When we moved to Kingaroy, a lot of people asked: Why?
As if we were moving to the ends of the earth, to somewhere really horrible.
And it's true, that when I was growing up in the South Burnett, I spent a lot of my time dreaming about living and working in places far, far away. But that's what kids do, right?
The thing is that since we moved here, our lives have been so much better.
Yes, we miss our family and friends in Brisbane. But we see them regularly, at least every school holidays. And there are skype and phone calls in the meantime.
Since moving to the country, we've added to our circle of family and friends. Our lives have become richer, bigger.
At Kingaroy, the same life struggles come at us. But the clear skies, the wide streets, the proximity of family, the growing friendships, make all of that easier.
We still laugh when we get in the car five minutes before an appointment and make it with minutes to spare - pulling up at a parking spot right outside. Or even better, walk there. We just can't believe how easy it all is - and so less stressful.
We're getting used to "the country way" - where people always go that little bit further to make a difference. People are just so nice here!
Yesterday morning, the nice lady at Kingaroy Photo Lab tried to charge my camera for free! I'd gone in asking for a charger, because I've misplaced mine, and don't have time to turn the place upside down looking for it. But she kindly offered to try to charge it for me before selling me anything. I just think that's lovely. In the end, it didn't work, but it's the thought that counts.
Another day, I'd been rushing around doing errands and perhaps forgetting to drink enough water, and I was a bit shaky. (I have a dodgy thyroid which can do that). The kind lady in the shop was most concerned and wanted to get me a glass of water and let me sit down. No one would have ever noticed in the city. (Trust me: This is a regular occurrence, and yes, I am trying to look after myself better).
From not knowing my neighbours, or worse, having 'unusual' ones, I now have the best neighbours in the world. Neighbours who have become friends. They keep an eye on the place when we are away, help rescue naughty Lucy when she escapes, and are there to let the tradies in when they arrive earlier than planned. Kayla even made my daughter's birthday cheesecake when I came over all queasy at the thought of it!
Homemade birthday cheesecake
And although I had imagined life would be quieter in the country, there are always loads of events on in the South Burnett.
This weekend, it's Wine and Food in the park. The region's soil and climate is conducive to wine production - in fact students can even study wine-making at Kingaroy High School. There are many excellent wineries in the South Burnett, and they will be on show tomorrow at Memorial Park.
Dusty Hill Vineyard
It's generally an annual event, but last year had to be cancelled because of floods. And hey, this year we are in the middle of another drought.
But food, wine, entertainment lovers and kids are expected to be out in force for this laid-back event held at one of the town's main parks. (Kids because there are rides, yummy food, and roving entertainment.)
I love that on the official website, planners advise punters that when they buy a bottle of wine, they will be given plastic glasses to drink it with. And that drinking straight from the bottle is not a good look (my words), and security guards will be on hand to escort people from the venue if they get up to any of those shenanigans. Only in Kingaroy? (Kidding).
So at Wine And Food In The Park you get to meet the winemakers, try the wine, and buy it of course. But there is also other food and drink on tap, plus rides for the kids, roving entertainers, and nine hours of entertainment.
Entry is $15 for over-18s and free for everyone else.
Image: Wine And Food In The Park
Image: Wine And Food In The Park
The Kingaroy State High School Band will be among the many attractions
What do you love about your town or city?