It was the wow factor of views, landscape and climate that first drew Grant and Catherine Fincher from Brisbane to Witta nine months ago. Not surprisingly, these hard-working treechangers have been caught up in their spacious garden and renovating their Queenslander home.
Why did you come here?
Catherine: Well, the view, and the area… Grant: … the climate, the wildlife and the peace and quiet. And then after you’ve been here a little while you realise the people are really nice. Of course, you just hope to god that you’ve got good neighbours, or you can keep good neighbours, because you’ve got no control over that.
I grew up in Camden in NSW, and I worked in town. You would close the store on Saturday at 12 and it would take you two and a half hours or more to get your shopping done because you are talking with everybody. And it’s not unlike that here, especially on Witta market days. Catherine: Going back 20 years this is a place I visited often from Brisbane. Girlfriend weekends were always up here, and we would bring Brisbane visitors up here. Grant: We were certainly looking for a change and we saw the place as somewhere to work towards somewhere to retire to. I work in electrical wholesaling and I have been with the same company since 1988. I look after government contracts and big state projects like sugar mills, Q Build tenders, an LNG project in Darwin. All sorts of things. I can work from home occasionally, so that makes a big difference to daily commuting. I lived in Buderim and worked in Brisbane for 20 years so commuting isn’t a problem for me. Catherine: : I am a teacher, but getting into the transfer process on the Sunshine Coast is very difficult. Right now I have a one day contract at Chevallum and I pick up relief work when I can at any of the local schools. Moving here doesn’t really affect the family in Brisbane. It is a two hour drive but when they get here they really enjoy it, and then they don’t want to go. We had reached the point in Brisbane where we had everything done to the house… all the painting, and the garden was organised. But that wasn’t the reason for us moving. There was no challenge. I had always had the urge to come and find a place like this.
What have you had to change in coming here?
Catherine: : I found the rain at the beginning of the year was a struggle. We were trying to get the house painted at the same time. Grant: Yes … the rain was washing the paint off the house.
Catherine: But we haven’t had to change much at all really. We now have the opportunity to do the things that we really enjoy. .. hours and hours in the garden! I must say we’re struggling with the vegetable side of things at the moment …
Grant: The vegetable garden virtually got washed away in the recent heavy rains, but we’ve changed it into a chicken run… but we’ve got the fruit trees – lychees, avocados, lemons, oranges, mandarins.
Look at the preserves over there … and this is only Friday! The land has enough slope on it to keep us fit. (laughs). People hate mowing because it takes time but I love it for that very reason … it is mundane like hosing.
Catherine: I have the time now that I am not teaching full-time. It’s not that I’m not doing nothing. It might not be paid work but I’m busy… like painting the inside of the house, and we’ve got lots of plans to keep us busy for quite some time. Our big problem is that we’re a bit like children in a lolly shop.
Grant: …we start a thousand things. Catherine: Yes…we’ll do this and then we’ll do that. We’re basically trying to make the house ours. But we are trying to focus a little bit better. Grant: We just want things to be easier, then we can do the relaxing things. We still like to read, listen to music, go to all the galleries. Catherine: And I want to get back to my painting. That is one of the things that drew me here, as I have always done some sort of craft.
What would keep you here?
Catherine: Basically the same things that brought us here, I think. Grant: It’s difficult for me because I spend the bulk of my waking hours somewhere else. So, I am not becoming part of the community as quickly as Catherine. So, hopefully when I stop work I will become more a part of the place. I used to do up old army trucks… Studebakers, Blitz radio trucks. I’ve still got a bren gun carrier and I’ve built jeeps. I have actually got a radio truck … a 1943 Canadian Blitz with all the radios complete. Catherine: It is still very early days but there are things we can get involved in. We wouldn’t have made the move if we didn’t think we could get into a community. You hear stories about communities that are very cliquey … and won’t let new people in for a long time. But I don’t think we’ve got that here.
Grant: Everyone comes from somewhere else so I can’t say that I know someone who was born and bred in Maleny. They don’t have it stamped on their forehead do they? Nine times out of ten people you talk to have come from somewhere else. In the end it’s how willing you are to join in, and how willing the community is to accept you.