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This One’s For Gordy

Road leading down the mountain to Paddys Flat, New South Wales.
Road down to Paddys Flat

It’s daunting jumping into the unknown with no idea how the story ends.

And yet I do it without fear because I’ve always trusted that my heart will point the way.

Thirty-nine years ago, I ran away to California to elope with a man I’d briefly met and fallen in love with while living in Perth, Western Australia. We managed to make that relationship — two virtual strangers creating a life together — work for almost forty years until it ended in 2019.

And last year, I did it again. Only this time, I’m not a young woman anymore. I’m sixty-three, and the stakes are oh so much higher!

Gordy and I had been lovers just one month before I accepted his invitation to hang with him off-grid on his 20 acres at Paddy’s Flat up in the High Country of Northern New South Wales (NSW). More than a little curious, I set out on the 2,000 km road trip up North to get a sense of life with Gordy in the bush.

I fell in love with the High Country — and with the man.

I looked into my heart, and without hesitation, I genuinely felt a deep mature love for Gordy. I felt that I could make a life with him — somehow, some way — and was willing to leave behind my precious family in Victoria to start a new chapter, no matter how little we knew each other.

It was May 2021 and COVID had taken hold of life as we knew it.

I lived with Gordy in a caravan on Paddy’s Flat in the middle of winter. With no lock-up structure or basic facilities on his land, or access to a phone or WiFi, it was hard going! We lasted three months in pretty challenging conditions.

Bringing a dream into reality

Gordy, at sixty, is starting from scratch at a time in his life most men are putting their feet up! And I appreciate the work before him will take years.

It’s a dream Gordy’s held close all his life, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his farming grandparents. That is to say, Gordy dropped into the country lifestyle with boyish glee. He just took delivery of a tractor, and he’s in farm-boy heaven!

Fessing up, I’ve always felt overwhelmed by the enormity of what life will ask of me/us up on Paddy’s Flat, being fire and flood country and a forty-minute drive to the nearest town.

I love social connections, so isolation is part of it. I’m also acutely aware I’m a water woman. I need a regular dose of the ocean — over two hours’ drive away.

Gordy’s dream is to build a slice of paradise at Paddy’s Flat that connects deeply with Mother Gaia. I was hoping, given time, I could blend his dream with mine — writing, healing, connecting with people, and building community.

I chose to housesit — and later this year get into a share house — on the East Coast of Northern NSW. That gives Gordy a place to come when he needs time away from his block. When exhaustion or the weather takes its toll, he can hang with me on the coast. It gives us breathing space — and time apart — to figure out how we might navigate through the challenges ahead.

Granted the rise in petrol prices has made trips back and forth expensive, and more infrequent.

Housesitting keeps me locked down. I can’t go far when I’m caring for people’s pets. Moving into a share house in September would allow me to get out to Gordy’s block and lend a hand. To get back on the land and let it get under my skin, as it did last year.

Did I honestly see myself living at Paddy’s Flat full-time? No. But then, neither did Gordy. We talked about traveling while we could, seeing other parts of Australia. Without a reasonably comfy dwelling that keeps out the elements, I just can’t do it. Not when life on Paddy’s Flat over the next twelve months means living out of a couple of caravans.

In my relationship with Gordy, I’ve been working through a lot of my ‘stuff’. That is to say, some days I gave voice to my fears when I should have kept them to myself. After years of being locked in a toxic marriage, I saw freedom as the goal. I gave out mixed messages that confused the hell out of Gordy. And I didn’t fully grasp how that would undermine our relationship.

Gordy has a saying, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no!”

I was aiming for somewhere in the middle. I couldn’t say “yes” with absolute certainty because I didn’t have a clue what living off the grid with Gordy would ask of me. And it certainly wasn’t a “no” because I’m out here housesitting, far from family and friends, to be close to him.

Yesterday Gordy called to say our relationship was over. He said he couldn’t shake the feeling that my freedom and adventure weren’t at Paddy’s Flat.

So just like that, life and love throw a curve ball.

I wept like a twenty-year-old!

We were both gracious in the parting. I wrote in a message, “No need for us to be broken by where life takes us. Love should transcend any of that small stuff. I want to know that you are ok. And yes, we can be friends if that’s something you feel is positive in your life. After our chat this morning, you push me in a new direction. I’m sure one day I’ll be thankful for the nudge. You are so loved by me as a dear friend — always. “

Rather than spiral into a dark place, I found a local coffee shop, grabbed a seat in the sun, and began a gratitude rampage for my time with Gordy:

To be grateful for it all – and where it takes us!

Joy and laughter

We made each other laugh. It was such a new experience, after being sad for so long, to hear myself laugh. It was easy and fun being together. It set the vibe for our relationship.

Dream big

Gordy has big plans for Paddy’s Flat and sees his visions already realised. That vibe is infectious. It inspired me to go after bigger dreams for myself.

Driving a tractor

I absolutely loved loved loved being out on the tractor slashing paddocks, doing farm work with Gordy. Then, at the end of our day, we’d share a beer as we headed up into the paddocks to feed the Wild Walers.

Cat Farrar with wild waler — brumby — on Paddy’s Flat
Cat with ‘VAL’ – Wild Waler

Sitting together under the stars

Without WiFi or phones, each night we’d sit wrapped in coats in front of the fire and share our stories. One night he dared me to run naked around the paddock under a Full Moon with my Red Boots on — and I did!

Working on ourselves

We held space for each other to heal, be vulnerable, and deal with old wounds. I cried a lot while Gordy held my hand and bore witness to the letting go. Sometimes Gordy too would shed a tear. We knew we were ‘evolving’.

Going places, doing things together

We hopped on a few flights here and there and found we traveled well together. We stayed in more motel rooms than I can count on our road trips from Queensland to Melbourne, then back again, and stayovers in between housesits. So many road trips — but we never got to have one together. We were always in separate cars.

Smart mouth

I loved his comebacks and unique way of seeing the world. His smart mouth gave me a license to bring out MY smart mouth. The funny banter back and forth was another opportunity to laugh!

GeoPolitics, Wild Walers, and building with aircrete

I never thought I’d deep dive into those sorts of conversations. And yet we did. He’d share YouTube or news links for me to read, and we’d chew over them together. Discussions also included the pros and cons of building with aircrete, how to be self-sufficient living off the land, and the Wild Walers wandering through Paddy’s Flat.

Feeling good about myself

Gordy has had a lot of practice in self-love and self-care. He teased out the part of me that had been hiding. He encouraged me to be more self-seeking, and to ask for what I want. During our relationship, I always felt seen, respected, and deeply loved.

Freedom and adventure

My stark life so needed the light Gordy brought into it. There was so much of life, sometimes simple things, I’d never experienced with a lover holding my hand. My phone is chockers with snaps of us doing fun stuff, having the best time on land and sea. We found reasons and the means to live our best life. Thank you for all of it, Gordy.

Wishing you all lots of love and light on your journey.

Catherine (Cat) Farrar

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