Live life to the fullest … for most of us, that’s a nice sentiment on a greeting card or a lofty goal set ambitiously at the outset of a new year. For Kate Pilcher, it’s the only way to be — it’s her reality. The 35-year-old mother of two is passionate about her family (husband, Steven, and girls, Finn and Winifred), the bush and horses. These are the centre of her universe, so there’s no room for the normal stresses of a nine-to-five office job, a bumper-to-bumper highway commute, or deadlines she doesn’t dictate for herself. She’s living a life she loves on her lush 17-acre (seven-hectare) hinterland property on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
“We don’t have a television in our house and we spend a lot of time outside,” Kate says. “Every afternoon before or after dinner (depending on the time of year), we’re in the paddock … hanging out with the girls’ pony, Minty Magic. Finn is learning to jump on bareback at the moment and Birdie (Winifred’s nickname), at 16 months, is nuts about riding and she has epic tantrums if we don’t allow her on Minty. We love being aware of our surroundings and nature, we’re always identifying birds, lizards, lady bugs.”
However, there was a catalyst for this picture of rural bliss Kate has created with Steven and the girls. It all began back in 2006, when she went on a horse-riding safari in Kenya’s vast and captivating Maasai Mara with her dad. “That had a profound impact on my life and I came home a little lost,” she recalls. “Before leaving for that life-changing safari, I had a thriving business, a mortgage, a dog and a lovely boyfriend, Steven. When I got home, I was completely unsettled.”
So unsettled, that she had to leave again soon afterwards. With Steven’s blessing, Kate set out on a nine-month journey to find a cure for all that inner turbulence. “I travelled to Torres del Paine, Chile, and completed a ride,” she says. “Then I went on to work at a remote estancia (cattle ranch) in Patagonia, Argentina, where I learnt to break-in horses with the gauchos and literally dropped out from the world. It was a 100,000-acre (40, 468-hectare) estancia that can only be accessed via horse and it was absolute bliss.
This story was originally published in the June 2016 issue of Australian Country. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Words Tamara Simoneau
Photography Anastasia Kariofylldis