LAURA NOONAN - QUEEN OF STEMS
I was born in Northern Queensland, grew up in the south-eastern burbs of Melbourne, and did a short stint in Sydney. My childhood was fairly ordinary and very removed from rural living. I was a complete city snob devoid of any connection to the natural environment, apart from picking flowers from neighbours' gardens, putting them into posies and selling them back to them….mwahaha!) My parents divorced when I was eleven so living was divided between the middle class (Ormond, Carnegie) to upper middle class (Surrey Hills, Camberwell). I finished Year 12 (just!) and travelled for a bit. I studied Child Care and travelled again with that. Then I had a baby and decided that I didn’t want anything more to do with kids other than my own and took up floristry. For year ten work experience I did a week in a kinder and a week in a florist and told my friend, “I want to be a florist when I’m older, not now.” I’m now, obviously, older, and a florist!
I moved to Castlemaine because it was a natural progression from Northcote. Seriously though, we moved for similar reasons to other green changers. We were sick of living in the same rental in the northern suburbs, cheap as chips but falling apart around us, terrified of being kicked out and not having a chance in hell to pick up another crap-heap without having to sell our first born. We were also craving green, trees, space, fresh air, no traffic, security, community etc. Our kids were also a big reason. We literally had a concrete back yard in Northcote and here we have a quarter acre block and two thirds is grass. There are blue tongues and stumpy tails and skinks. We got a dog. Without sounding too cliche, we have trees to climb (and no concrete if we fall out.)
Country life cons: the long distance travel involved to shop at Aldi, the flies, the snakes, our favourite place to get take away closes at 8pm. We still go to Melbourne quite a bit. It’s so bloody easy to access which makes living in Castlemaine so appealing. I love the idea that we can choose whether or not to tap into it. We have control over that now. It always felt the opposite when we lived there, we were always at Melbourne’s mercy!
Since moving here I’ve started my own business called Queen of Stems. It sounds weird but it happened by accident; I got a wedding job through another florist in Daylesford (Zara at Wootton and Nicholls is a legend!) I set myself up with a market pass and before I knew it I had cards printed, a makeshift website and a little business and I’ve just rolled with it. There’s no way at all that I could have done this in Melbourne. We would still need a very steady double income to get by in the city. But in Castlemaine we have a lot more flexibility and a fantastic quality of life. The community have been very supportive. People really want to get behind small business in the country because a thriving, busy little community benefits everyone. This year, as well as developing Queen of Stems, I’m in the process of setting up another business with my friend Jenny Joy who is a celebrant.
I bloody love Castlemaine, and all the places around. I love the cafes in town, especially Public Inn while sipping on a tea and reading a mag under those gorgeous big trees, the courtyard at the Dove, North Kitchen. I love the Guildford General Store, and the drive between Guildford and Daylesford, it’s just so pretty. I also love walks around the Botanical Gardens and saying ‘hi’ to everyone and the gorgeous doggies as they walk past. I love feeling like a tour-o and getting creeped out at the Old Castlemaine Gaol. I love taking my daughter to her Over the Moon dance class and every time I wish that Edna would invite us over to her place for lunch and she could be my daughter’s surrogate grandma (hahaha….that sounds really weird doesn’t it…) I also love the long summer days and community vibes at places like the Res, Chewton and Castlemaine pool.
Tips for anyone thinking of moving here: Just take the step and do it. We tossed and turned for ages to ‘take the risk of moving to the country’- bahahahaha! It’s so funny to think that we were so nervous. I was so scared that my world would shrink and I’d be isolated. But my world has expanded and is continues to do so. I love it so much, there’s no way in hell that I’m moving back to Melbourne!
It’s pretty crap that my husband is still working so much in Melbourne. We’re trying really hard to get him work up here as much as possible. Anyone need a sparky?