Green pastures

Michael named us. He’s good with words. “Us” are three couples who decided on living together in our “retirement” * about 12 years ago.

We’ve all known each other for decades and started sharing our holidays long ago. When we thought about our future, it occurred to us that a home in the country was a more enticing option than a retirement village. So, that’s when we started taking Steps.

The Team consists of Michael and Judy, who I met through Iyengar yoga in the late 70’s; Heather and Rick, who I met through the EST training and the Forum; and Daniel and me. Five of us are into yoga, and Rick is still, at the time of this writing, a hold-out.

Step One: Choosing where, what kind of a property and what size we wanted to buy. This was tricky. It’s not that easy for 6 strong-minded people to agree on big decisions. You won’t believe it, we actually looked at a 200-acre property. It didn’t take too long to come to our collective senses, and soon we settled on a 4-acre spread on Mitchells Island, and this is where the shed comes in. A kind of glorified cabin with kitchen, bedrooms, open-plan living, big bathroom/laundry, even a hills hoist – we could plan on being happily accommodated in such a shed.

Step Two: Getting to know Mitchells Island. The mid-north coast where it comes up against the Manning River became our new holiday destination for Christmas/New Year’s, Easter, Queen’s B-day, Labour Day, and any other weekends besides. One to three couples would make the 4 hr. drive up the Pacific Hwy, often along with all of the rest of the Sydney escapees. If we were all at the shed at the same time, the six of us would fill up the 72 squares. Two couples got one 3 x 3 bedroom each, and the third couple got the mattress in the “lounge”. I would say that we got along remarkably well on these holidays, considering the relatively small space. Fortunately the Island has some inviting attractions – river recreational activities, an ocean beach, even a café or two and a general store.

Eve & Heather & the Pink Sofa

Step Three: Living together. To test the theory that we could all live “tout ensemble”, we decided to trial living together in a communal house in Sydney. Some of our friends and family thought we’d gone bonkers – ageing hippies harking back to university communal living; others thought worse thoughts. About this time, a couple of documentary filmmakers, Lesley and Rod, approached us about making a film of our project. They took on filming every move we made for awhile, and after about a year and a half, for various reasons, (mainly, we didn’t generate enough conflict) they had to give up.

We really struck it lucky in finding a waterfront, three-level house in Longueville to rent. We consolidated our possessions, and moved in in March 2006. The six of us had our moments, but, hey, we were living together in Paradise, and mostly harmoniously for two years. I recorded this early communal experience in my first blog (2006) called The Ville Blog.

Step Four: Designing and building a house. This was the Putting-Your-Money-Where-Your-Mouth-Is stage. There were lots of meetings where our various strong personalities flexed their muscles and forged the plan for our future house. We agreed on an amazing house designer who specialises in passive solar design. After workshopping our ideas, we were able to give him a brief – one that we had to keep fine-tuning to reflect our slender budget. The Good Fortune Goddess sent us a great builder, and construction began in February 2009.

Heather and Rick were the pioneer Shedders. They retired earlier than the other two couples and lived in the little tin box on and off for two years. They project-managed the house construction and the myriad micro decisions relating to interior décor. A huge job and responsibility done graciously, joyfully and well. The house was completed days before Daniel and Eve finished up their work in Sydney and moved north.

House & Home

Step Five: Our scheme was completed when Michael and Judy came to reside here too.

*The word retirement is a loose description and not accepted by all of us. I’ve heard of a better term recently… re-firement.


  1. Christine Cooper

    Wow! Hi Eve (& Daniel), We had heard you guys were building a new home and didn’t get any other details. It is so great to read all about your journey over the past few years. Chris and I have been doing something similar – although we have our own home in a Rural Land Sharing Community at Clunes, northern NSW – 25 mins drive from Lismore and about the same from Byron Bay and much closer to Bangalow. There are 3 houses on the property plus a Studio which has approval to add a kitchen and bathroom. We own the land jointly with 2 other families/parties and one party are selling their house and studio – see gum tree ad for details and photos. We will one day get some photos up on facebook! I am still working (part-time now) in Brisbane and Chris after building our house, which is awesome of course, is now doing “Handyman” type work after gaining all that valuable experience – he still does some signage work from time to time. He will get back to his art soon. We are both well and happy – I’ve had lots of personal health and family challenges over the past few years and lots of gifts with our two little grand-daughters, Malia (aged 3 yrs 2 mths) and Isabelle (aged 4 mths). They are very gorgeous and love their Nana and Grandpa. They are still living in Port Moresby with my daughter, Leonie and her hubby, Steve, but will be returning to Canberra in January 2012 which we are very happy about. My son, Shane, is well at the moment and living in Canberra in his own unit which is wonderful. I am hoping to retire from government work next year and live here at Clunes 7 days per week. It is about a 2 hr drive south of Brisbane depending on traffic. So if you guys are up this way anytime, please don’t hesitate to contact us – my mobile 0402 331 855. Love & Hugs, Christine (& Chris) Cooper

  2. Steve Burton

    Hi Eve,
    I guess you’ll never get rid of me out of your life because I willalways remember my first Yoga Classes at Sydney Yoga School many moons ago.
    I left a message on your answering machine today and would love to have a quick chat – as an old acquaintance and as a curious health professional about your path with health and fitness – none of us are getting any younger(!), so the path of discovery continues.
    Love and best wishes,
    Steve (Burton) Broken Hill 08 80801217 (bh) 08 80882349 (ah)

    • Eve

      Hi Steve,
      Great to have this connection. Last I remember you were going into midwifery. Is that correct? It sounds like you’ve moved on from baby catching. Broken Hill! Wow!
      As you might be able to see from my blog site, I’ve moved on, too. To Mitchells Island, NSW on the mid north coast. We have a little community of 3 couples living in a house we built on our 4 acres.
      And, I’m teaching in the Yoga Shed on the property. How great to not have to dodge city traffic and to do yoga practice in the early am to the sounds of varieties of bird life.
      Yes, I had the hip(s) surgery a couple of years ago, and I’m back in fine fettle. Besides teaching, I write, and am a co-director of a small on-line business: YogaAnwyhere
      And you, health-wise, work-wise, family? How’s it all going?
      Warm regards & Namaste,

  3. Steve Burton

    Hi Eve,
    thanks for your reply. It is certainly great to hear from you. I left the city about 15 years ago as it just wasn’t me anymore. As the Blue Mountains got busier and busier I kept moving further west but I may have overdone it just a little!
    I found your message on this blog just after I left a message on your answering machine so received your reply but hadn’t realised it because I am pretty backward with checking blogs and emails.
    I completed my Midwifery (what was I doing there again?) but moved out of that fairly quickly because women tend to have babies at the time of day when I felt a lot better being asleep. I currently work in a job that I love (Regional Health Promotion Coordinator for the Far West) and am still married to the only woman I have ever married – a beautiful and quite exceptional Dutch girl called Jacqueline who I think you might have met…No kids – I think our respective work experiences put us off going down that path!
    Health wise – firing and getting back to fitness mainly through crossfit and slowly getting back into yoga 3 times per week as I am rapidly losing flexibility through all this strength/aerobic training. All my Yoga background from you and Allan Goode will of course stay with me forever – I just need to be more regular with mat-visits but I love it when I do.
    I can’t help asking you what precipitated the need for hip replacement but it is none of my business. It is the inquisitive health professional coming out in me and I would have thought that all that Yoga and healthy living would have gone some way to prevention. Got me shaking my head in wonder but I am glad you are sounding well and thriving. If you ever want to ring me and put me out of my curious misery then that might be a better line of communication than the proverbial blog.
    Wishing you all the health and happiness that anyone could wish anyone,
    Steve (Broken Hill)

    • Eve

      Hi Steve,
      It sounds like you’re quite settled out west.
      I’m not sure if I have met Jacqueline; I like the way you describe her.
      Fabulous that yoga is still a thread in your life. (Everyone thinks they don’t do enough yoga. What’s enough?)
      By starting to teach in our new (2 Yrs.) rural community, I’ve met a whole new group of people, who are like-minded.
      They have become friends, as well as neighbours.
      I do some weights training and gym-ish exercises as lots of garden work and long walks on the beach.
      My new hips have given me a new lease on life. No pain, no pain 😉
      As to what precipitated the need for surgery, who can say? Genetics, stress sports, hyper flexibility?
      I went for 18 yrs., from diagnosis to the operation. That’s good innings. Now many of my contemporaries are needing knee, hip or shoulder surgery.
      I hear there is a wonderful new remedy that’s prolonged the need for replacements in trials with individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. One day
      there will be a stem cell solution, most likely.
      I did ring last week, but must have missed you. Still, it would be nice to talk.

  4. Rhonda

    Wow…how inspiring to read your blogs …..we too have moved out of the city to start a new direction in life!!
    Left Sydney in 2011. Now find myself with my partner on a little river front farm near Clunes- would you believe.
    Just this week I have gathered all my “courage” and am about to go back to Yoga classes, locally!
    It is at least 7 years (or more) since I last practiced, so its a bit daunting.
    BUT….I am ready to take my first little step back on the path to all I knew was enjoyable and fulfilling.
    Yoga used to be such a positive element in my life.
    How I veered off this path into some pretty rough, thorny terraine…is another story!
    (Most of us can admit to getting a bit off track, for a while eg wrong partners, wrong career, etc etc- can’t we).
    Love your website and blogs….thank you how timely and inspirational.

    • Eve

      Hi Rhonda,
      Thanks for your encouraging message. I’m so pleased you’re finding your way back to yoga.
      You’re so right about the fact that people go in and out of their involvement with yoga.
      Sometimes we imagine it’s just going to be a long-term commitment, then, life interferes.
      I see the interruptions as part of a life-long relationship with yoga. Something happens to
      break the regular contact, but we never forget that we were touched by yoga, and then find our
      way back.
      Are you a subscriber to “Yoga Suits Her”? If you subscribe, you’ll get the daily posts delivered
      to your email.

      • Sophie

        Wow how inspiring to read your blogs ..we too have moved out of the city to start a new dioeitcrn in life!!Left Sydney in 2011. Now find myself with my partner on a little river front farm near Clunes- would you believe.Just this week I have gathered all my courage and am about to go back to Yoga classes, locally!It is at least 7 years (or more) since I last practiced, so its a bit daunting.BUT .I am ready to take my first little step back on the path to all I knew was enjoyable and fulfilling.Yoga used to be such a positive element in my life.How I veered off this path into some pretty rough, thorny terraine is another story!(Most of us can admit to getting a bit off track, for a while eg wrong partners, wrong career, etc etc- can’t we).Love your website and blogs .thank you how timely and inspirational.Namaste,Rhonda

    • Eve

      Hi Rhonda,
      Have you found a good local yoga teacher? I wish you well on your return to yoga. As you say, the relationship with yoga creates positivity. Namaste, Eve

      • Eve

        Hi there, Judy,
        You are kind to vote for me. I hope you enjoy reading the blog. I enjoyed meeting so much! Hope to see you again soon. Eve


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