When Michelle Simons “went browsing” for the perfect site for her new life in the country, her shopping list had very specific requirements. It had to be within 15 minutes of services and a decent cup of coffee, within an hour’s commute to an airport, and be able to access a city in a single day’s return trip. The property she found near Tyalgum in the Tweed Valley region not only ticked all the boxes, but added a few extra features that she’d barely dared to imagine.



“Tyalgum is a small village but it has all the services, including a great café,” she says. “Murwillumbah is about half an hour away and it has all I need in terms of shops and restaurants. Brisbane is less than two hours’ drive away, the Coolangatta airport is 40 minutes away and then it’s an hour’s flight to Sydney.”



The bonus was the truly spectacular setting the farm had to offer. Surrounded by the Border Ranges with the towering Pinnacle overlooking her front yard and Wollumbin (or Mount Warning as it was named by Captain Cook) at the back, the property has postcard views in every direction. It’s just far enough off the beaten track to afford an extra level of privacy, yet is within striking distance of civilisation whenever Michelle feels the call.



Local Aboriginal lore holds that Wollumbin is a site of great ceremonial and spiritual significance and it has the distinction of being the first place on the Australian mainland to be touched by the sunrise. The Bundjalung people who lived in the lee of the volcanic plug believed that the spirits of the mountains of the surrounding region were warriors who inhabited the area. Evidence of their battles can be seen in the scars on the sides of the mountains and the thunder and lightning that is common in the area recall their conflicts.


Even to the uninitiated, Wollumbin, which translates as “cloud catcher” is an omnipotent presence. Predictably on the late summer’s day when we visited, both it and the surrounding mountains were shrouded in cloud. Periodic clearances provided tantalising glimpses of the mountainous battlements that surround her 100-acre sanctuary.


“I was born in Port Macquarie and educated in Sydney,” Michelle explains. “Dad came from a family of farmers, and I grew up loving horse riding. I enjoyed a satisfying career in IT, but always had this nagging feeling that I wanted to go back to the land. I found what I was looking for in 2003 and have been here on and off ever since.”

The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 16.4. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

Click here for more farm life stories.

Words Kirsty McKenzie
Photography Ken Brass

More Like This

Creative Central: Writing and making music are the keys to fulfilment according to author Siobhan O'Brien

Creative Central: Writing and making music are the keys to fulfilment according to author Siobhan O’Brien

While most people would have found home schooling three teenagers enough of a challenge during the COVID lockdowns, journalist and author […]

A Pleasing Prospect: Gayle and Dennis Scott have created a showpiece garden in Victoria

A Pleasing Prospect: Gayle and Dennis Scott have created a showpiece garden in Victoria

Appearances can be deceptive, so you’d never know from the lush oasis Gayle and Dennis Scott have built around their home […]

Victoria's Great Ocean Road Delivers Dramatic Landscapes and History

Coasting Along: Victoria’s Great Ocean Road Delivers Dramatic Landscapes and History

Stand close to almost any cliff on the Great Ocean Road, and you appreciate the perils of the shipwreck coast, serrated […]

Coming up Roses: Flowers, Fragrance and Flavours

Coming up Roses: Flowers, Fragrance and Flavours

As a child growing up on farm in northern Tasmania, restaurateur Hayley Self was notorious for stealing her mother’s Chanel perfume […]

Embrace Winter Comfort: Introducing OZ Design's 24 Collection

Embrace Winter Comfort: Introducing OZ Design’s 24 Collection

OZ Design’s Winter 24 collection has arrived, bringing with it a sense of comfort and relaxation that is sure to enhance […]

Move to Myanbah

From Corporate Careers to Country Living: A Family’s Move to Myanbah

Jess and Hamish Webb embarked on a move to Myanbah to raise their three young children in a restored 19th-century homestead.

Tasmanian Family Farm

A Tasmanian Family Farm Built within Generations

Seven generations of the Medwin family have farmed at Black River, Tasmania. Phil and Fiona Medwin are ensuring the tradition continues.

Family business

A Sheep Farm Business Turning Whey into Spirits and More

This Tasmanian-based family has turned their common family business model on its head in pursuit of their values.

Follow Us on Instagram