Been Out Back at the Outback House

I have now returned home after going out to Dubbo in western New South Wales to visit my grandmother once again. While I was out there I had the opportunity to visit the Outback House. Ever since the series was shown on ABC a couple of years ago I have been wanting to visit the area, but it is privately owned and was only opened on long weekends and special occasions.

The television series depicted participants from modern day heading back in time to a working homestead in 1861. The property, named "Oxley Downs" was 'built' as a replica of the homesteads of the day. You can see more about the series here I was really drawn to the series because it is very close to where my grandparents built a homestead in the 1930s.

What struck me straight away was the self sufficiency of life. Exactly how my grandmother had described to me. They raised and killed their own meat and grew all their own fruit and veg. My grandmother also grew wheat and took it to the mill to swap for bags of flour.

The homestead was so simple yet so beautiful. It had a hallway that went straight through the building with rooms off to each side. First door on the left was the dining room which doubled as the classroom and office.

The first door on the right was the parlour which has comfortable chairs and small tables and a piano.

The last two rooms were the bedrooms.

I was so intrigued by the kitchen. So primitive, yet highly functional with a separate storage room or larder.

The garden was a huge area that really grew everything, all in together. It was magnificent. There were no neat little rows, it was more a permaculture style. The owners told me to take what I wanted and although I wanted to dive in with a wheelbarrow, I respectfully took a few things that I thought I would be able to continue the heirloom breeds from by saving the seeds.

What really struck me was that in comparison they did it so tough, although they knew no different. They baked and made EVERYTHING. They grew EVERYTHING.

When I arrived home I went to make some rock cakes and suddenly realised how lucky I am. I have refrigeration. I can freeze my vegetables and meat, I have a microwave if I want the butter to melt faster, I have an electric oven. So a more self sufficient lifestyle would be so EASY in comparison. It is so easy to bake bread, make pasta, make jam. Yet..... it seems that we have been tricked into a consumerist lifestyle where even baking a chicken is too much work when it is far more "convenient" to get a pre-cooked chook from the supermarket!

So, my perspective has certainly changed......... I rose early this morning and made strawberry jam. I then had it on a slice of home baked bread from the bread maker, toasted in my electric toaster and I had a cup of tea boiled in my electric jug. Being more self sufficient is suddenly so easy is comparison.

I sat and thought joyful thoughts......


Karen said...

Wow - wish I could have been there seeing that with you and being inspired as you were - I very often need inspiration! We are so blessed with all our modern gadgets. I don't know how they did it - hard workers I guess :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful experience for you. I loved the series and it is replaying on ABC at the moment on Saturday mornings. I remember my grandmother telling me so much about life on the land churning butter and trying to keep meat in the heat etc. We sure do have it easy by comparison. I made yogurt and pasta for the first time last week so am enjoying adding new skills. A very interesting read of your adventures. Thanks BW.


Keri said...

Wow! Those pictures are STUNNING! I wonde if that series is available in the Us? I hope so. It sounds wonderful. If I lived close by, I'd be stopping over for some of your jam right now....looks sO yummy!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I love the big old homes they always were roomy and functional.
And that vegie garden....Yes please!!!
The jam and toast looks pretty good too...

gary said...

It was a fascinating series. Thanks for the pics of it.

Regards, Gary

Michelle said...

Great post. I have been thinking along these lines recently too and realised I have made my life overly complicated by trying to do everything simply. I know that sounds like it doesn't make sense but I have been stuck on this idea that I need to have this/do that in order to live simply when what I really need to do is make do and enjoy. Instead of living simply I have been acquiring more things to make my life simple only to now feel like I am drowning in all the 'stuff' I have.
So gradually over this year I am going to pare down(especially my pantry which must have over 400 different things in it)to the basics and return to simple cooking and simple living.

MrsMultiTasker said...

I liked that show too, and there was one on ABC a year or so before that from Britain called "The 1940's House" which was equally interesting. The main thing that the family took away from their experience was how much healthier their diet became after having to get by on cheap vegies etc.
Love the photos of the old house. Wouldn't have been very nice withthe drafts wafting through those gaps in the walls!! Freezing!

PaulaBrett said...

What a brilliant post. We have just recently had the pleasure of seeing this series here in Canada and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
I love your perspective and the way that you wrote this post.

So very true about the conveniences of today and somehow a little sad that we don't have it a little harder to make us all better people.

Thanks for a great post.
As always I enjoy reading your blog.


Tania said...

I love that series, might have to watch it again now I know it is being replayed on Saturday mornings.

It is amazing that our grandparents actually lived this way and yes it was incredibly hard. Things are so easy for the younger folk now, everything at the push of a button. Not always a good thing in my opinion.


Linda said...

How fantastic to be able to visit!

Jess said...

Awesome! Like a living work of art!

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