Leading the world by leaving it behind

It seems it has taken a pandemic to make us all think about where and how we live.

And finally, the country hicks who make regional and rural Australia their homes might be seen as making a wise choice, a socially responsible choice, even an ethically sound choice - all the "choices" that are turning our celebs vegan and our cars electric.

Are we - dare I say it - becoming cool? We've been growing tomatoes and rosemary in scrubby parts of the garden for years.

Are we nearly on par with those who have tiny matching herb pots on their pocket city balconies?

I even saw a US online thing recently that talked about bringing back air-drying your clothes as done in times past.

We are still living in times past here, never having owned a dryer.

Our commute is about eight minutes, we take our own rubbish and recycling to the tip, we plant our own trees and collect our own chook's eggs.

Now, because we never caught up with the rest of the hip world, we are suddenly leading it.

I had a similar feeling in a music store recently when I looked at the $10 CDs and turned around to find all the records (or vinyls) were about $50. Wait long enough and anything becomes cool. We couldn't exactly call ourselves greenies here. We are addicted to packaged food, drive everywhere, have too much rubbish.

But I think what has suddenly made rural and regional Australia the cool kids is plain and simple - safety.

A virus is a dangerous thing in a heavily populated area.

Surely just about the safest place in the world to be is in Australia - regional Australia.

If we choose, we can swim in the river, walk just about as far as we want, go sunbaking - you name it - and never see another soul.

It is true serenity. Sorry - I was just interrupted by one member of the family urgently wanting me to pay for a wall hanging on my bank card and another wanting to sit in the exact spot I am sitting because it is best for Wi-Fi.

Nothing's perfect. Serenity is hard to find. But we are pretty close.

So, as the city dwellers discover the delights of country living and move inland, just remember the things you yearned for - simplicity and safety.

There's just about enough room for all of us. Just don't sit where I'm sitting.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah, NSW.

This story Leading the world by leaving it behind first appeared on The Canberra Times.