BEST OF 2023: If you are really lucky, there's no place like home

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The farmhouse

There’s no place like home, particularly when it’s a farm in Cowra. Photo: Kim Treasure.

Year in Review: Region is revisiting some of the best Opinion articles of 2023. Here’s what got you talking, got you angry and got you thinking this year. Today, Kim Treasure clicks her heels together three times and takes us home.

I went home on the weekend – back to the farmhouse that has been in the family for generations.

There’s something about lying in a single bed, in your childhood room, listening to the murmurs of your parents talking quietly in the bedroom up the hall, that makes you feel like you are five years old again.

As I tapped on the masonry wall and waited for my eldest daughter to respond in the quasi Morse code my big brother and I invented decades before, it occurred to me how incredibly lucky I am to be able to go back home.

No matter how many years go by or how far I travel, the tick of the clock on the mantelpiece is a constant, as is the jangle of the doorknob that once seemed far too high to ever reach.

READ ALSO I’m the black sheep of the family, alpaca my bags now

Clock on a mantlepiece

It’s always time for family. Photo: Kim Treasure.

I go to sleep to the sounds of sheep calling each other, the dogs barking at an imagined fox, and, occasionally, possums emitting that blood-curdling noise that makes you think Freddy Krueger is on the loose.

Sure, you wake up with a frozen nose, but you know it’s only a matter of moments before the fire can be coaxed back to life and you can roast your butt on the flames.

If you grew up in a country town, you know that when you go back, every second face in the street will be familiar – although they all, strangely enough, seem to have become older, greyer and more lined.

The pubs will all be the same, but the young, popular crowd will have rotated again, unlike the diehard drinkers who remain firmly affixed to their favourite bar.

You will know where to get the best Chinese food, that Friday after the lamb sales is the best time to catch farmers in the main street, and that conversation will be dominated by talk of weather and the latest stock prices.

Nothing much changes and that’s the beauty, and privilege, of having grown up in a happy Australian country home.

The farmhouse

Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Photo: Kim Treasure.

I’ve often taken that for granted but the longer you live the more you realise just how fortunate that makes you.

My family genuinely loves each other and takes every opportunity to be together. We’ve now spread across the country, and across continents, but we know we will always have each other’s backs.

Home has always been a safe place, where you go for love and support. I’ve never laid in my childhood bed and feared for my mother’s safety, or my own. By comparison, an estimated 2.6 million adult Australians (about 13 per cent) have witnessed violence towards a parent by a partner before the age of 15. An estimated 14 per cent as children have been physically or sexually abused themselves.

And that’s in Australia, the “lucky country”, where I’ve never gone to bed hungry or without a roof over my head. Far too many have – and as the cost of living spirals and wages stagnate, I fear many more will.

READ ALSO How much do you need to earn to afford a home in regional NSW?

Cast the net even wider, to war-torn lands, countries rife with religious or racial persecution, famine and fear, and the chances of having a life like mine diminish even further. I’ve never had to listen to bombs exploding, machine-gun fire or the wail of the totally bereft.

I won the lottery of life simply through birth.

I’m trying to make sure my kids, and grandkids, feel the same way – but those of us who can, need to do more. We need to step up when we witness family violence, speak out when we see casual racism, offer a safe haven to those who need it and a friendly ear to those not yet ready to make the leap. We need to donate if and when we can.

The older I get the more firmly I believe, everyone deserves the opportunity to feel there’s no place like home.

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Good article. Living in Canberra, where I came six decades ago, to work for the government, I took for granted my annual trips back home to Adelaide. Now I’m the last survivor of my family. The home I took for granted is no more. And trips back to Adelaide, still home to me, although I look up old friends, are somehow empty. And expensive!

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