Lorna Hendry is a unique adventurer in today’s busy world. We decided to bring you her story after receiving her feedback at SabbaticalHomes.com
“Our family spent last year camping around Australia and are spending this year in a remote Aboriginal community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and your wonderful site has helped make it all possible.”
In 2004, Hendry—a resident of Melbourne, Australia at the time—grew tired of the frustration she and her partner James were feeling as they attempted to balance work and family pressures. What followed were three years of careful planning that encouraged Hendry’s decision to give up the life she and her family knew to start a journey across the Australian outback.
Lorna posted her home on SabbaticalHomes.com in 2006 and found a Canadian family to live in it. “Our house was exactly what they needed. Their daughters were the same age as our sons, they wanted to rent our family car, and they were happy to look after the cat.” Once they knew their home and cat were in good hands, they packed their belongings and began the trek which would take them from the bustling city of Melbourne through the bush to Imintji, a small Aboriginal community.
The family excursion included camping on deserted beaches, driving through dense rainforests, and taking shortcuts through hazardous and little-known areas of the outback.
What came of this new lifestyle was more than just a change of scenery. Hendry found a passion for living in the Aboriginal community which also nursed a newly discovered family closeness arising from shared experiences and time spent together with James and their two sons. “We landed at Imintji by accident. It was the best thing that has happened to us on our whole trip. Despite travelling around the country for a year, we had pretty much no contact with any indigenous communities apart from the occasional ‘cultural tourism’ things - two hours mud crabbing, or ranger talks in national parks, that kind of thing. We've now spent four months living in this small Aboriginal community in remote Australia, and it's been a mind blowing experience.”
In Imintji, Hendry works in the shop selling goods and pumping gasoline. James is the community’s school bus driver, and their two children attend school there as the only two white children.
Hendry’s adventure has gained the attention of Camper Trailer Australia magazine, in which she has published a piece about her experiences travelling in an off-road camper trailer. She has also written an autobiographical essay for “The Australian” newspaper entitled “This (Camping) Life.”
Later this year, the family will make their way across the country from the Kimberley region of Western Australia back to Fitzroy in inner-city Melbourne. They will bring their memories of “two years when all we needed was each other”. They will miss their tent, the dust, the stars, the driving and the campfires.
“It's way too complex to analyse yet, but it's been rich and rewarding and challenging and illuminating and heartbreaking and frustrating and I will weep buckets when we leave.”
After living a “simple” life within the Aboriginal community of Imintji, Lorna has decided that she will not go back to her “regular” Melbourne life. “I'm thinking of trying to organize an exchange between our local primary school in Melbourne and the remote community school here. We will also offer a place in our home for any of these kids who might want to try to do some secondary schooling in the city. I'm going to send regular packages of secondhand clothes and books and toys up here.”
She is almost ready to switch gears and experience two drastically different environments: Vietnam and New York City are on her horizon. If any of you in Vietnam or New York feel like it is time to visit Australia, she’ll be posting another listing at SabbaticalHomes.com soon.