The best way to address naïveté is to learn. Murray and I bought ‘Somewhere Unique’ one year ago this month, and the themes of naïveté and learning describe our progress through this first fantastic year.

As two office workers from inner-city Brisbane, we knew nothing of the great outdoors. We did, however, have a romanticised view of what it would be like to live in the country. And so, a year ago with an idealistic vision we sought a tree-change and arrived in Wollombi.

A decade living and working in Brisbane was exhilarating, relentless, and exciting. We lived an attractive lifestyle of successful careers and frequent socialising. There were, as always, some minor drawbacks, such as when turning out of our street often meant being halted by a bank of motionless traffic. Yesterday, in Wollombi, I turned into our driveway and came to a halt, certainly not from any traffic snarl, but due to a kangaroo and her joey feeding on the verge. Living at ‘Somewhere Unique’ is like that – full of completely natural moments within a pace of life where such beauty can be indolently contemplated.

There have, of course, been plenty of learning opportunities since we moved on to the property: water management; coordinating suppliers and deliveries; maintaining open spaces on a grand scale; and ensuring a ready supply of gas and firewood in the colder months. But these demands are part of a joyous rustic lifestyle. Such chores are complemented by standing on an escarpment watching wisps of mist float up from the valley floor, or, coming across a family of wombats waddling toward their burrow. Such moments quickly eradicate any adversity.

‘Somewhere Unique’ had been creatively and perfectly designed and constructed by the previous owners, from whom we bought the property. When we moved in, ‘Somewhere Unique’ was operating successfully in its 7th year. Our initial goal, and challenge, was to maintain and operate to the same high standard that had brought previous success. And to have fun.

And over time, as our confidence has grown, we have made small enhancements which have formed part of our signature: we have redecorated various interior aspects of the Retreats; improved the external landscaping; expanded menu options; engaged a wider range of suppliers; looked for greater sustainability practices; and reviewed guidebooks to provide more tourism options. Small changes with positive impacts. We have also learned a great deal from our guests, our own research, and committing ourselves to the highest quality in all that we do. And, of course, we have keenly learned from any mistakes. The result has been a very successful year measured by the goodwill, enthusiasm, and support of our guests.

I now suspect that Murray and I were unsuited to office jobs all along. After 30 years of stress and paper shuffling, I am convinced that sitting on a ride-on mower, under a huge sky, enjoying the fresh smell of cut grass and watching a family of lazy wallabies, is where I was always meant to be. A year after moving here we are wiser, happier, and far more capable. And being able to share such beautiful surrounds by providing luxury romantic accommodation for guests is the high point of a very contented lifestyle, and a very satisfying year.