Rural Life for a City Girl

By Gisela Horner | Friends Of Bella Vista Farm Volunteer

Ann Waters loves the rural life. She lives with her husband, daughter, two grandchildren, 30 chickens, four alpacas (which were a great attraction in February, the first Open Day of 2021), two dogs and two cats on a property in Kenthurst. Life is good.

Ann didn’t start life in the country. She was born in Strathfield and for years moved many times with her parents and older brother to Balgowlah, Pymble, over to Auckland and back to Burwood.

She had started hairdressing in New Zealand and continued in this profession on their return to Sydney. However, the harsh chemicals used for perms played havoc with her skin so she took a job in administration at Grace Brothers Broadway; a much safer option!

Life changed dramatically for Ann when at 20 she met Wally, her husband of 50 years. Like her parents, the couple took to moving often throughout their marriage as opportunities presented themselves to Wally, an electrical engineer. Sydney prices were high so they moved to Wollongong where Wally worked for BHP.

When his section was disbanded, he accepted a job in the Newcon Colliery, Lithgow. They bought 26 acres and lived in a caravan whilst building their home. There were only dirt roads and no electricity so conditions were very primitive. In the ensuing years, they paid for the electricity cable to be installed, which others then linked to, not contributing anything to the Waters’ original installation. Not daunted, Ann, with three young children, raised lambs for the local farmers and opened her own craft shop in the nearby town Wallerawang. She set up a spinning wheel in the front window, a craft she now brings to Bella Vista.

After eight years, Wally was offered a senior supervisor role in a concrete construction company in the city, so the family moved again to North Rocks where the children went to school. Wally moved on to Multiplex where he stayed until his retirement in 2001. Kellyville was the next home on a suburban block which did not fulfil their dreams. When Wally joined the Kenthurst Men’s Shed, rural Kenthurst became their home.

Ann’s passion is to educate children about country life and history. Her contribution to Bella Vista is invaluable. She and Wally have built a beautiful doll’s house, reflecting the colour scheme and style of the period and Ann has restored a Victorian cradle, both of which will be displayed in the upstairs nursery at Bella Vista. On Open Days, Ann is often seen dressed in period costume at her spinning wheel and children are fascinated to watch the wool that has come from the Farm’s sheep, spinning on her wheel. Ann is a most valued member of the volunteer ‘Friends’ team at Bella Vista Farm.

Bella Vista Farm is open on the 1st Sunday of every month 10am-2pm. Entry is free. Covid rules are still observed. Take a stroll through the heritage gardens, have a delicious Devonshire Tea seated in a relaxed rural setting whilst enjoying classical music performed by the Hills Shire Symphony Orchestra. The Farm is located on the corner of Elizabeth Macarthur Drive and Norwest Boulevard, Bella Vista. If you are interested in becoming a member and have something to contribute to the Farm please write to: friends.bellavistafarm@gmail.com

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