Say "Hi" to the Roberts Family
"A friendly community, lots of work opportunities and a supportive place to live and raise a family"
Angela and Darren Roberts have been living their dream of raising a young family in the beautiful rural locale of White Rock in Bathurst for nearly seven years.
Darren is renovating their family 1930’s home and taming their large garden so their two children Hamish, 18 months old, and Sophie, seven, can run around barefoot.
‘We have about 10 acres of land which gives us plenty of space, with great climbing trees that Sophie plays hide-and-seek in,’ says Darren, pointing out the perfect hiding spots and the sturdy cubby house, play area and large, decades-old trees.
Both Angela and Darren were drawn west after living in Sydney. They met through work and are now raising their two children with a beautiful garden and views across fields and the Macquarie River to Mount Panorama Wahluu.
Angela grew up in the Sutherland Shire, where her extended family still live, and after completing her university studies in speech pathology she took her first job in Cowra.
When asked what she most appreciated at that time, she’s quick to reply, ‘No commute to work’. A welcome relief after fours year of enduring a four hour round trip to university.
After working in Cowra, Angela moved to Broken Hill, then Orange for 18 months before taking the opportunity to move to Bathurst for work with the local health service and to start her own business.
‘I really enjoy it here,’ says Angela, who highlights the space, the landscape, and the community as her greatest joys at the time of the move.
For those wondering what to expect from a move to Bathurst, Angela says, ‘a friendly community, lots of work opportunities and a supportive place to live and raise a family.’
Darren grew up in a farming family on large grazing properties at Yarrowitch in the New England Tablelands and then in the Upper Hunter Valley.
After working for the Upper Hunter County Council for seven years, Darren decided to change careers. He studied nursing at University of Technology Sydney and, after graduating, worked as a paediatric nurse at Sydney Children’s Hospital for seven years.
Darren describes the moment he decided to leave city living as life-changing.
‘I was driving home to Artarmon and fell asleep at the wheel. I wasn’t going fast, maybe 30km per hour in peak hour traffic and the ripple strips woke me up. At that moment I thought, ‘Is my job worth my life?’ and I went, ‘No!’,’ he says of the heart-stopping episode, matter-of-factly.
‘I knew there was a job going at Broken Hill and I applied for that and got it.
‘The team I worked with at Children’s Hospital was fabulous but as for living in Sydney, I was over it. I was going home to my family’s farm most weekends. I knew it was time to get out.’
Angela and Darren first met and became friends when both were working at Broken Hill Hospital in 2005. While Angela decided to settle in Bathurst, Darren moved to Dubbo to be closer to his Hunter Valley based family, when his father became ill. The two stayed in touch and started dating. With Angela in Bathurst, an opportunity arose for Darren to relocate his position also.
‘I was covering the entire district for my job and my boss came to me one day and said ‘you can move to Bathurst, I found you a desk’. So, before anyone could change their mind I moved,’ laughs Darren, reflecting on his 2011 move.
Darren is one of two people with his role in the region, through which he is responsible for an area loosely bounded by Oberon, Bourke, Cobar, Grenfell, Collarenabri, Coonabarabran, Coolah and Rylstone.
‘From a professional point of view there are lots opportunities for me to do whatever I’d like to do,’ says Darren.
NSW Health has supported both Angela and Darren with scholarships through Masters degrees and they agree professional opportunities are considerable in regional NSW.
Angela notes that one advantage of working in a regional area has been the chance to work in a more varied role in a generalist position, which would not have been possible in Sydney.
Darren’s professional growth has been similarly enhanced and possible from a younger age, thanks to the move to regional NSW.
‘I love the people I work with and in Sydney, the opportunity for me to step out of a clinical role and into a consultant role just would not have happened,’ he notes.
‘If I wanted to work in the position I now work in, I would have had to wait until someone retired and it would have been quite a few years down the track.’
Darren is able to work full-time four days a week, and generally spends Fridays with his children.
‘Before Sophie went to school we called Friday ‘Daddy-Sophie Day’ and now it’s ‘Daddy-Hamish Day’ with a day on the weekend turned into Daddy-Sophie Day,’ he says, clearly enjoying the special family time.
‘That’s the lifestyle, I love.’
Comparing life in Sydney to theirs in Bathurst, Angela notes their easy access to activities for the children and minimal time taken with school pick-ups.
‘When I was living in Sydney, particularly if there was a car accident, it would take me longer to get home from Randwick to Artarmon than what it used to take for me to drive from the farm in the Hunter to Artarmon,’ says Darren.
To access his office in Kelso, three kilometres away, it takes Darren less than five minutes in the car. Angela works at Bathurst Hospital, and it takes just 12 minutes to get from home to work, with a drop-off to day-care for Hamish on the way.
‘I often use the Bullet Train to get to work meetings in Sydney,’ adds Darren.
Living just two-to-three hours from Sydney has meant they are in a great escape location for city-based family. Angela’s mother, Clare, frequently makes the trip, as does her sister’s family.
‘We have our family use us as their holiday place,’ laughs Angela. ‘They love to come out and experience it for themselves.’
Reflecting on other attractive features of living in the region, the couple notes that the White Rock community has been incredibly welcoming.
‘We have a community Christmas party each year. We have afternoon tea with our neighbours each Sunday and the longer we stay the more young families we’re seeing coming here,’ says Angela.
We’re part of the local village progress association and have great neighbours,’ adds Darren.
‘We love our community here.’