Now, along with mothering two delightfully adventurous girls, Eliza runs a popular holiday villa there and a writer’s retreat with her husband, author Phillip Gwynne.
“How about Bali?” “I’m a born and bred Sydney girl but when I was pregnant with my second baby, Ella, we decided (or at least the city decided for us) that Sydney was getting too expensive. I didn’t want to go back to work straight away so we moved to the Blue Mountains. Whilst there I became part of one of the best communities I’ve ever known but it quickly dawned on us that we really are beach people and love the warm weather. After winter number two we made a pact to find somewhere else to live by autumn. We travelled up and down the coast looking for the perfect location but nothing really grabbed us. Then one day Phillip just threw it out there, “how about Bali?” The minute we had enough money we booked the tickets”.
Daily life is so far removed from what we know that every day something amazes or dazzles us. “There was one morning where everything I tried to achieve didn’t happen and, despite being warned to only expect to do one task per day, I was frustrated. I ended up throwing in the towel, and hopped on our motorbike (amazing in itself) and went to a yoga class. As I was driving I passed the local temple and could hear a full gamelan orchestra playing and was hit by the heady scent of incense. It was a local ceremony and everyone was dressed in full traditional attire. It caused a traffic jam (nothing unusual) so I had the opportunity to stop and take it all in. It was a triple sensory delight: sight, sound and smell. It made me realise how lucky I was to be living in Bali”.
It’s common to see parents equally involved in bringing up the kids “We’ve met many fantastic people, both locals and expats from everywhere: Brazil, England, USA, French and of course, other Australians. It’s not however like an expat community such as Hong Kong or Singapore where people go for specific jobs. Quite often, you find families here have taken a year or two off to explore another country, spend time with their children”.
We’ve become a closer knit family. “We didn’t know anyone when we arrived so naturally we became more self-sufficient as a family. I certainly noticed the girls have become closer. That could also be because my youngest is getting older and more fun to play with. It is an absolute delight to watch them play for hours and hours with their Barbies or in the pool. There’s a sense of freedom living in Bali that they didn’t have in Australia, whether it be simply having to wear less (if any) clothes or going to school on the back of a motorbike. We also have a lot of support here with babysitters so Phillip and I get to spend some good quality time together”.
Biggest Bali challenge? “I came to Bali with no Bahasa and signed up for lessons the week I arrived. I’ve learnt enough to get by but not being able to communicate freely can be somewhat frustrating. But that’s nothing a few more lessons of Bahia can’t fix”.
What do you love about motherhood? “They make me laugh. They’re fun and smart, and sporty and artistic, and cheeky which makes motherhood a delight. I’m actually lucky enough to also be a stepmother to a 19 year old boy who has just been travelling the world and will hopefully be visiting us very soon. Having two types of motherhood to explore has been a great discovery.
Charity of Choice? “Charity definitely begins at home here. We helped our staff member with school fees for her son and I would happily continue that on an ongoing basis. It’s quite common in Bali to assist your staff with medical or educational expenses so for the time being that’s where I want to help”.
The Villa and Wrestling with Crocs “Soon after we moved to our new house, I noticed the villa next door was empty. A few conversations and a lot of negotiating later and I ended up signing a lease with a view to renting it out for holidays. We have really enjoyed renting it out as a holiday villa as we’ve had some great guests from all over the world.
The space is so special and private, and as Phillip discovered after a few incidental visits (with his laptop), it’s a wonderful place to tap tap away. That’s how the idea for Wrestling with Crocs, the perfect writer’s retreat, came to be. It works well. Phillip meets our guests first thing before an intensive day of writing and again in the afternoon or evening to discuss the day’s work. Seems there’s nothing quite like toiling away on your manuscript knowing that someone right next door is doing exactly the same!”
For anyone wanting a relaxing, private and gorgeous space to stay in Bali, check us out: www.facebook.com/villakacang.
For the writers, all you need to know about Wrestling with Crocs is at: www.facebook.com/wrestlingwithcrocs