Nothing demonstrates Gippsland goodness better than this story submitted by Camilla Hullick. Take a moment to read how welcoming and helpful South Gippslanders have been to Camilla and her mother.
Incredible, unique, country etiquette
By Camilla Hullick
Recently my family uprooted our elderly mother from a busy peninsula town to Foster, so we can all be near to enjoy quality time and take care of, well, whatever arises.
I visited mum the other morning and was pleasantly reminded of what I obviously take for granted these days, having lived the country life for fifteen years.
I arrived to find mum’s rubbish bin had already been wheeled down her driveway and placed in its usual spot beside her garage after the garbage truck had earlier emptied it. The lovely lady next door had considerately taken care of this chore.
I noticed mum’s nature strip had been mowed too. Apparently one of the neighbors across the road had graciously offered to tend to this job the previous day.
A lump of soil in mum’s ‘work in progress’ front garden had also been levelled out.
Mum said, “Yes, a polite young tradesman working on the building site next door yesterday offered to flatten the pile for me. He said it would only take him five minutes with his superior machinery.”
How nice of him!
We then decided to take advantage of the beautiful, morning sunshine and rugged ourselves up ready to thaw out and loosen our bones during a short walk.
Upon opening the front door to leave, we were startled by a dozen eggs nestled in an ice-cream container on the door mat, graciously planted by another neighbor. Wow!
This just doesn’t stop!
After our walk, we drove into town to buy our regular coffees. Mum, still mindful of her health vulnerabilities towards covid-19, waited in the car while I strolled inside the coffee shop to order.
I explained mother was waiting outside after the gorgeous cafe owner, who we’ve grown extremely fond of, enquired about her. With that, she brewed our cuppas and carried mum’s latte to the car to greet her good morning.
Such a lovely gesture!
There are many more examples and mother is overwhelmed with Foster’s hospitality, not being accustomed yet to a country life style.
It’s true, country and city are worlds apart. Sure, both have their advantages and disadvantages like everything in life, but I’ll take rural living any day – and I grew up in Melbourne!
I remember clearly the day I was gobsmacked, realising I really did now live in country Victoria among the most accommodating folk I’d ever met.
When my husband and I were suddenly faced with the opportunity of a country/sea change all those years ago, the move happened like a whirlwind.
One minute we were living our typical, busy, city lives, the next I was cleaning our new, simple, yet stunning, rental property in preparation to live in beautiful Venus Bay until we built our house on the farm.
We moved our entire life in the first week of December and I remember it felt completely surreal. Besides flyby greetings, we hadn’t befriended any locals as yet and Christmas was fast approaching. I excitedly informed our family Christmas Day will be celebrated in our delightful new part of the world.
I planned a cold, festive banquet of numerous, delicious salads and cold meats and began preparing my three roasts during the morning of Christmas Eve.
One roast had cooked beautifully teasing my taste buds, one was half baked in the oven, while the last was ready and waiting its turn. Then, to my horror, I realised my oven had suddenly died!
“Oh nooo,” I shrieked, “Not now!”
I quickly searched for the real estate agent’s number we rented the house through and immediately rang explaining my dilemma.
I was told the local electrician was on his way to Melbourne for Christmas celebrations and wouldn’t be returning for a couple of days. I would need to wait.
“Wait! How can I wait? I have my family coming for Christmas tomorrow!” I frantically answered.
Rob, the agent, claimed he would see what he could do and to leave it with him.
After a short while, which seemed like an eternity, Rob called back and apologetically insisted there are no electricians to be found. All tradesmen had finished up for the Christmas holidays. However, if I would like to bring my roasts to the shop, he will happily take them home to finish roasting them in his own oven.
“Oh my goodness, are, are you serious?” I stuttered in shock.
“Of course,” Rob said. “Bring them down.”
You could have blown me over with a feather!
For many years I rented in various parts of Melbourne, but never in my wildest dreams could I imagine city real estate agents (or property managers), offering to assist their tenants with such a personal predicament, going above and beyond to help.
I mean, seriously, it would have taken a few weeks to have the defective oven seen to in town, Christmas time or not!
I was completely floored and knew at that moment life was going to dramatically change putting our roots down in South Gippsland.
I have never forgotten the generosity of both Rob and his wife, Lorraine, who then owned the real estate agency. I am forever grateful for their kindness, especially to a stranger.
However, my story doesn’t end there!
After I was certain Rob was seriously going to finish my meat off in his oven, I rounded up my roasting trays and went to grab my car keys, which weren’t in their typical place.
“Great!” I mumbled. “Where the hell have they gone now?!”
I didn’t want to needlessly hold Rob up any longer, as I was already wasting his precious time. I quickly scanned the house without any luck and suddenly my husband sprung to mind.
Sure enough, after ringing him to check, hubby had driven off that morning with my car keys in his pocket! Brilliant! Funny thing was, he’d never done that before.
So again I rang Rob to explain, as much as I wanted to, I was unable to transport my roasts to his shop, but thanked him profusely for his generous offer that continued to blow me away.
“No worries,” he answered, “I’ll be there in ten minutes to pick them up.”
I was speechless! For the life of me I could not believe it!
Rob arrived as he said he would and cooked my roasts beautifully – probably better than I would have managed! I picked them up late in the afternoon when my husband finally arrived home with my car keys.
Our first family Christmas Day function in our new surroundings turned out to be a successful and enjoyable event with plenty of tasty food.
Yes indeed, we had landed smack bang in glorious country life, which has only continued to blossom over the years.
We’ve had the pleasure of meeting endless, endearing locals throughout South Gippsland, many who have become good friends and, at the drop of a hat, we all help each other out. No one bats an eyelid.
This is what I call incredible, unique country etiquette and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Also in South Gippsland: A Foster football foundation
You can see more of Camilla’s writing at The Stumbling Spiritualist.