magazine Galah visit: galahpress.com

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