I never knew the middle of nowhere could be so beautiful.
A couple of months ago, I was on the train home from work, bored and exhausted. I mindlessly reached into my purse for my phone and opened instagram to pass the time, as I often do. As soon as it loaded, the very first image was a gorgeous overhead shot of enamelware filled with something steamy and delicious by one of my favourite bloggers and photographers, Lean Timms. The caption announced that she, along with a powerhouse team of creatives I follow and admire greatly, will be hosting a three day spring workshop in the Australian countryside in September, focused on photography, food, styling and basically everything I find good in the world.
I had no idea where the place was (mind you, even most Australians have never heard of it) or how I’d get there, but I INSTANTLY knew I had to be a part of this. I just HAD to. No doubt about it. I had been searching desperately for something like this to participate in, but every other workshop or event I came across always seemed to be either already sold out or clashing with my schedule or budget. For months, I’d been craving to take part in a gathering of like-minded people, as well as itching to start exploring this massive and beautiful country I now call home. This was perfect, but I knew I had to act fast: there were only TWO SPOTS LEFT. There was absolutely NO time for hesitation or thinking (two of my areas of expertise).
After about ten minutes of utter freaking-out and manic commenting on the photo (during which I’m sure Lean thought I was a crazy person), I managed to secure my spot. I’m in!! I was TERRIFIED. A good kinda terrified, but terrified nonetheless.
WHAT the hell have I just gotten myself into??
This was completely out of my comfort zone: going away with a bunch of people I didn’t know to somewhere insanely remote I’ve never heard of with not even an ounce of phone service for three whole days…commence heavy breathing. I’d be lying if I denied having a
gigantic minor panic attack. Bear in mind, I am and always have been a city girl…and not just any city, but manic, dirty, crowded Cairo, and two years after moving away I was barely just beginning to get used to living in Sydney! This place I was about to get lost in is pretty much the exact polar opposite of Sydney (let alone CAIRO), and I was more than a bit anxious. But more than fear, I felt pure excitement. This, something inside me assured me, is going to be exactly what I needed. This is meant to be.
Fast forward to two months later, and here I am, standing in front of a rickety old wood and tin building in a massive valley out on the border of the state of New South Wales, after two days worth of driving with my new friend and road-trip companion Amelia, who so graciously agreed to take me along for the ride. With every kilometre, every turn in the road, every hill, valley and rickety old bridge, I grew more sure that this would be the best thing I’d ever done for myself (spoiler alert: I was right).
As we approached Moorabinda station, after following directions that sounded more like a treasure hunt than an address, my heartbeat grew louder. I felt butterflies in my stomach and a looming sense of anxiety. I tried to breathe through it, but I was a nervous wreck. This all, however, instantly melted away the moment I got out of the car and was greeted by the most gorgeously warm smile and massive welcoming hug from Annabelle Hickson, our beautiful host for the workshop.
Moorabinda station felt like a complete time warp. It has this indescribable old-world charm oozing out of every nook and cranny, and it was pretty impossible not to instantly fall madly in love with. The place was an odd combination of both rough, primitive and worn out, as well as delicate, dreamy and romantic. You could tell this place had survived decades of heavy use, but the astoundingly talented team of creatives who organised the workshop managed to somehow transform it into this magical wonderland of beautiful flowers, foliage, textures, colours, shadow and light that was an absolute feast for the eyes and soul, and a photographer’s and stylist’s dream.
The property belongs to the Harphams, who so generously let us stay in their original shearer’s quarters and use the grounds as we pleased. They were even so kind as to take us out on an exciting adventure on their ute to find the wild brumbies who roam their land. If you have absolutely no idea what a brumby is, I’d like to reassure you that neither did I. I had to embarrassingly ask what brumbies were, because I was NOT about to go chasing an unknown creature in the Australian bush. NOPE. Turns out, they are Australian wild horses! And gosh were they beautiful! They wouldn’t come near the truck, so I wasn’t able to snap a proper photo, but the ride was exhilarating and the views breathtaking. Imagine having all this as your backyard?!
Morabinda station is a nostalgia-inducing kind of place where you constantly have the lingering feeling of ‘coming home’; even though you know you’ve never been there before, a sense of belonging; even though you are surrounded by a bunch of complete strangers and an overwhelming state of calm and serenity; even though everything around you is unfamiliar and new.
I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking for me.
I have so much to say about this experience and so many photos to share with you guys (seriously, how insanely photogenic is this place??), so in order to do it justice I’ve decided to split it over three parts. Keep an eye out for the next two instalments (complete with equally ridiculous amounts of photos), which I will hopefully be posting shortly.