Home' Aurora : Aurora May 2013 Contents Our cover girl, Annie Nichols,
a former school leader at St
Catherine's Catholic College
Singleton, was recently named
an ambassador for Youth in Ag
(Agriculture) Day celebrations. She
has often attended the Sydney Royal
Easter Show but this year she had
the opportunity to spruik her passion
for rural life. Aurora invited Annie, 19,
to share her enthusiasm for all things
Rural life has taught me many things -- like
how to have a quick shower and not waste
any water, because drought is a disaster
and water is liquid gold. I also learned
about showing cattle, raising chooks and
growing fruit and vegetables. But most
importantly, rural life has
taught me resilience
and the importance of
I believe I now have a
far better understanding
of the world. Not much is just around the
corner -- you have to put yourself out there,
step up to the challenge and go exploring.
This is why I believe rural life has so much
to offer in terms of opportunities and life
From humble beginnings, rural life has
made me -- as a member of the fourth
generation of my family to live on our family
property in Lower Belford, just outside
Singleton -- determined to pursue a career
in rural or regional Australia.
I am the eldest daughter of a mechanic and
a journalist, who have worked in the Valley
most of their working lives. I have twin
sisters, Lucy and Sophie, who attend my
old school, St Catherine's Catholic College,
I have witnessed first-hand the difficulties
in obtaining the same services in health
that city cousins take for granted. With
many others, I am lobbying on behalf
of rural Australia for a better health deal
and striving for equality within the health
care sector. This is my second year
studying physiotherapy at the University of
My road until today may look like smooth
sailing but that's far from the truth. What
has brought me to where I am today is the
love and supportive spirit of my community.
"It takes a village to raise a child", as Hillary
Clinton, former United States Secretary of
State, has said on many occasions.
Our family has been battling our father's
mental illness for over a decade now,
and our 'shining light' has been our rural
Whom do you call when the police take
hours to respond, and we need to be
plucked off our verandah in the middle of
the night? A neighbour will always come.
When vets are delayed, we know a kindly
young gentleman who will come to our
rescue and pull a calf. When mechanics
and the NMRA man are in high demand,
we have our handyman 'Tub' down the
road to call. When a tree falls down in a
storm, we know another neighbour, the
collector of all things weird and wonderful,
who will have tug boat ropes to pull it off
the fence. When doctors'
appointments take days,
we have nurse Helen to
make us drink apple cider
For years we have been
rescued, revived and our
spirits lifted by our close-knit community.
In small country towns there are so many
chances to represent your community
and your school and I jumped at every
opportunity to travel out of my comfort
zone to be a representative for both.
Recently I was selected to travel to the
National Rural Women's Conference in
Canberra as a NSW Rural Women Connect
The stories women shared were incredible,
always with the underlying theme of how
opportunities presented themselves in
rural towns and how the resilience and
determination of rural communities
played a major role in their success.
Women like Elizabeth Broderick, Liz
Davenport, Maggie Beer and the Governor-
General Quentin Bryce shared their
wisdom and experiences.
As Rural Industries Research &
Development Corporation Woman of
the Year 2012, and national runner-
up, Catherine Marriott, stated at the
conference, "Economic independence
is one of the most important securities a
woman can give herself."
Throughout my adventures I have had
the backing of the members of my rural
community, their companionship and
support, and for this reason I strongly
encourage a life in the bush, a life in a rural
community and a life without traffic snarls --
well, except at change of shift in the Valley.
Yes there is a divide between rural and
urban areas, and yes, I want to bridge
that divide. Rural communities are unique
and one can never fully understand how
wonderful they are until they become part
of you. Just simple things like having the
same bus driver for years, Ken, who would
reverse up the road if he caught a glimpse
of us screaming up the driveway, late again.
A bus driver that's a best mate -- how good
I am very passionate about the rural
lifestyle and encouraging and supporting
to consider a
career in rural
health and in
BY ANNIE NICHOLS
For years we have been
rescued, revived and our
spirits lifted by our close-
The career opportunities really are endless.
I am very grateful for the food that's on
our plates, the clothes we wear and the
wine or juice we drink, because I know
and understand how much hard work and
dedication are involved in providing these
To all the young people out there,
education is power. There are thousands
of scholarships available, so apply for as
many as possible, join community groups
and show committees, embrace every
opportunity, engage with elders, the
wisdom people -- we have a lot to learn.
Most importantly, embrace rural life and all
it has to offer.
Growing up in such
a landscape you
cannot help but fall
in love with the
land, as I have.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Annie Nichols at Parliament House, Canberra.
"Verdant", the Nichols family's property.
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
Falling in love
with the land
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