Say "Hi" to the Crauford Family
"There’s an immediate sense of calm living here"
In December 2019, Emma and Andrew Crauford and their three boys then 8, 13 and 16, moved their lives from Castle Hill in Sydney to the Bathurst Region.
Andrew’s parents have owned a 5 acre weekender in Oberon for close to 25 years, and Andrew and Emma’s boys had grown up as frequent visitors to the region, familiar with the landscape, and sampling rural life.
‘The boys would often remark as we headed home from a weekend in Oberon how good it would be to live there,” says mum Emma.
The decision to move took a relatively short time; just six months from the start of discussions to the purchase of their block of land in O’Connell, 20 minutes’ drive from Bathurst. The catalyst for the change came when Andrew was offered an opportunity by friend and Bathurst business owner, Patrick Bird of Ray White Emms Mooney real estate agency.
‘After 14 years at the helm of my own real estate office, Pat made the offer to join his established and successful business, so we sat down and drew up a list of pros and cons,’ says Andrew, ‘and we included our eldest son in the decision as it would affect his senior school years.’
‘For us to seriously consider the move the non-negotiables were jobs, and finding a church and school community that we could see ourselves belonging to,’ shares Emma. ‘We also wanted a plot of land to call our own, part of our dream was lots of open space.’
Deciding to settle in O’Connell, the Crauford’s purchased 25 acres of land, enrolled the boys in school at Scots All Saints College and began building their new home.
In moving from Sydney, the family left behind a lifestyle that had a constant frenzied pace, that had seen Andrew work in the high pressure industry of real estate for close to fourteen years. Working around the clock he would make it home to one family dinner a week.
‘In those years, Andrew often couldn’t even make it to his son’s weekend sport,’ Emma points out.
‘Since making the change, life has slowed to a more manageable pace. We used to have one family dinner a week, now we have one most nights. We feel like we have found a much more balanced life’
‘The school community has been incredibly welcoming. The classes are smaller, there’s more space; it feels a little less intense, and the gift to do agriculture at school has opened up new career paths.’
For Andrew the change in work/life balance has been profound. ‘Still working hard, the change from working 24/7 has been worth it’.
Andrew admits it took a little time to adjust to a slower, more peaceful life.
‘The kids would ask Emma if everything was OK, because they were not used to me being home at mid-day on a Saturday. The gift of more time together on the weekends has been one of many positives of the move.’
‘There’s an immediate sense of calm living here,’ notes Emma, adding she felt a notable absence of judgement or comparison amongst so many new friends.
‘No-one seems to care about what everyone else is doing. There’s a real acceptance and a lovely melting pot of people.’
‘It has been a friendly and warm place to settle,’ Emma notes.
The Crauford’s often welcome Sydney friends to their home and enjoy their observations on the ease with which the whole family has adjusted to regional life. They’ve also noticed their friends looking around with fresh eyes, giving real consideration to the great lifestyle and work/life balance available to them from such a change.
‘We love our friends’ reactions when they come and stay with us,’ says Emma, noting they have friends now buying property and weekenders in the region.
When asked to choose a favourite place in their new neighbourhood, Andrew and Emma are torn, saying it’s hard to nominate just one spot.
‘We love walking around the river in town, going to a local spot on the Fish River called Flat Rock, not far from our front gate and catching up with friends for a drink or a meal at different places.’
From their veranda the Crauford’s have a clear view across O’Connell Valley to Evan’s Crown and talk about their plans to walk its well-known hiking track, to enjoy another perspective of this regions stunning views.