What’s it really like moving to the country?

13 October 2021

You know you are a City Slicker when a kangaroo the size of a rugby player is manhandling your dog and you reach for your phone to call the police.

True story.

I moved to Griffith, NSW a few months after COVID hit Australian shores in 2020. Everyone says they move to Sydney or Melbourne in search of career opportunities, well I did the opposite.

I began my career as a high school teacher before reaching 30-something and realizing I needed a change. After ten years in education, with a secure job and a comfortable pay packet I took a leap and retrained in journalism and media.

And then COVID hit…

Publications started shuttering and hundreds of journos across Australia lost their jobs. I was panicking. So, my partner and I packed the car and left Sydney for Griffith, NSW.

Griffith? Where on earth is that?

After a challenging start, (the kangaroo story being a moment in which I thought, “this CANNOT be my life”) a few weeks later, I landed my first journo job as a daily reporter for the local Griffith newspaper. I feel confident in saying if I had stayed in Sydney, I would never have even got a look in. My age, perhaps my gender, and definitely my ‘freshness’ to the industry would have sent me to the bottom of the 200-applicant-sized pile.

Being a local journalist for a country town paper you get to see how a place ticks. I got to know Griffith well, chatting with the locals and writing their stories. I learned that when I wanted to really know what was going on, I needed to go to the hairdressers, teachers, librarians and Nonnas! In other words, the women.

If you want something done you’ve got to do it yourself. This is the unspoken mantra of the women I met in Griffith.

No women’s refuge for survivors of family violence? Start one.

No affordable childcare for migrant families? Open one and staff it with volunteers.

No activities for teens besides sports? Start a theatre troupe and free art classes.

No services for people with vision impairments? Appeal to the community and raise thousands of dollars to put them in place.

All these incredible women, turning the wheels of the town every day, without any acknowledgement or recognition, ensuring that no one in their communities was left behind.

I decided to take a page out of their book.

Six months into my miracle job I resigned, and along with two friends, I started my own community women’s magazine and online platform, Mona Magazine.

I wanted to celebrate the stories and experiences of rural and regional women, from their perspective. Mona supports women to write their own stories and connect with one another to share their triumphs, challenges, ideas, expertise and lived experience.

We publish art, photography, essays, memoir, poetry, short fiction and experimental forms all written or produced by rural and regional women. And not to blow my own trumpet here but we have been floored by the response and support of the community. We sold half of our first edition stock before we had even printed it!

There is a wild hunger for stories of the bush, especially for those that you don’t typically see on the pages of Australia’s media. I often have to pinch myself that I am the lucky woman who gets to bring those stories to their audience.

There is a version of myself, in a parallel universe somewhere, (who has no idea that kangaroos can wrestle) slaving in a newsroom in Sydney, unaware of how much her life could change if she just moved to the country.