Moving from a suburban block in Queanbeyan to a rural property in Yass two years ago was a no-brainer for the Eldridge family. They’ve embraced the country lifestyle without sacrificing the city convenience.
Anthony was raised on the land and craving farm life. So he, Carrie and their four young children started looking for a rural lot close to Canberra, but hadn’t really considered Yass as an option.
They looked around Sutton and Carwoola, but found Yass to be a much more affordable option. Plus the township offered all the modern conveniences including supermarkets, schools and health services.
The couple now home-schools the children and continues to run two service businesses, E2 Learning and E2 Bookkeeping from the farm. Carrie and Anthony have also returned to their transport roots, kick-starting their One to 4 transport service.
Carrie says living at Yass has provided the family with the work-life balance they were craving.
“We had been looking for a long time to find something with a bit more space for our children to enjoy their hobbies such as woodwork and motorbike riding – things you can’t really do on a residential block,” she says.
“One of the big pros of living on a rural property is the family connection. As a family we get out on the block and do work together, but at the same time we haven’t lost the city convenience.”
The family now raises sheep, keeps bees and grows fruit, olives and vegetables.
For Anthony, the paddock-to-plate concept is important. He wants his children involved in growing their own produce and knowing where their food comes from.
“Showing them skills like bottling and preserving fruit, making sauces… all the types of things we wouldn’t have done in Queanbeyan,” he says.
“It’s a big part of their schooling and teaching sustainability at home.”
Having extra space allowed Anthony to start their small transport business, providing deliveries to farmers in the area.
“One to 4 came out of being here,” he says.
“I realised the lifestyle blocks had a need for bigger deliveries, but not full truck loads. Things such as fertiliser, sand or gravel.
“The other side of the business is to provide a platform to bring resources into the transport industry. One to 4 trains P2-ers upwards to drive the trucks and gives them a leg-up into the industry, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”
Being rural has proven no barrier for Carrie and her two businesses, which are thriving with the growing popularity of online services.
“Only about 20 per cent of my business is face-to-face,” she says.
“I’m exporting to New Zealand, for example, and because Yass has good internet infrastructure, we can have the lifestyle and still run our businesses here.”
A Multisensory Structured Literacy (MSL) practice, E2 Learning provides specialised reading and writing intervention for students of all ages with a neuro-diversity such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism.
The couple joined Yass Valley Business Chamber not long after settling in. Anthony has recently taken on the role as treasurer.
He says the chamber and Yass business community have been welcoming since day one.
“They’re amazing people who want an even-balanced voice for the community,” Anthony says.
“Not only did we get to know and network with local business owners, we felt welcome to contribute our ideas.”
Carrie says the chamber does a “wonderful job connecting like-minded businesses and has an excellent relationship with Yass Valley Council”.
The couple says Yass is welcoming and understanding.
“If you don’t want to be involved, you don’t have to, but if you do, there’s so much on,” Carrie says.
“There are lots of activities for families including kids’ sports, late night Christmas shopping and the Irish and Celtic Music Festival.
“There are lots of charities here that get behind events. They just make things happen.”
While they enjoy the serenity and privacy of rural life, Carrie says they can catch up with friends for coffee in town five minutes away.
“We couldn’t have done that in Carwoola or on the other side of Canberra where you’re 25 minutes away from the shops,” she says.
“Yass has got everything.”