2020: The Year That Was
We happened upon The Barn for sale on a spontaneous drive to Pigeon House mountain. The four of us (Brad, Mindy, Mack and Laura) had developed a bit of a love affair with the South Coast over the past few years. We had always dreamed of an acreage by the coast, and seeing The Barn and it’s ‘For Sale’ sign had our minds racing with the possibilities it offered.
To put it lightly, the property needed some love (like a lot). We knew that we were taking on a huge project but we could see the potential it held and knew that together we had the skills to make it work. We soon found ourselves happily relocated to the South Coast and living on the property of our dreams.
We were three weeks into this dream when the Currowan Fire started.
It seems so clear now, but at the time none of us were really prepared for the extent to which the fires would affect us. We, like so many others, would live through weeks of waiting and watching, becoming increasingly familiar with weather forecasts and wind patterns and spending countless nights waking regularly to check that all was still well.
We had close calls. The fire burned through neighbours to our southern, western and eastern boundaries, before being redirected by the wind or contained at the last minute each time. There was a point where, when you looked at the fire map, you would see our property completely encircled by the fire zone but still unburnt. We felt as though we were living on a little fire island.
We had been deep into our renovations when the fires had begun and after the initial shock faded, we just had to get back at it, doing our best to work around roadblocks and material delays.
It wasn’t uncommon for friendly neighbours or the RFS to stop in and find us in the middle of one project or another. The dialogue was always the same: “You know that there’s a fire X km away don’t you?” They would ask us.
Of course we did, but in our minds we were as prepared as we could be for the fire’s impact and in the meantime we couldn’t afford to wait around for it to happen.
When it finally did come knocking, on a 45 degree day in January, we were lucky. The same winds which kept us safe wreaked havoc upon our neighbours taking homes, vehicles and sheds and while we did lose fencing and a couple of outbuildings, both our house and commercial space were safe. A neighbour later told us he had clocked the wind at 98 kilometers per hour.
The strange sense of relief that came with surviving the burn was immense. We’d spent so many weeks living with background tension, wondering when it would be our turn. But now that we had burned and were safe, we were paralysed by guilt, knowing that many others had not been so lucky. It took time before we felt we could move forwards.
With the flooding rains that extinguished what was remaining of the Currowan Blaze (as well as most of the fires across NSW) we felt as though we were through the worst of it and began to make good headway with our renovations. All our compliance works were approved and the interior of the Barn has been transformed into what is now a warm and inviting rustic space.
We painted the exterior of the buildings, extended the deck and removed a low awning which worked wonders to transform the Barn into the venue that we envisaged. This along with several other projects such as the construction of a new jetty for our dam, beautiful horse fencing along the driveway and replanting the gardens have had a huge impact on the look and feel of the property.
The time had come for us to host our first weddings, but there was just one problem:
The global pandemic that not one of us saw coming, but that each of us has felt in more ways than we could have foreseen.
It was within a storm of ever changing regulations and multiple postponements that we had the chance to host our first wedding in September, just under a year after our journey began. While we know how difficult it has been for countless couples who were forced to postpone their wedding day, we feel so fortunate that Jacqui and Scott, who had their first wedding postponed back in May, were the first to christen our beautiful space.
We have now hosted our first season of weddings and events within this COVID madness. Navigating its difficulties has challenged us, and there have definitely been times where we have questioned our sanity. But we have never questioned that this dream, which we have poured so much into, would be transformed into a space full of love and laughter, just as we always imagined.
The events that we’ve held this year have been beautiful. We have hosted families who have lost their homes, and who found solace in witnessing the marriage of their children. We have welcomed the community for an unforgettable night of live music and healing. And we have seen first-hand, time and time again, the joy spread through the celebration of love, and the union of two beautiful souls.
So, while 2020 may have been the year that was, it was also full of countless beautiful moments and silver linings. We feel so fortunate to have experienced our share of these and are looking forward to hosting many more days filled with love and joy in the years to come.