Tomerong Dreaming

Most kids move out of home eventually, leaving their parents as empty-nesters having to adjust to the sudden silence and shorter shopping list.  Not our parents, they went for the pre-emptive strike. George and Dianne left two of their four adult children in the family home and decided to move out themselves, settling on a glorious 20-acre farm in Tomerong, Jervis Bay, 3 hours south of Sydney.  That was 20 years ago, and it’s been a long term project that we have all shared in.  The old family home in the Sutherland Shire is long gone, us four kids are nearing ‘retirement’ ourselves, and looking forward with delight and trepidation at the prospect of moving down to Tomerong on a more permanent basis ourselves at some point on some unimaginable ‘retirement’ day.

I say ‘retirement’ in quotes, ‘cause we all know that it ain’t about sitting around doing nothing.  In fact looking after 20 acres, including several large greenhouses, has kept our parents very active and, happily, very healthy right into their seventies.  There’s a lot to be said for this farming caper.  Most of us on the far side of 40 have probably daydreamed about what their retirement ‘job’ might be, perhaps something that gives back to the community, or takes them to unexplored corners of the world.  I’ve thought that I’d like something that was productive, using my hands to make things and pretty much the opposite of the desk-bound mental gymnastics of my current day job.  Life at Tomerong might just fit the bill.

I’m kid number two of four in our family, and have lived far from home for the longest time, moving to Melbourne in 1990.  After over 20 years of urban corporate life, I took a sabbatical last year and spent it on the family farm. This was partly an attempt to make up for the long absence, partly an opportunity for my 11 year old son to develop a deeper relationship with his grandparents, and partly a trial retirement run, to test if the daydream could work as reality.

I came into the year with a half-formed question in the back of my mind; “Can you live with your parents again as an adult, really?” Uncertain of the answer, I had mentally prepared myself for some rough spots. Last year with mum and dad was wonderful, with far more laughs and far fewer arguments than I had imagined. It was an easy comfortable pleasure, particularly as the only arguments were about how much grain versus food scraps to feed the chickens to keep them laying, or how many sugary treats are acceptable to buy in a shopping run!  I learnt the names of about 100 plants, tried about a dozen new foods, and picked up a few new recipes.

My son Alex and I had tried to get a website going for Tomerong Nursery during the year, but were so busy with life on the farm that it fell off the to-do list quite quickly.  We’ve settled back in Melbourne now, and are looking for ways to connect with life back in Tomerong.  We’re going to try blogging our way into Tomerong’s daily life from afar, with details about what’s in season, investigations on various plants, updates on what George and Dianne are up to, and other things that connect our three generations of Tomerongians together.  Alex had free reign to create our first blog post, and this is blog post number two.

You have managed to find our little on-line home, welcome.  We hope you discover something of value, interest or amusement.


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